Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Living My Best Life With Anxiety.

Hi. My name is Kathy, and I have anxiety. Acknowledging that anxiety is something that I live with was never my issue.   Learning how to deal with it and maneuver it, is another story altogether.   It's what brings me to this blog post. 

I have been wanting to share this post for a while now, after an episode I had last Spring that catapulted me into the clutches of anxiety and depression (its annoying cousin); but I was afraid that if I shared this post, any possible employer that would google me or read my blog, would see my anxiety as a 'problem.’  It's sad that we still live in a world where mental health and sanity are not seen as important or far worse, that if you complain of being sad, anxious, or even having an off day, you are quickly labeled 'crazy,' or something to that degree.  There have been strides with many celebrities, advocates and “real" people like you and me opening up more and more to share their stories and realize that we are a community of support that share a common ground. This is why I wanted to share my story with a little more depth. 

I'm a very honest and open person. I like to share my experiences in hopes of helping others in some capacity.  I've shared my experience of losing a parent, of becoming a parent, of my struggles with baby blues, adapting to a new city, and so forth. Chances are if you have DM’ed to ask me anything personal, you didn't get any sugar coated responses. Who we are is all we have to give. Our experiences shape us, they teach us, help us grow and help us become better versions of ourselves.  It is through these difficult and challenging experiences, that we realize how truly resilient we are, that we can overcome and that we are human.  We embrace our flaws, our missteps, our successes and failures and wrap them up in a big messy bow.  And that is our gift to the world, to our families and most importantly, to ourselves. 

I learn this daily through anxiety. I won't lie, it’s a challenge and not always easy to learn. I have good days where I feel like Wonder Woman and there are those days I can barely get out of bed - but I do.   Everyday is a new opportunity to do so and climb that mountain, and it’s okay to ask for help. If it weren't for certain people in my life, this would have been even more isolating, much scarier and hopeless. 

This is the story I want to share. I'm sure I'll go back and read this 100 times before I post, and wish that I had added this or that, because hey, anxiety. There's so much I want to say without it getting lost.  At times, you'll read this and it won't be pretty. Maybe some of you can relate specifically or you know someone in the same boat. All our journeys are different. Anxiety is different for every person that suffers from it.  What works for one person, might not work for another, so it is important that I stress that what I am about to share is my journey, and my journey only. 

Anxiety has a funny way of manifesting itself. It's mostly triggered by fears or certain feelings that are nicely tucked away in our subconscious until one day, POOF! There's a physical and emotional eruption that is sometimes difficult to explain or know where it came from. That's when all that fun digging starts until you get to the root of things and so the nurturing process begins. 

On April 23rd, 2016, I had one of these eruptions. You push, and push and push, until suddenly you can't push anymore and it all catches up to you. A combination of stressors from being over-scheduled, caring for a new baby in a new city, finances, work, juggling two kids, marriage, and not stopping to truly 'rest' or take a breather, caused my mind to go into overdrive and crash. I used to explain it as 'imagine you try to reboot a computer and it doesn't start. Its officially burnt out. Its done.' That's how I felt. The screen in my head went black. I was familiar with the symptoms and effects from the last big episode I had (I call these the BIG ones), on March 15, 1999, so I knew what was coming wasn't pretty. Physically, my heart is racing a million miles a minute, my stomach is on a continuous loop of painstaking drops, I sweat and cry. Worst of all, is a mind that goes limbic. My mind becomes a rambling compilation of obsessive thoughts that seem to have no end. I want to jump out of myself when they take over. I learned that it wasn't about controlling the thoughts, because when you are in that state of anxiousness, thats not going to happen. It’s about redirecting these thoughts.   And somehow if do get window of clarity during anxiety, you have to seize the opportunity and tell your rational mind to be calm and remember that what you're experiencing is an anxious mind.  A mind that’s more like a chicken without a head.   Easier said than done, right?  It takes time.  Reeling in anxiety isn't an overnight thing. Hence, when people share their awesome wisdom such as, "calm down" or "just breathe" or my favorite, "what are you anxious about," you pretty much want to punch them in the face. 

My anxiety stopped me from living my best life at that moment. I mustered up every ounce of energy I had in me every day to dress Maya for school, pick her up and take care of Rocco to the best of my ability at the time. Coco's job flexibility ended up being a blessing in disguise because most of the time he worked from home to be with me.  Bless his heart.  Its never easy for your significant other to see you in such a state, knowing that there’s very little they can do to help.  There was so much helplessness on his end, as well. My days were spent with curtains drawn, never leaving the house (or the sofa for that matter) because I didn't want to see light.  I didn't speak to friends. I canceled any and all social activities. I pushed myself to attend Maya’s ballet recital and her soccer match because even though I was in disarray, I wanted her to see that I was there for her, even if it was just a shell of me.

