Thirty Three

It’s been a while since I made a fashion post.  Oy.   Not being a full-time blogger, I get sidetracked – easily.  Well, really that’s just me in life, in general.  Shooting for this post I noticed something different though…

There wasn’t ONE photo that I had that I criticized.
I even found myself cheering myself on.

“YAS GURL, Look at you work it!  You look fabulous!  You’re amazing!”

This has not been the norm for any of my posts thus far.  This is a big step.

I’ve been going through a pretty significant change the last few months.  I feel like this is maybe something that happens when you’re on the cusp of the 30 year marker of life.  I’ve had glimpses of moments like these all throughout my twenties thus far, but nothing as concrete as now.

I’m evolving.

I’m more aware of myself, who I am and all that that entails.  I’m more connected to the world around me, in an organic way.  I’m becoming less dependent on technology, compared to how I was at the beginning of the year (which could also help to explain my absence).  I’m more appreciative of my body, of my essence.  I’m speaking more out of love than out of hatred or bitterness – to myself, and to others.   In a way, I feel like with the world around me moving forward, I am taking a few steps backwards… in the absolute best way possible.  I am finding my true self, and growing in ways that I was stunted from before.

A funny kind of thing is happening along with this.  My wardrobe is evolving, too.

I am choosing clothing that I am drawn to kinetically.  What my heart and soul are drawn to, instead of my eyes or my wallet.  In doing so, I am 1000% more comfortable in my own skin and in what I wear.  I think this is the first outfit that I’ve worn in a long time (or maybe ever) that I honestly love every part of, and how I look in every part of it.

Those legs – FOR DAYS.
Them thighs – #QUADGOALS.
Those curves – DELICIOUS.
Them arms – STRENGTH.
Dat booty – HI I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN SO LONG NICE TO HAVE YOU BACK.

All the pieces of me that I used to tear apart, I am falling so madly in love with.  I didn’t think that was possible, but the more I evolve, the stronger that love becomes – and I am so elated.  Loving myself has never been easy, but I am learning and I am finding happiness within the lesson.

I hope that if you’re reading this, and you’re feeling the way that I am so used to feeling, that you too will discover love and happiness within your own lesson.

Life is hard.  If we hold each other up, we can get through anything.

“All we need is love…”

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I am SO obsessed with bodysuits right now.  And this jacket…and these jeans…and boots…and sunglasses.
I would actually (and quite possibly just might) wear this every single day.  So, I can’t promise that I’ll have much new content coming in the near future.  #SorryNotSorry …

JacketGarage (on clearance!)
BodysuitH&M
JeansGap (1969 fit)
BootsDUNE London
SunniesWinners Fab Find

Thirty Two

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I just wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on this particular photo today.   Kayley Reed (of Wear Your Label) had posted it to Instagram the other day, and it really struck a chord with me.

As soon as I saw it, I just sat there, mouth gaping.

“HOLY SHIT”, I thought. “This is exactly what I felt but could never have put into words.”

Because I’ve been that person.

I’ve been the girl who spent hours upon hours staring at her body in a mirror and scrutinizing every single millimetre of canvas.  The girl who only knew how to spew hateful things at what she saw in the mirror because she was taught by the media that it was ugly or disgusting.

I’ve been the girl who starved herself; the girl who would pass up the foods she loved or quality time with her friends for supper because she couldn’t bear to see that food turn into fat.  Who binged and purged, to fit a mould that wasn’t even designed for humans; to have her shoulder blades and hip bones jut out, like a picture frame corner stretching a mesh screen.

The hatred and sheer loathing that roamed around my head – I’m not skinny enough, I’m not hairless or smooth enough, I’m not tall enough or my skin’s not dark enough.  My nose isn’t small enough, my lips aren’t big enough.  I’m not “womanly” shaped or curvy enough.

You know what?

I AM EVERYTHING ENOUGH.

