I AM (the) MOANA (of thrift shopping)!

In the same way that Moana comes from voyagers, I come from dumpster divers. My Great Granny Florence would go “shopping” at the dumpsters in Alexandria, VA and bring home any and every item that was in reasonable and recognizable condition. My first jewelry box was a mini wooden wardrobe-style contraption (like, 11 inches tall) that she rescued from one such dumpster. It made.my.life. and I still have it.  The things she didn’t gift or use for herself, she cleaned, laundered, and donated to the Goodwill. Amazing, right?!

Florence was a thrifty caretaker which might have come from raising six children by herself during WWII and having to stretch every resource as far as she possibly could.  It also could have just been her nature.  It’s surprising – or maybe not? – that her daughter (my dad’s mom) was the exact opposite, indulging in the finest clothes, etc. Well, I always loved the excitement and passion that I saw on Great Granny’s face when she showed us the treasures that she found and imagined the ways that they would be used in their next life.  As I grew up, learned about the world, and was responsible for buying my own clothes, I quickly realized that thrift shopping was made for me: I can thrift clothes that are higher quality than those I could afford new, and I get a warm gushy feeling inside from saving someone else’s well-loved items from going into a landfill. And when I want to update my wardrobe? I can take the high quality, well-loved pieces back to a Goodwill for their next journey!

I went shopping last week for the first time in a li’l while and it was a smashing success! I hit up the fancy Goodwill (in Westport, CT) with the goal of tackling the pants situation. Pants and I have a thing. But y’all it paid off! $60 later and this was my haul.

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Yes, I took individual photos of each item. And yes, I learned adobe photoshop so that I could make this collage. #goals #motivation #marketableskills #someoneplzhireme Clockwise from top left: Jeanne Pierre cotton brick red sweater (obsessed with the texture); Ann Taylor Loft black and white geometric sweater shirt; Abercrombie&Fitch pink crop sweater with moose detail (moose’s have my heart); Levi’s distressed, cropped denim; Talbot’s cropped blue pants; plaid sweater with pink stripe from unknown brand.

The Levi’s were $25 which is more than I’ve spent on a single item of clothing in a really long time.* But they made me feel SO GOOD that I decided to go for it. I can’t explain it. I haven’t worn an outfit this deliberately shapeless in a long time but something about The Pants feels absolutely magical. I love the rise, I love the wash, and there’s a certain other je ne sais quois that puts some extra pep in my step.

Denim and sweater from Westport Goodwill, thrifted teal, Talbot’s peacoat from Charlottesville Goodwill, white headscarf from http://www.sleepandsparkle.com, shoes by Naturalizer via Nordstrom’s semi-annual sale.

The Talbot’s pants were $11.99. I saw the shade of blue and immediately recognized them as being the match to a Talbot’s skirt I thrifted about 5 years ago in Charlottesville. It was the first skirt I bought in my adult life that fit my curves in all the right places so I was thrilled to see a matching pair of pants!

The bears and I had a post-nap dance party. Everything piece of this outfit brings me intense joy.
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My dear friend Hannah and me in the Grand Central Terminal after a restaurant week double date with our favorite people. I’m wearing my new fave Talbot’s pants.  (Hannah’s style has always been #goals for me!)

Moral of the story? Go in with a goal. Y’all I tried on 75% of the pants that were in the Goodwill. And 99.99% of those fit like a joke. But I was so excited about the two pairs I bought that I wore them the same day I bought them and without laundering them. *gasp* And those baggy Levi’s and that red sweater? I wore them 3 days in a row without a second thought! If the clothes don’t make me want to dance (I had a good 45 minute post-shopping-nap dance party) then they don’t come home with me.

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The headscarves are, of course, from http://www.sleepandsparkle.com. I hope that people pass my scarves down for generations the way that I pass on my favorite clothes and accessories!

*Note: All of my shoes – except for a pair of steel toe cowboy boots that I bought at a thrift store in Laramie, Wyoming – come from retail stores. I wear a women’s 12.5 which I can’t reliably thrift.

One Year of curious sparkle dirt

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Flashback to January 2017. I knew I wanted to start a blog and I knew that my first post was going to be about “Hidden Figures.” What I didn’t know was EVERYTHING ELSE.

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I hadn’t been diagnosed with narcolepsy but I knew my grad school situation was untenable. I couldn’t hold down a 9-5 job 5 days/week so I took up substitute teaching and hoped that plus a record of my writing would be “good enough” for a future employer if I ever sorted out my health issues.

I had no idea that I would share my mental health history with the entire internet, post style files for all to see, and publicly embrace my maker personality and love of fashion in the form of a freakin’ accessories brand. OH! And go to Capitol Hill. This time last year I was at rock bottom. I thought things couldn’t get any worse so why not just put all of me out there? Because if one person read my blog, got a sleep study, and found an answer sooner than I did, it would all be worth it. (Sleep posts here.) I could never have guessed in a million years that 2017 would be the best year of my life. (Aside from that year I met my husband!)

Thank you for coming along for the ride! And for putting up with these gratitude recap posts every month because every month last year was a major milestone for me and I’m still processing!

Love,

The Narcolepsy Princess

My Word of the Year

Last Year

2017 was a year of adventure and abundant creativity, but also one of intense anger, confusion, and betrayal.  My New Year’s Resolution was to reduce food waste and hell if that didn’t fade out of view by the second grocery shopping trip of January.