Mornings were the toughest, as that was when my overactive mind was the strongest.  I had to make sure to get out of bed and stay distracted so I wouldn't be sucked into that vortex of despair.  I tried meditating, which didn't work for me.  Walks in the park with the dogs helped slightly. What really helped me besides getting myself to a therapist 3-4 times a week, was watching comedy shows. It helped me during the first Big One, and it helped me again. So a special shout out to Liz Lemon and the 30 Rock gang and Kimmy Schmidt for helping me stay sane.  I also wrote. A lot.   Again, during my first Big One, I had a notebook where I would write all of my daily thoughts, no matter how horrible, incoherent or embarrassing they were, I wrote them all down. It was cathartic.  I noticed that as soon as I would put them on paper, there was a sense of relief, so I kept writing. When I was finally feeling like myself again or version 2.0, I burned the notebook. I did the same this time around, minus the burning.  But I would carry this small notebook with me everywhere and I would write my obsessive and overactive thoughts. I would jot down helpful tips and notes that I would find on anxiety-centric sites, or self-help books. I would read them 2-3 times a day, sometimes more. It was a way to train my mind and help it remember that this person right now, right at this moment, going through a stressful bout with anxiety, wasn't me. I couldn't let these thoughts overpower me. I couldn't let them stake claim in my mind. 

Here's how I describe to people when they ask what anxiety feels like for me, specifically at this point when I couldn't function.  It’s a dark place. It’s like being in a hole and not being able to get out no matter how much you want to. It’s like being in quicksand and trying - really trying - to grab on to anything that can help you get yourself out, but there’s nothing to grab. It’s not caring about sitting in your pajamas or the same clothes for days at a time, not taking baths, not caring about how you look or what you wear.  I didn't eat. I lost 11 pounds without trying and I all I wanted was to get better. It’s funny, I was recently reading an essay that model, Chrissy Teigen had written about her post-partum depression and anxiety.  I thought to myself, "Holy shit. This girl just described EXACTLY what I had felt." I knew I wasn't alone, but for someone to explain these symptoms and the withdrawals associated with depression and anxiety, was enlightening https://www.glamour.com/story/chrissy-teigen-postpartum-depression

Through the darkness and the daily struggles of trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel, I made decisions to slowly and surely start living again and to get myself on a non-rutted path. I was very thankful to my mother-in-law who flew in from New York at Coco's request, didn't ask any questions and stayed with me for three weeks to help me take care of the kids.  She helped pick up the slack that my anxiety wasn't letting me.  She would sit and hold me as I cried over feeling this way and didn't roll her eyes when I would make her watch episodes of 30 Rock on repeat.  While she was here, I upped my therapy game even more.  I'm from the mindset that everyone should have a therapist and if it weren't for mine the first time around, I wouldn't have known how to help myself when this one came around. I was seeing an anxiety specialist 3-4 times a week in addition to phone sessions. It was a safe haven. The more I spoke about it, the better I felt and that gave me hope. 

Another big thing I did, was get on medication. This was difficult for me because of the stigma attached to it. I kept telling myself at first, "I don't need it. I was able to do it without it the first time around, I can do it again." But I couldn't. I had to remember that when I had my first big anxiety attack at the age of 17, almost two years after my mom's death, I was a teenager dealing with different life stressors. My stressors at 17 were very different than the ones at 35. I made the choice to get on medication not only for myself, but for my kids. I needed to function for them, and if the medication was going to help me do that, then I would try for them. I'm not talking about a 'calm your nerves at the moment' pill like a xanax (though I do keep those when I fly because they are huge help), I wanted something that would balance the serotonin in my brain chemistry so I could find that stability that I was lacking physically, mentally, and emotionally. It was one of the best decisions I made. I want to make it clear though, that because you are on medication, it doesn't mean that your anxiety is gone. You still have to do the work. Medication allowed me to use my tools more effectively, to think with a more rational mind and to redirect my obsessive thoughts. It gave me the power to keep going. I gained the weight back, the physical symptoms of anxiety subsided and little by little, I was able to perform day to day functions with ease and even delight. 

I made the very personal choice of getting off social media. Social Media is one of the most amazing technologies to date but it can also be very isolating and negative. It has the ability to consume you, if you allow it. It can create feelings of negativity, false realities, and disconnect you from emotional growth with others and ourselves. It’s easy to let it effect you, so I shut it down. I got off Facebook completely, and didn't post on my Instagram for seven months. Being a writer/influencer, social media is a significant component of what I do but at that point, my sanity and getting better was far more important. Besides, I wasn't in the mood to post fashion shots of myself. That's how you know I wasn't in a good place! Ha! 

I spent a lot of time with Coco and the kids. They were the only people I wanted to be with. My friends were hugely supportive and respectful, always checking in with Coco or myself, giving me space, but also worried. I can't blame them.  Their support, their texts, their words of encouragement, meant the world to me. My best friend even took Maya a few times for me when I wasn't feeling like a fun parent. I'm grateful for that. Coco continues to be my angel on the ground. His patience, compassion, love, and understanding, gave me peace of mind, but also strengthened the fact that marriage isn't always rainbows and butterflies. It’s during tough times like these, that bonds get reinforced and respect grows tenfold. 