I am pretty enough, and curvy enough.  I am brave enough, and bold enough.  I am smart enough, and strong enough.  I am brilliant enough, and inquisitive enough.  I am fierce enough, and loyal enough.  I am kind enough, and I am honest enough.  I am complete enough.

I AM EVERYTHING ENOUGH, and I have had enough with the absolutely ridiculous pressures and standards put on women and girls in society today.  It’s not attainable, it’s not healthy and it’s NOT important.  What is important is your happiness and your feeling of self-worth (and yes, your health is absolutely important, too).

It has taken me almost 29 years to love myself, in a world that should have been teaching me to do just that from the day that I was born.  So my advice is this:

Love your cellulite (booty dimples), and your stretch marks (tiger stripes). Love your bread rolls, your sushi rolls, all your rolls (from enjoying wonderful food with family and friends). Love your chin hairs (wisdom tinsel) and your back hairs (stray eyebrows). Love your crows feet and your laugh lines, and all the random lines that are earned over time (they are radiant records that you have laughed and felt joy).

Love and treasure every one of your “imperfections”. You grew into them, grew up with them and you continue growing with them. They are a part of you.  Embrace it all, wholly, because without it – you are not you. And you, as you are, are perfectly imperfect. Speak out of love to yourself.  Speak out of positivity to the girl you see staring back at you in the mirror.  Be proud of what makes you unique. Be proud of each marker that shows you have lived and are living.

You are so much more than this spaceship you were born into; you are the soul within it. You are the accumulation of your experiences; the love and the laughter that lights up your face, the tears and the heartache that show you your strength and courage. You are the empathy that lends a helping hand, the compassion that comforts another in need. You are the wisdom that sees another through, and the encouragement that embraces a moment of weakness. You are the knowledge that instills pride in others, and the kindness that births a grin.  You are a beacon of hope to someone in darkness, and you are the light of jubilation to someone morose.

You are incredible, and a mirror or a scale cannot show you that.

You have always been beautiful because your true beauty can not be physically altered.   So hug yourself tight, forgive your past remarks, and begin to love every single square inch.  You owe it to your soul, to defy what you’ve been subconsciously taught and realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way you look.  You are still the most beautiful word.

 

Thirty One

 

Today’s post is not going to be about fashion.  It’s going to be about something so much greater.  It’s going to be long, and full of photos.  Some of these photos are flattering, some are not.  Most of them I had no idea were being taken but each of them has a story, and each of them carries an emotion.  I wasn’t expecting my journey to be captured in such a raw and authentic way…but for that, I am ever so grateful to my wonderful boyfriend who, in his pride for me, decided to document the steps of my journey – both good and bad.  I couldn’t have asked for a greater gift.


 

Yesterday, I began the journey to conquering my fears.

One of those is a crippling fear of heights.
Like, we’re talking heart-stopping, throat-tightening, won’t-even-walk-near-a-second-floor-railing-in-a-mall fear of heights.

So naturally, I decided to climb a mountain.

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This whole thing started a week ago.  My boyfriend and I went on a casual hike in the mountains to Heart Creek Trail.  While we were there, he took notice of Heart Mountain, which the trail runs alongside.

 

His first instinct – “Wow!  I want to climb that.”
Mine? – “Are you INSANE?!”

But the day went on, and the more I thought about it, the more the idea intrigued me.  It wasn’t until we saw other climbers along it’s edge that I started to think, “Okay, we could totally do that.  It can’t be that hard.”  So with very few hours left in the day (and a watch telling us the incorrect time), we set out to find where this mountain climb began.

We made it (what we thought) about half way up, until the weather turned and a storm started rolling in.  I’ve watched enough movies and documentaries to know that when weather on a mountain starts to change, you don’t take it lightly.  I made the executive decision to turn around and head back down, though my win did not come without a fight.  We decided that we would try again, and next time we would make it.