And then narcolepsy. I tried to fight against my labels but spiraled into denial when I compared myself, my accomplishments, and my potential to that of a fictitious non-narcoleptic version of myself.  Spoiler alert: she has better time management skills, organizational skills, more wakefulness, and OH YEAH! She doesn’t exist.  I felt betrayed by the medical profession and the three neurologists who gave me a full workup and declared that I was perfectly healthy.  I’ve fantasized about dropping burning piles of poo on the doorsteps of many doctors; not just those three neurologists, but also the know-it-all general practitioners, allergists, cardiologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. who didn’t have the guts to say “Something’s wrong, but I don’t know the answer.”  Apparently I still have some anger to work through.

The Diagnosis threw me into an identity crisis and I think that crisis ironically came from me realizing that I knew more about myself than I thought I did.  I was finally able to look at my narrative about myself and see clearly the passages that others had added.  I wasn’t lazy or unmotivated or stupid.  I was clinically sleepy beyond reason which is what my body had been telling me and what I had been telling the doctors.  Over the years I let them convince me that I was wrong, and now, with The Diagnosis in hand, I had control.  For the first time in my life I let my creativity take the reigns and I launched an accessories brand – sleep&sparkle – that challenged me in ways that I hadn’t been challenged before, but also used many of my strengths and fed a passion for sartorial expression which I kept deep inside of me as soon as I graduated from high school.  Somehow, The Diagnosis put me in touch with the deepest parts of myself and empowered me to believe that I deserved to be happy and to create a life doing something that I loved.  My husband and grandma had been telling me this for years, but until The Diagnosis, their words might as well have been in a foreign language.

This Year

In 2018 I’m ditching the resolutions and opting for a WORD.  A word that will be the lens through which I filter my thoughts and actions.  A word that will push me outside of my comfort zone while also pushing me in the direction I want to go.  My word for 2018 is EMBRACE.  I fought it for weeks in December until I finally caved and realized that my resistance was a serious indicator of how much I needed this word.  I was hoping for something bigger that set off fireworks and felt exceptional like BRAVE or FIERCE or PRESENT or INQUISITIVE, but I kept coming back to my frustration with my sleepiness, my inability to accept good things that were happening to me and because of me, and my fear that I would always be angry and bitter about The FUCKING Diagnosis.

“Why am I so mean to myself? Why can’t I accept who I am, what I am, how I am?  Why can’t I EMBRACE this beautiful thing called life that I’m working so hard to make but can’t seem to appreciate?”  Hence, EMBRACE.

The work of this year is to EMBRACE all of these things and so much more.  It is to EMBRACE my weaknesses and failures but even more importantly my strengths and successes.  It is to EMBRACE my anger and bitterness while also EMBRACING my creativity, my enthusiasm, and that I am more than my story and my circumstances.  It is to EMBRACE the opportunities and the relationships that make my heart happy.  It is to EMBRACE me, the way that my grandma and husband did years ago.

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Bonne année, my friends!


What are your resolutions, words, ideas, as you enter 2018?  Or do you opt for nothing at all?

Latest and Favorite-est Thrift Store Find

Okay y’all.  If you live in Fairfield County area, have I got a thrift store for you! I recently went to the Westport Goodwill for the first time and it’s like the Whole Foods of Goodwill’s.  I walked away with some seriously amazing finds that deserve their own posts later on.  But I’ve been living in this 3/4 length sleeve blue and white knit Boden sweater that I picked up because it’s cozy, the sleeve length and overall length is perfect for my body type, and the swing sleeves make me feel elegant when I’m wearing denim that’s a bit too small and 12 year old Uggs that are deteriorating from salt exposure.  Speaking of the Uggs, I used to have a tough time (emotionally) mixing similar textures – like two furs, two leathers, two denims, etc – but I’ve recently decided that more is more, hence the faux fur sleep&sparkle headwrap and the fur collar on the thrifted coat (not pictured) that I wore to the grocery store to stock up on foods and stuffs and foodstuffs to get us through this bomb cyclone.

What are your latest and favorite-ist thrifting finds? What have you been living in this winter, thrifted or otherwise?


Outfit Details

Shoes: Uggs (retail)
Denim: Madewell (retail)
Sweater: Boden (thrifted)
Accessories include my faux fur head wrap from sleep&sparkle, my Project Sleep awareness bracelet, a pink beaded bracelet given to me by a friend, a narrow cuff that stays “STAY IN YOUR MAGIC” from a family friend for my wedding, and my new camera.

Thrift tip: Forget the numbers

Hi friends! I’m jumping in here with another tall tip / thrift tip.

Don’t look at number sizes at the thrift store. Have an idea of your body’s shape and scout out clothes that match what you know about yourself.

I would have passed by my all time favorite thrifting finds – a Talbot’s pea coat, Express jean jacket, and badass steel toe cowboy boots – if I had been hung up on numbers. My pea coat is a PETITE! You guys I’m 6 FEET TALL. But when I saw the coat on the rack I knew the darts looked like they were in the right place for me and the length looked like it would hit just above my knees – PERFECT!

Bonus: my peacoat doubles as the perfect travel blanket!

On the other hand my jean jacket is an XL. I have thrifted clothes in every size from XXS to XXL.

Rocking my thrifted Express jean jacket (from Goodwill) with a thrifted dress from the German thrift store, Humana, in Cologne, Germany.

Women’s sizing has changed a LOT in the last 20-30 years: a size 10 in 2000 might be closer to a size 2-4 now, or vice versa.  And that’s fine!

Your body is fabulous EXACTLY the way that it is. Don’t fall prey to the nonsense that is spouted by the fashion industry. Know yourself, know your style, and rock the hell out of it!