My anxieties are always triggered by abandonment, loss and control...and they will always be. During my first Big One, it was a short breakup with my boyfriend at the time, that threw me into a scary anxiety episode of endless tears, sleepless nights, panic attacks and fear that ultimately revealed that I was grieving the death of my mom and all the empty thereafter that came with it. I was so concerned with moving forward and keeping my head up and keeping it together for everyone else, that eventually it caught up to me. It always does. This isn't fun to deal with when you're 17 on the cusp of graduating high school and going off to college. It was frightening. Going away to college was something I had to put aside and it devastated me.  But I knew I needed to get better and I didn't want to risk another attack while I was away and have no one there to help me. With the help of my therapist, my uncle (who would fly down from Chicago every weekend to be with me), my boyfriend at the time (a lot for a 17 year old kid to deal with so I commend him for that), and my Mom's guidance, I got back on my feet. It took me a good year but I came out stronger, wiser and a lot more confident. I learned that I did not let anxiety define me. 

Fast forward almost twenty years later and the pattern seems to be familiar. A silly fight, which I can no longer remember the cause (probably brought on by the insane amount of stress we’d been dealing with), triggered a whole new feeling of abandonment and fear of losing Coco - of losing what I love. On top of that, pushing myself in an unhealthy way and not taking into consideration that here I am, with a new baby, that I should be taking it easy and all I kept thinking was, "you have to keep it together. you have to do this for your family, Go go go.  It's a nice thought, but by doing that I did the opposite. Hell, I went straight from the hospital after getting discharged from my delivery to Maya’s school to pick her up at dismissal. I did a Selena Gomez interview with stitches still in my vagina, one week after giving birth.  I don't know the definition of ‘stop’ sometimes but if it’s one positive thing about having anxiety, is that it’s quick to remind you when it’s time to put on the brakes.  Post-anxiety attack Kathy, doesn't pack her calendar with things to do. There’s a lot more 'me time' in there or as I like to say, 'mental health days' and I love it. 

Before I wrap this baby up, I wanted to touch upon those thoughts. Thoughts related to anxiety vary from person to person. Like I mentioned earlier, anxiety has a funny or I should say, fucked up way, of taking on a form and infiltrating your mind to making you think these are real or hold any merit whatsoever.  Guess what?  They don’t.  When you pay attention to these thoughts or focus on these thoughts, even fight these thoughts, you make them bigger and give them more power. They're more menacing. One of the things I learned is that instead of fighting these thoughts, step aside, let them be and redirect them. The more we fight and give attention to these negative thoughts, the more they'll stick around.  I know it’s not always easy to focus on the positive, but I am a big believer in that.  One of the more positive things I learned about anxiety is that these scary, anxious thoughts do serve a purpose - and that’s to remind us of what matters to us and what we value above all.  For me, it’s my family, my husband and my kids. 

When you lose a parent or someone you love, your triggers when it comes to loss and abandonment are heightened and if you are a parent, make that double. Looking back at my childhood, there were definitely instances of smaller scale anxiety episodes or obsessive compulsive worrying over things that were non-existent but that consumed me to the point that I couldn't function. For example, I was traumatized by the movie Chucky and for many months thought that he would come get me in my room, while I bathed, in school, etc. I would use towels and trash baskets to secure the door when I would shower, and when someone came over for dinner and brought their 'My Buddy' doll, I practically died. I snatched the doll, climbed to the highest shelf in the closet, and hid the doll there so it 'wouldn't get me.' When I was an early teen, I convinced myself I had AIDS. I know, you're probably like "WTF?" So am I, don't worry.  But I did, I convinced myself that because I had swapped spit with my teen crush and some video in Home Ec class told me that if you had an open sore you would get AIDS, well that’s all I needed to self-diagnose. I didn't eat, I made my mom write a note to the teacher so I would be excused from watching that video and even came clean to my mom, that I had (GASP!), made out with a boy at the age of 14.  So when it became clear I didn't have AIDS, I let my thoughts runaway with me again and convinced myself that I had Leukemia instead because they were taking too long to give me blood work results, because why not?  Anxiety, you have a wicked sense of humor. Only this time my mom wasn't having it and whipped me back to reality quick.  So you see, the point is, that anxiety and overactive imagination have always been a part of who I am. 

I did so much research and read so many books and sites on anxiety, I can pretty much add 'Dr.' to my name.  Joking aside, these sites and books dedicated to anxiety were a big part of my healing process. I wrote down pieces that resonated with me, like these ones for instance. I'm not sure which site specifically they came from but when I find it, I'll add link, but it said...

"Why do little children think ghosts, goblins and monsters are real? As adults, we know they aren't. Your thoughts aren't 'real' either in the sense that you create and reinforce them and the emotions that go along with them. Your thoughts are only what you decide to believe in and continually reinforce in your mind." 