Fast forward a week to April 10.  We once again found ourselves standing at the base of Heart Mountain.  This time more determined than ever, and clearly having brought our naivety along with us for the ride.  Our previous venture had seemed like a breeze.  I was surprisingly not scared at all, given the circumstances, and regardless of the insane reviews that we had read since our first failed attempt, I was totally convinced that this would be a cake walk.

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I was not at all prepared for the experience I was willingly walking right into.

I was doing this to face a demon, a fear that has plagued me intensely in my adult life.  I had expected there to be some physical challenge, but I could never have prepared myself for the psychological torture I was about to be drug through.

The first part (what we now realize was about a quarter) of the hike went smooth like our first attempt.  We both took notice that we didn’t have the same energy as the last time, but we chalked that up to lack of sleep/lack of heat/lack of warm up/lack of oxygen… basically any excuse we could give ourselves that would convince us to keep going.

Great start, amiright lol

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See? Breezy!

Everything was truly going dandy, until we breached our previous turn-around point.

It was in this moment that I was playing the comedian and scoffed, “Oohh looks like the fun really starts here!”, but little did I know how accurate my ‘comedy’ would become.

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The thought that I was maybe in for more than I realized crossed my mind, but I quickly shot that down and told myself it was just nerves.  I’ve never climbed a mountain before!

I even took a moment to twerk a little since my boyfriend is a genius and brought along a portable radio for us.  (I can’t believe he actually took a picture of this LOL)

Werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, werk…

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Peekaboo!

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Ahh, still happy!  Still quite clueless.

I had already had a few moments of having to reiterate to myself that I could do this, that I was capable… though it was previous to this point that I had decided it was time to put up the blinders, and try my damnedest to NOT look left or right – and ESPECIALLY DO NOT LOOK BEHIND YOU/DOWN.

CHEERS! (Obligatory tourist shot)

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Moving forward didn’t seem so bad now.  I was keeping my eyes on the prize aka staring directly at the ground in front of me, only briefly looking up and forward to remain on path and nothing else.

It was here that my first true anxiety attack came on.  I had tears well up in my eyes, my throat started to close in and restrict my already low intake of oxygen…I was shaking so badly I thought I would slide right off the side of the mountain.

I actually had to stop and bring myself into Tree Pose to reground.  RIDICULOUS, right?! My boyfriend had a mild heart attack when he saw me standing on one leg on the side of the mountain.  It took everything in me to calm my nerves and re-centre myself to keep going; that tiny bit of yoga that I brought with me made a world of difference in that moment.

In fact, here is a photo I took just after I got myself together; for the first time in a long time I snuck a peek to my left…and just about shit my pants.  There’s the slope for ya!

I muttered to myself, “Terrible idea…” and owned a moment of self-hatred for straying from my plan of action.

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I reminded myself, swallowing the lump in my throat, that I could do this, that I was safe.  That I needed to put those blinders back up and everything would be just peachy!

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Yeah.  Safe.  Peachy.  All good!

Well, it must have worked, because my smile was back!

(Or maybe that had to do with having no idea that THIS was behind me!?!)

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It didn’t last for long.  Tackle one hurdle, only to come face to face with another more challenging one.  If it wasn’t having to navigate our way up increasingly steeper slopes, it was having to straight up free style rock climb over a ridge (or two).

It was here that I looked up, said, “Are you f***ing kidding me!…”, turning to my boyfriend like:

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He chuckled at my expression, and I half hoped I was joking – although seeing this photo now, there is no denying the truth behind it.  I was terrified and feeling defeated.  I had made it through the first rock climb required and was hoping with all hope that I wouldn’t have to repeat it.  But here we were.

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I can’t count the number of times that I said both inside my head and out loud, “Why the hell did I think this was a good idea?”…and I wouldn’t know the answer to that question for another almost 2 hours.

Being the sweet man he is, my boyfriend softly suggested I try a more upbeat approach.  We had both been reciting positive mantras to the other when one of us started to question our inner confidences.  It served to help the other, but I think it helped ourselves more.

So I responded:

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Fake it ’til you make it, right?!