"Thoughts are a symptom of anxiety and depression, just like spots are a symptom of chicken pox. If you had chicken pox, you would just accept spots as part of it, ignore them while they can, and allow them to pass. Anxious, obsessive thoughts are the same as they are a symptom, need to be seen as a symptom, allowed to do their thing and pass over." 

"Analysis creates Paralysis. Our tendency is to think too much and to paralyze ourselves with our rumination. We have a choice; Realize what we're doing to ourselves, get up, find a distraction do something positive!"

That last statement is a tough one to follow, but its absolutely true. It’s exactly what I am trying to do as I get ready to head out on our first trip  sans the kids.  For me, the night before I leave and the flight itself is the worst. I'm a mess. Its called anticipatory anxiety. Add that one to my list. I'm already missing the kids, I'm having panic attacks, and I'm second guessing my decision to go on the trip and try to convince myself that I don't need to go on a trip. Thankfully, I push through.  I normally take a xanax (lately I've been trying not to if the anxiety isn't so bad or the flight isn't bumpy), or I have a glass of wine to mellow out a bit. I always have to be connected to the internet when I fly because it helps me (like if screaming in all caps to someone that we're crash landing is going to do anything), and lately I've been downloading movies or shows on Netflix to watch and keep me entertained and distracted. Lastly, I always pray (and breathe) for safety and smooth sailing. Oh and did I mention, I make it very clear to the stewardess when I board that I have anxiety and I would like to speak to the captain for a weather report and this, REALLY helps me. Extreme, but hey, we do what works for us! 

Naturally, the thought of something happening to me and leaving my kids without a mother is one of my biggest anxiety struggles and one that is currently on my mind.  I even called our estate lawyer to make sure our will was in place and called my sister-in-law to give her a rundown of wishes I wanted for the kids in the event…God forbid...that we expired. I am definitely keeping distracted, redirecting my thoughts and trying to focus on the positive, which is a sponsored trip that I get to share with my other half, where we get to spend quality time together, sleep in, relax and basically be child-free for three days.  Most parents wouldn't blink an eye.  Truthfully, yes, I'm so excited but I'm terrified. When you lose a parent, this reality becomes so much more real to you.  I’ve been plagued so many times with the unwanted 'what ifs,' "What if I die?  What if the plane crashes?  What if I get kidnapped and killed?  What if there’s a terrorist attack?  What if something happens to my kids while I'm away?  What will happen to my kids if they don't have me? What if something happens to both of us?  What if they're sad all the time?  I don't want to leave my kids!"  And well,  this song and dance is familiar when you're a parent and have kids.  Only when you have anxiety, it’s exaggerated to the 100th degree.  I even toyed with the idea of putting Coco and I on separate flights in case one of our planes crashed.  I mean, screw you, anxiety! That's what my anxious mind says. I then have to work extra hard to get my rational mind into overdrive and say to myself, "Kathy, breathe. Everything is going to be fine. Enjoy this time away with your husband. Have fun and relax. The kids will have a blast with grandma. It's only a couple of days. You will be back." 

It has been so reassuring and very encouraging to hear from other parents, from my own friends who have been my strongest support system in this and from you guys, my squeezers because when I first posted about my struggles on instastories, you all were quick to DM me - an instant connection!  I also realized that many of you can relate to the struggles of anxiety and depression but are afraid to speak about it, and I'm here to tell you, that you are not alone. You would be surprised at how many women and men deal with this on the daily and there is nothing wrong with that.  You're awesome, strong and resilient!  We are all here to help one another.  We aren't robots and we shouldn't be. We're allowed to ask for help and guidance from others and from God, to cry if you need to and laugh when we want to. 

Anxiety and depression do not define us, we cannot allow them to stop us from living our best life, and dare I say, let’s embrace this strange gift, because it is sometimes through the hardships and frustrations of A&D, that we grow to become who we want to be and who we're meant to be! 

In Love and In Style, 


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Red Hot Confidence is Right In Your Closet....And in Your Soul.

There's a reason why red is the color of the season! It's bold, it's loud, it's confident! Is there something that you wear that makes you feel confident? What is it about this color that just automatically makes you feel like you're a rock star walking on water (or basically, Beyonce)? Red commands attention. It makes a statement and it means you want to be seen and be acknowledged. Want to take it to to the next level? Dip yourself in red from head to toe, like I did when I recently went back home to NYC and took a photographic stroll with my photographer, Lauren, in the Village. I can't tell you how many compliments I got on this look while covering fashion week shows. I was thisclose to jumping on that runway because I was feeling oh so good and confident! You could read it on my face! There was that extra sparkle. Confidence to me is also a pop of red lipstick. It's an instant mood changer, and why not flaunt it some more with this all-red H&M ensemble?! Red is a big hit for fall, as are ruffles. Carmen Miranda your way into the season with ruffles upon ruffles on your next outfit- just make sure its red! 