I had a moment of utter weakness at this point, and all I could think was, “I can’t fucking do this. There is NO WAY that I can do this.  If I somehow find a way up, there’s no way I’ll find a way down.”

Out of nowhere, like the clouds parting and the rays of the sun bursting through,  I got a second wind;  I had come up for a breath of air.

“F**K IT.  What am I doing?! I’m bad ass!!! I can totally do this.  I’m just gonna do it, and that’s that!”

Off I went with gumption.

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That confidence lasted all of 5 minutes.

“Babe, look back here for a second.”
“No thanks.”
“Come on! Just a quick second.”
“… okay fine.”

CHEESE!

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And, in this moment of looking back when I promised myself that I wouldn’t – my friend Annie Anxiety had returned.  ALL that consumed my thoughts now was, “How the fuck am I going to get off of this mountain if I keep going? I can’t keep going. I have to turn around.  I’m probably already stuck here.”

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A little voice inside me started to speak and I remembered the reason why I was doing this – that I was fighting against this very thought – and it gave me strength to push on.  I had already made it THIS far and there was no damn way I was doing this a third time.  Now or never.  We were way too close to the summit to pack up now.

Onward!  Pull those big girl panties up.  Find a way.

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NAILED IT.

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A short while later and we had reached our destination!  SUMMIT! FINALLY!

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Nothing could have prepared me for the emotion that would hit me like a freight train.

All I could do was cry (and thank God for sunglasses 😉 ).

The pride that overwhelmed me was incredible.

I DID IT.  I ACTUALLY DID IT.  I’M SITTING HERE THOUSANDS OF FEET IN THE AIR AND I’M STILL TERRIFIED BUT I’M HERE.  I MADE IT.

The tears that I swallowed, the trembling, the fear that I had to continually beat down inside of me – to push my body and my mind past its absolute limits – all for this moment.  This achievement. This victory.

Now I understood why I knew this was a good idea.

I drank it in like nectar to a bee.

And then I just sat there.

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Alone with my thoughts.  Totally engrossed in this divinity of nature; in this connection that I was pulled towards so strongly.  Revelling in my glory, but also in sadness.  How can moments like these go so unappreciated by some?  This Earth.  Our home.  Its magic.  These majestic, strong, jagged peaks that literally thrust their power and beauty into your face.

Perspective.  Appreciation.  Respect.  Gratitude.

And I cried again, out of grief for this world.  I was so overcome.

Eventually, I gathered my emotions, and my belongings, and wandered off to explore with my love.  To take in the grand scenery that enveloped us.  To dwell in what we had accomplished together.

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Truly on top of the world, by all definitions ❤

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We were speechless.

The views the whole way through this trek were breathtaking; worth the pain and sweat, worth every tear, worth every thought that I had had to combat.

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(I have a thing for contrasting textures)

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After sending out a little gift of love and thanks, we began our descent.  I had no choice but to look down at this point, and something strange was happening.  The more I embraced the view, connected with the Earth, trusted my own strength – the more my fear and anxiety began to fade.

This climb was far more psychologically challenging than I could ever have imagined.  I wasn’t expecting my anxiety to join me, in all her glory, on this journey; to skip along beside me, chanting taunts into my ear.  I was not at all prepared for the physical or emotion breakdown that I would endure.  The grip of terror that would wrap itself around my throat, choking me.  The breath that would be harder and harder to take, and not just because the air was thinning.

When I made the concrete decision to summit Heart Mountain and face my fear of heights, I had no idea what I had signed myself up for.  I’d seen photos of people who had done it, and I’d thought that it looked so easy.  So attainable…and attainable it is, but it was not without a price.

When I decided to summit Heart Mountain, spending a solid 1.5 of the almost 3 hours it took fighting back tears wasn’t what I pictured.  I had to battle so much of my mind that I questioned each step of the way if this was what I actually wanted to do.

Had I made a good decision?
Was I crazy to think I could do it?
Who the hell decides to do this in their right frame of mind anyway, especially with a paralyzing fear of heights!?!?
Couldn’t I have started with a jungle gym or a ladder?! 

In setting this goal, and stopping at nothing to reach it, I learned a few things.

I learned that the only limitations I have I’ve set myself, and they exist only in my mind.

I learned that maybe to conquer our fears (and our minds), we must learn to walk hand in hand with them.  We have the power.  We always will.

I learned that I can trust myself, because that trust will carry me through.

I learned that I am an extremely emotional being, and to allow myself to live in those moments of emotion is empowering.  It’s brave, and bold.  It’s human, and it makes me stronger.

I learned that I am so much more capable than I ever would have given myself credit for. That when I think it’s time to quit, I’ve only just begun.

My face might be burned to a crisp (because I always fucking forget sunscreen), and my body might be aching in places I didn’t even know could ache – but my soul is so beyond fed and I am so humbled and changed by this experience.   I can’t wait to do it again.

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Numero treinta!  OLÉ!

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I guess I’ve sort of started doing ‘concert/artist reviews’ with my Johnny Reid post, so here’s another!  Prepare for length; I have 3 artists to cover!

When I think of country music, I tend to think: home-grown, strong roots, authenticity.

I’ve been a country music fan my entire life.  Some of my favourite memories from my childhood are weekend mornings, waking up to the sound of country music blaring and my mom singing along (sometimes the vacuum cleaner added an extra essence to the melody).   I suppose you could say that country music runs through my veins.

Music – in general – is a very important part of my life and I love going to concerts, especially when they involve country artists.  I’ve met so many amazing people through country music (and developed some pretty awesome friendships), and yet, each time I meet someone new or experience a show for the first time – I’m always so surprised with how I feel.  I suppose maybe it has something to do with the way of the world these days, and how shocking it can be to still come across such wonderful, sincere people in it.

Last night was an amazing night (drunk stranger shenanigans aside).  You know, this year I’ve really pushed to make positivity my main mantra, and it’s been great!  But I’m not made of plastic and so there are still those bum days.  April is always a tough month for me, but this year in particular (in less than one week to be exact) will mark the 10 year anniversary of the loss of one of the most important people in my life.

The #CertifiedCountry tour could not have rolled through at a better time for me.  The line-up itself was like a golden triad: Gord Bamford, Joe Nichols, Beverley Mahood.  WHAT?!  I couldn’t miss it, and I’m SO glad I didn’t.

First to grace the stage was the lovely Beverley Mahood.   I’ve been a fan of Bev’s since I was an awkward 12 year old, belting out “I Want A Man” into my hairbrush  (Lace throwback, anyone?).  It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I had the absolute pleasure of meeting her.  Even though she hails from Ireland, when you think of a “Sweet Georgia Peach”, you think of Beverley.  She is sweet as pie.  She carries a genuine air about her; she has true authenticity to her character.  She’s the type of person that, when she speaks with you, makes you feel like the most important person in the room regardless of who you are.   One of the traits my grandfather passed on to me is being a good judge of character.  In plain English, when I meet good people – I know it.  Beverley is good people.  She’s also got incredible talent!  Check out her new single “New Religion“, which is SO good (and I’m so excited for her new album!!!)… or my all time favourite summer jam “Hope and Gasoline“. UGH. THAT MELODY.  Her music evokes emotion, and it’s brought me through a lot over the years of my life – especially the more recent years.  There are always those songs we hear that remind us of the good times and the bad/the happy and the sad…but there is one song in particular that helps to get me through those tougher than though days – “I Can’t Outrun You“.  I find it so comforting when I find a song I can relate to – right down to the core of it.  I often wonder if artists think about the lives they will touch when they write songs, or how meaningful their words will become to other people.