We covered the clothes and now its time to cover the soul. Let's go deep and have a confident conversation. 

A few weeks ago while I was organizing Maya's homework packet for school, I started thinking about confidence. Here I am, looking through this little girl's classwork, and she's only five, hoping I'm doing the best job possible in instilling a sense of pride, confidence, and self-love in her mind and body. As a mother and as a woman, I do feel it is my job to equip her with the best tools I possibly can, and to constantly remind her of how awesome she is, how smart she is, and how kind she is, even if and when she reaches a threshold of doubt. 

How early in our life, does confidence begin to form? Are we born with it (no relation to the cliche commercial)?  Is it something that begins to take shape in early childhood or adolescence? The word 'confidence' encompasses so many different things to so many and I believe it is cyclical depending on where you are in life. There are those that confidence never wavers. Some are faced with the challenge of trying to find a healthy balance between confidence and self-esteem. Having confidence is a high like no other, but when you lack it for whatever reason or for whatever time, it can make you feel downright miserable and empty. 

I consider myself a pretty confident person. My friends joke I have 'bullet-proof' self-esteem. That didn't happen overnight. The events in my life have absolutely determined my growth in confidence, and at times, my decline. Everything from being an honor roll student and doing well in school to the death of my mother, have been factors in my confidence. Little things with big worth like being a helpful individual or being a good friend or a good wife, are jolts of confidence boosters for my soul. Moving to New York, fighting for what I want, getting what I want, and not letting anything or anyone deter me from my goals, no matter how arduous they seemed, shaped my confidence. Becoming a mother really cemented my confidence in so many ways- talk about a roller coaster! Then there are those moments that make you question your confidence. Am I doing a good job as a parent? Am I being a good romodel? Do I still have what it takes in my career? Will I be able to coexist amicably with my anxiety? Am I doing this whole life thing right? There are no answers to some of these and that's when confidence kicks in- that's where I get my answer. Confidence is resilience and I've proven to myself again and again, that I am resilient. I'm confident because I know that when I set my mind on doing something, look out world, because I'm getting it done. It's knowing that I'm a fucking great parent, but that I also have bad days, and that's perfectly okay. Confidence is making shit happen. It's putting on my favorite red lipstick, messy hair, and strutting out into the world like, "look at me. you should know me." It's taking it one day at a time believing that you are capable of absolutely anything and everything. It is trusting in God, when sometimes its hard to do so because you don't get why things are happening. 

Above all, it's loving who you are and realizing that you are an awesome human being. 

What does confidence mean to you? I wanted to find out- and who better than some of my closest friends and followers. To read all these responses was extremely inspiring! I love the honesty, the positivity, and the motivation in each of these personal definitions. Confidence is not just one thing. It can be physical, mental, and emotional. Heck, its pretty much a combination of these or all three! Confidence is that good juju and it looks like we're all trying to live our best life with a very important ingredient- CONFIDENCE! 

As to how early confidence starts to become a topic of thought and conversation, well, just ask the little ones! I didn't want to exclude our tiny philosophers from this blog experiment  so I asked a group of kids what confidence meant to them. It also turned out to be a great little exercise in communication between parents and kiddos, and that, is always a good thing! 

Go on, read below and get inspired! 

Confidence is sexy. It’s caring for yourself and showing others that you are comfortable in your own skin. - Viviana

I seldom have it.  -Rachel

Confidence is not being afraid of what others think...especially when it comes to taking risks in your career. - Tiffanie

Trust builds confidence. Trusting yourself to do/say what is on your mind or to express how you feel builds confidence. Surrounding yourself with people you trust where you can be honest, builds confidence. And you can therefore take that confidence and build upon it in a wider audience. - Sheila

Confidence is the ability to be yourself.  Your true, unfiltered self and being able to stand by that. - Maureen

Confidence is seeing the good in yourself through all the imperfections. - Becky

Firm belief in myself and others. Confidence means helping others become better versions of themselves. Confidence means promoting love and support. - Karla

Confidence to me is carrying myself with grace, style, and positivity! And that no matter what, I feel proud and beautiful, even when others try to tell me otherwise! And that my confidence is so bright and full, I share it with others and it rubs off on them. - Lydia

Confidence is when a person (or any creature, for that matter) believes in himself or herself and truly believes he/she can achieve whatever they set themselves to do. It requires one to have value themselves. When someone is confident, they are able to take risks and achieve things that having any self-doubt would limit them from doing. When a person is confident, they don't care what obstacles or criticisms come their way, they go one being their merry self because they know they're awesome! - Jenise 

Being confident is finding strength in vulnerability. - Carmen 

Finding confidence and having confidence can be tough sometimes, but its about pulling through, putting your best foot forward and just going for it. Go big or go home.  -Claudia 

Confidence to me is wearing a bomb pair of shoes that sound like power when they hit the ground. Its my bad ass bounce. - T

It means that I'm not perfect, I make mistakes, will have bad days, but no matter what comes my way, I will overcome it, make the best of it, and keep smiling! - Yamile

Confidence is trust, especially when there's no safety net to catch you. -Kristine  

Confidence is an individual's feeling of being sure or certain of oneself ..that creates an inner positive drive in believing they can accomplishing or tackle any task. - Gina

Little voices, BIG impressions! 

Confidence is believing in yourself and trusting yourself. It means to concentrate when the teacher tells you to so you can do your work. - Maya, 5

Confidence is trusting in God. -Gaine, 7 

It means believing in yourself. - Drew, 5 

Confidence is being happy about what you are doing and not being scared. -Emma, 9 

Confidence is doing rainbow writing the way my teacher wants me to, and putting my hand up when the teacher asks who could do the pins safely. - Sarah, 5 

Confidence means I feel good about something. -Kaitlyn, 7

Confidence is being kind and standing up for people. It means helping people up when they feel down. - Reagan, 8

Confidence is that you believe in yourself. To be strong and know that you can do it. Be brave. It means you're nice. Confidence means you can do it and then doing it, like when I say I'm going to ride without training wheels and I do it. -Lucy, 6 

In Style, 


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Fall Fashion Underground With Marshalls

Let's get real. The best part about fall isn't the pumpkin spice lattes or the leaves changing colors. It's not the apple picking or the cool breeze when you're taking a hike, Yes, these things are all 'Fall Fab,' I can't (and won't) disagree with you! The best part about fall, however, is the wardrobe! From the chunky knits to the latest trend in ankle booties, shopping for fall is THE highlight of the season. Also, let's not forget you need the most Instagram-worthy fall closet to pick up that pumpkin spice latte at your favorite coffee shop or to go apple picking at your local orchard.

Mine came in the form of New York- where fall has a way of coming to life. Whether I'm running from shoot to shoot on the train, or heading out east for some wine tasting with the family, my looks have to be on point and on trend. As a New Yorker and a Miamian, my fall wardrobe has to fit both extreme climates while still being comfortable, chic, and budget-friendly! That's where Marshalls (https://www.marshallsonline.com) comes in. Marshalls has never failed me. If there's a specific look or trend that I want to showcase or have fun with, I know that Marshalls will deliver- plus, the unexpected fashion surprises are always a perk (#marshallssurprise)! They offer an incredible and surprising selection of high-quality designer merchandise at insane prices that keeps my bank account in check and my pockets smiling- plus I walk out styling! 

Before heading to New York Fashion Week, I always make sure to pick up a new outfit or two to really get me into that hustle and bustle vibe of the city. The energy, the buildings, the 'getting it done,' attitude of the Big Apple, its enough to inspire and to really capture who I am and what I'm here to do. My clothes needs to reflect that too. I'm a producer and a writer and my job is to cover every beat from celebrities to red carpets. 15 years of covering fashion shows and I still get a rush when I hit the backstage and see all the models getting into their 'first looks.' Covering runway shows is one on my many job descriptions, but also one of my biggest perks! I get a glimpse of what the season's hottest trends are; and, what's even better is I get to scoop up these trends whenever I visit my local Marshalls- and that's exactly what I did when I recently visited the new Lincoln Road location! 

Finding that fall outfit that can fit both New York and Miami can sometimes be challenging; but, that's why its smart and practical to find pieces that are still fall-inspired that you can wear in both hot and cool climates. Marshalls' vast selection of the latest trends makes the process a lot easier. The first thing that caught my eye was this off-the-shoulder gingham blouse with bell sleeves. Summer was all about the gingham trend. We saw it on dresses, skirts, trousers, even high-waisted shorts. Here's the beauty of this particular summer trend- it can make a stylish transition into fall if it's the right piece and the right cut! I actually went a size bigger on the blouse because I'm into anything oversized and I thought it emphasized the off-the-shoulder cuteness of it! I also love the drama of the bell sleeves. There's a bit of that 70's flair that still makes it stand out without being too over-the-top. The price? $12.99! Can you really beat that?! I don't think so. 

I made a few laps around the store all while thinking, "what would I wear this with besides the obvious?" The obvious to me is denim or something black; but, if you know me, I like to be a little more bold in my fashion statements! As I was about to call it a night, thinking how a trip to another Marshalls was definitely in my future, I spotted it. 

Lo and behold, the embroidered faux-leather floral skirt! The Marshalls Surprise gods came through. 

Floral Embroidery is a HUGE trend we are going to be seeing for fall. It started making a presence last spring and by summer, floral embroidery was blooming everywhere. Now fall has adopted the trend and all is well in the world! First off, for $19.99, this skirt is an absolute steal! I knew that it would pair perfectly with the black and white gingham blouse. I love the contrast between both pieces and combining them would be a showstopper! The skirt mixes two of my favorite elements: 'rough and tough' detailing like faux-leather and studs and ladylike touches like the moody florals (dark florals are key for fall). The mini is not a cut that I normally go with; but, I fell hard for this skirt and I didn't feel constricted whatsoever while wearing it. I felt fierce and fabulous and I got so many compliments on this look that it definitely gave my confidence level a boost. 