Next up was Joe Nichols.  It was like a mega flashback to my teen years.  His music was very popular in our household, so hearing it live really turned up the nostalgia.  I’ve never actually had the pleasure of seeing him in concert, but he’s so awesome!  He is such a down-to-earth performer, but at the same time is the guy that seems like a hella good time, you know?  Songs like “Brokenheartsville“, “The Impossible” and “She Only Smokes When She Drinks” were always in the background noise of my life.  Then of course, there’s the classics like “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Off” and “Yeah“.  If you’re unfamiliar with his other work, you KNOW you’ve heard these two hits.  I always find myself singing and bopping along to these when they’re on the radio.  I’m glad I finally got a chance to see Joe perform; listening to him sing brought back so many of the wonderful feelings and memories I had growing up.  It really was such a treat!  Thankful for moments like that 🙂

And last, but certainly not least, Gord Bamford.  Now, if I’m being completely honest here, I can’t say I was a huge fan previous to this show.  I mean, I’m familiar with his songs (I’m always singing along to them at work when they’re on the radio),  but I didn’t really take it much further than that until I purchased tickets to his show. Now?  Fan, through and through.  For me, sometimes it takes seeing an artist perform to really become a fan.  Something to do with matching personality to music, I suppose.  Gord Bamford is country.  When you think of a country song, you’re probably thinking of something he created.  You can really see his small town personality shine through everything he does.  I’ve heard a lot of great things about him within the ‘country music circle’ and I gotta say I’m more than impressed.  When I say that he is country, it’s because he has the values and the heart of gold to prove it.  There was a very touching moment when he invited his cousin onto the stage with him, and presented him with an autographed guitar for his birthday.  I’m pretty sure my eyes weren’t the only wet ones in the house.  Like a boss (and a true leader), he took up-and-coming artist Jesse Mast under his wing to mentor him and show him the ropes.  He speaks so lovingly about his family, and his pride for his children radiates out of his face like sunshine. He very sweetly took the time to sincerely thank us all for spending our hard earned money to see his show.  He also does so much for charity in support of youth across Canada and in our own backyard.  I can’t really think of a better role model to have out there for country music fans.  He embodies the entire package.   It truly is so inspiring that someone from a tiny place in Alberta can make such an impact! “When Your Lips Are So Close“, “Don’t Let Her Be Gone“, “Is It Friday Yet“, “Blame It On That Red Dress” – check these out.  Also, keep your ears peeled for “Breakfast Beer” and “Apples” – I’m sure these two are going to be big hits!

If you have a chance to check out these artists on the Certified Country tour, do it!  They all bring such a positive message with what they do, and that positivity is so infectious.  You’ll leave smiling and feeling like your faith in humanity is restored 🙂

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I loooooooove lace, and especially pairing it with anything ‘country’.

Lace, fringe, leather.  That’s my #CountryChic !

Top: Ricki’s
Trousers: H&M
Blazer: Dynamite Clothing (similar)
Shoes: Ardene (I KNOW, RIGHT?!)

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Twenty Nine

Friday night is always movie night for my boyfriend and I.
We LOVE the cinema, and so it’s one of our favourite things to do together.  It also conveniently satiates my obsession with popcorn, so it’s like 2 birds with 1 stone really.

My style generally leans towards the Tom Boy end of the spectrum, and this “Rocker Chic Pink Lady” outfit (Grease, anyone?) I threw together definitely follows that theme.

(Currently, I am enjoying my Sunday in a leopard print onesie.  I can’t determine which OOTD is better – Friday night’s look, or today’s.  It’s a tie, really.)

Jeans:  GUESS.  You can find a similar pair here (bonus, they’re on sale).
I guess the specific style I’m wearing is no longer available.  😦  GUESS Jeans are amazing for fit and comfort, and they also help to accentuate the booty – which is always a plus 😉

Tops:
Bodysuit with Lacing (H&M)
Flannel Shirt (H&M) – This specific one I recently picked up on Clearance.
Leather Jacket (H&M) has been in my closet a few years, and is presently my most loved outerwear piece.

Shoes:
Winners Fab Find!

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Happy Sunday, friends!

“A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.”