No look is complete without the perfect pair of shoes and as soon as I saw these gold block heels, I literally let out a yelp. I was THAT Marshalls enthusiast you probably heard if you were at the Lincoln Road location! Here's the truth- I had been coveting the gold Gucci block heels since they first came out; but the price tag was a little too steep. I put that shoe dream to sleep, only to find a more affordable designer version at Marshalls! It was love at first sight and at $29.99, I would have bought two of the same pair if they had an extra one in my size. Block heels are another popular shoe trend for the season and I personally love it because I like a sturdier heel. I also like the chunkiness and its a subtle step into the mod world of the 60s and 70s. 

Taking into consideration that balance between Miami fall and NY fall, I wore a simple pair of black socks with my heels. The schoolgirl trend of heels and socks comes and goes depending on the season and depending on the fashionista! This girl right here, loves her heels with socks! My Marshalls metallic heels look oh so stylish with these sheer black socks. They are ideal for Miami and if you're in much cooler climates, pair your minis with opaque tights! Whether black or a pop of a color, you can pick up a pair at a Marshalls near you. 

When it came to photographing this insane fall look from Marshalls, it was my extraordinary photographer, Kim Mancuso (www.kimmancusophotography.com), who said, "Let's get on a train!" 
Fashion is about self-expression, it's about having fun and doing a little bit of the unexpected. You want your clothes to tell a story and by taking this 'cool-downtown-fashion-girl' look underground, we were really able to show that there are so many different fashion personalities out there and they're all unique! You might think its an nontraditional location to shoot florals or something sexy, but its the opposite. The subway system isn't just a means of transportation, its part of the fabric of NYC. Its where fashion has no hierarchy; where clothes tell a story of who you are, where you've been, and where you're going. It's where I get inspired when I see someone wearing something I really love and go home and try to recreate it with my personal stamp of approval. It's where there are no fashion rules- just fashion. 

From Spring Street to Times Square, I was one of those stories- and thanks to Marshalls, I got to tell mine in the most stylist way possible. 

What's your story? 

In Style,


Friday, September 22, 2017

Summer's Last Hurrah Featuring TJ Maxx and Hotel Colonnade

Slap my hand for I have sinned! I have been promising this post for a few weeks now; but with the appearance of Hurricane Irma and my own two tiny hurricanes at home, well, blog stuff has gotten postponed. Alas though, I am currently here, sitting in front of my computer, tapping away at this thirsty keyboard, and bringing you the last 'summer' post of 2017 (well, because summer seems to always overstay its welcome in Miami). 

It's been a fun and busy summer, with some hiccups along the way (lice, anyone); but the Buccio family has taken full advantage of lazy days with no bedtimes; and, adventures where we could take them. We've cruised, we hit the beach, we did field trips to the museum and every indoor playground imaginable. We decorated cupcakes, did staycations, went to the movies, had countless play dates, celebrated 10 years of marriage, had too much fun back to school shopping, and visited family in NYC (thanks, Irma). Our tiny (albeit beautiful and loving) terrorist turned two and our number one girl officially became a Kindergartener. We came, we saw, we conquered summer. 

On one of our last summer hurrahs, we were invited to experience the newly revamped Hotel Colonnade in Coral Gables (http://www.hotelcolonnade.com). I've often posted about the Hotel Colonnade because it holds a very special place in our hearts- we got married here! Our wedding reception was held in the iconic rotunda and boy, was it memorable (don't ask me, ask the hotel, the guests, and the wedding planner)!  It was a breathtaking setting of red roses and candle (like the red wedding minus the gory deaths), and we sang with the band (we may have broken a guiro), puppies were let loose on the dance floor, and someone (ahem, possibly the bride), ended up in the fountain. Sign of a good time! So when we were invited for a weekend staycation, we were thrilled! Not only were we going to relive some amazing memories, but we wanted to share them with our kids too. 


The hotel has undergone an impressive face lift without sacrificing any of the historic and luxurious elements that make it special. Walk into the Hotel Colonnade now, and you are transported to a more modern, more hip boutique hotel in the heart of Coral Gables. You get the coolness and sophistication rolled in one; so, whether you're a family of four or a couple of lovebirds looking for a chic getaway, its got you covered. The decor is eclectic and vibrant, with pops of color and unique architectural features that can be found on everything from bed pillows and lobby mirrors. 

There were so many things we loved about the hotel; but one of my favorite things believe it or not, was breakfast at the Aragon Cafe. The cafe is so reminiscent of a European hotspot. We loved starting our day with the breakfast buffet and delicious pastries made fresh daily- chocolate muffins for the kids, guava and cheese pastries for us. It was a comfortable setting with cute sofas jazzed up with colorful pillows and mismatched chairs. It was a great spot to catch up on some leisurely reading- which we did (it wasn't just for picture purposes)! Speaking of, the Hotel Colonnade team really knew how to make us feel extra welcome! If you saw my Instastories, I'm sure you caught some of the surprises they left for us in the room! We were so appreciative of them going the extra mile! A bottle of champagne for mom and dad, fashion magazines and a pool hat for mom, the most adorable dragon towel for our baby dragon, and a mermaid tail float for Maya. That's what I call attention to detail! 

Another favorite, especially for the kids, was the family suite! Talk about an upgrade! You really see the hotel's transformation firsthand when you step into one of the rooms. Our room was two floors, with a bunk bed, a second bathroom, and a big screen TV for the kids on the second floor. As you can imagine, they were in HEAVEN.  Mom and dad were able to have semi-privacy with our own bed and bathroom on the first floor and our own TV, where we watched whatever we wanted to watch  (it's the little things). Our room overlooked the hotel pool, with views of Miracle Mile. The hotel is walking distance to some great shops and restaurants (we made several trips to Barnes and Nobles with the kids). You can also take a trolley or jump on one of the hotel's bikes available for guests to rent at no charge! Convenience is key, and the hotel makes it SO easy to explore everything the Gables has to offer. We actually kept it very local with dinner at the hotel's 'unofficial/official' restaurant, House Kitchen and Bar (http://www.housekitchenbar.com), which is not only delicious and kid-friendly, but also happens to be a nightly hotspot with great music and a lively crowd; and, before dinner, we made sure to pop into the also upgraded and renovated hotel bar. It's so chic with old photographs of the hotel, friendly bartenders, and a conversation friendly layout that makes it a great spot to grab a drink before hitting the town! 

Have I sold you yet on a staycation at the Hotel Colonnade?! You gotta go! 

Let's not forget the pool! I'm more of a 'laid back- lounge on a chaise- swim at my leisure- kind of girl- which basically means I don't like loud pool parties with loud music, loud people, or raucous. Hanging at the Colonnade pool with the kids was DIVINE and fit the bill for my pool needs. They have pool noodles for the kids, sofas and chairs to lay out on, and though the pool is not huge, it serves its purpose! The only thing I would add is drink service at the pool. Nothing a cocktail can't fix! 

Our staycation at the Hotel Colonnade coincided with back to school shopping for Maya, so before hitting the hotel, we stopped at one of our favorite stores, TJ Maxx, and loaded up on some outfits and school supplies! Now, did you think that I wasn't going to pick up something for myself at the Maxx?! It's back to school shopping for me too, right?! I AM going to school with her, so it all makes sense. I thought it would be perfect to bring our outfits along to our staycation. 

Maya loves picking out her clothes and though I like to give my input on things (because I'm a stage mom), I want her to be able to express herself and find things she loves (with mom's approval, of course). She gets so excited when she finds something that she really likes and if it looks like anything I have in my closet, she freaks out. Twinsies! That's what I love about big box stores like TJ Maxx, you find incredible deals at amazing prices. It's guilt-free shopping! After browsing through the kids' section, Maya picked out this navy blue and white Hello Kitty dress, because hello! It's Hello Kitty! She loved the tutu skirt because its fun to twirl, she said, and she wants to wear it to a playdate with her school friends. 

She also picked up this furry penguin notebook for school because that's where she wants to write about her day and her feelings, she told me. That's right girl, let those feelings out! Express yourself! There's a budding writer inside of you. 

It's on to my look, kids! The obsession is real with this TJ Maxx wrap around dress; and, for $19.99 it was quite the steal! The color combination instantly caught my eye! The fuchsia with aqua just screams, POP POP POP! I'm all about versatility and what I love about this dress, is that I've worn it several times in different settings, with different shoes, makeup, and accessories. When I go shopping, I'm all about practicality. Long are the days of buying something and only wearing it once. Goodness, I think back at how much money I spent in my 20s buying a trend piece that I only wore one time. I would probably have a designer closet with all that wasted money.  Nowadays, if I can't wear something more than five times, it doesn't go home with me. My dollars need to take me far! 

This is one of those dresses. I've already worn it three times and no doubt I'll be wearing it again, considering Miami is an endless summer. Guess what, though?! If I really wanted to take it into fall, all I have to do is throw on a leather jacket, some tights, some leather booties or heels, and I'm ready for pumpkin spice lattes! 

I've really been into dresses with sneakers in the last year and it doesn't look like I'll be retiring that 'ladylike ath-leisure' vibe anytime soon. Case in point- I paired the dress with these insane Sam Edelman pom pom slip-ons I scored at the Maxx! Not a likely combination, but that's whats fun about fashion- pairing the unexpected and making it work! Like a true Maxxinista, I scrounged through every shelf to find a size 6 in these beauties and I did!

You're looking at a very satisfied fashionista. 

No look is complete without the perfect shade of lipstick, and mine was begging for a hot pink pout! I couldn't think of a more fashionable way to wrap up such a fun staycation! 

In Style,