Social Media, For Better or For Worse?

IMG_0397Somewhere along the way, I got off track with social media. On the one hand, social media has great benefits including staying in touch across the miles, promoting your business and finding a new job. But there is a balance one should maintain, and I, during the last two years especially, was doing a terrible job of pulling back when I should.

My first social media account was on MySpace. I know I am dating myself! As everyone knows, MySpace was eclipsed by Facebook, which I joined in mid-2008, four years after it launched, hesitant to go where I thought only college students tread. Other social media formats followed, and it was not long before we were Tweeting, Pinning, Snap Chatting and Instagramming with people far and near.

I created a business page on Facebook, and I joined Twitter as a means of raising my business profile for my new career in image consulting. It worked. By late 2010, I was receiving business from Google searches. Pinterest swept me into its arms in 2011, and I built boards geared at educating clients and keeping myself on top of trends. I joined Instagram in 2013, mostly to maintain a presence to avoid looking like a dinosaur. One must keep up!IMG_9991

I spent a good amount of time building a following across these four platforms, in addition to my personal business website and my blog. The time I spent on social media was mostly reasonable, and it rarely eclipsed the day-to-day work required of a small business. By 2014, my business was on a roll. I was speaking at least once per quarter and working with a steady stream of personal clients. I give a lot of props to social media for this momentum.

Yet, after our move to Seattle in January 2015, I became depressed and I collapsed into social media as an escape. The mere idea of starting over in a new city drained me of all energy, and I spent more and more time immersed in a world of highlight reels.

My husband tried to talk to me about my social media use on a few occasions, and each time I became defensive. I was homesick, and I missed my friends. Seeing them on social media was my way of being with them. On a deeper level, I was angry at my husband for this big change, and retreating into social media was one way I could punish him. What I realize now is I was punishing myself by missing out on life with my family. I was often choosing social media over them. The happy moments occurring right under my nose were going unnoticed and unappreciated.

IMG_0127Social media, at first an innocent escape, became a robber in my life. It robbed me of time, motivation, confidence and joy. When I finally decided to pull my head out of my rear and examine my social media use, I realized my husband was right and I was wrong. He was not asking me to give up social media. He understands the benefit of it for my business. He was simply asking for more of me at the appropriate times.

The solution that worked for my husband and me is we drew up a schedule of when neither of us would be on social media at all. With a few slips here and there, we have stuck to it. The things I need to do for my brand marketing are easily condensed, and I am feeling much more engaged with my husband and my kids. Further, I am reading more, working out again, and doing other things that bring me happiness and fulfillment, like writing.

If you are struggling to pull back from your phone, here are a few tips:

  • Set a time schedule of when you will or won’t be on social media.
  • Keep a log of when you are on social media, and write down the reasons you are using it. Escaping occasionally into social media is fine. Escaping for several hours per day when there is important work to do is not okay.
  • Ask your partner how he/she feels about your social media use, and adjust where needed. It might enhance (or save) your relationship.
  • Remember your social media feed is not real life. If you feel you are missing out, you are. Look up from your phone and observe the world around you. Don’t miss it!

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The Day I Was Asked to Move

woman pointingHonestly, I have struggled with low self-worth and marginal self-confidence since moving to Seattle two and a half years ago. I have worked my entire adult life, pulling in a decent paycheck to cover my expenses plus a few extras. Now that I am the new girl in a city where I have few friends with a business that is relatively unknown, I am making about zero. Although I am taking excellent care of my family, I am equating my business net worth with my personal self-worth. I know this is the wrong way of viewing it, but it is a difficult mindset to alter.

I was recently asked to attend a $150 per plate (suggested donation) luncheon for the second year. I am new to Seattle, and although this is a hefty sum for my business, I accepted because, me forever being the optimist, you never know who you will meet and the connections you might make.

My table captain texted me the day of the event telling me she had oversold the table by one and that I would be sitting nearby. I was not bothered because I knew I could make good connections regardless of where I sat. I arrived uncharacteristically early to see I was not only one of the first to my table, but I was also sitting at the table of my original table captain. Great!

I settled in and I began chatting with each person as they arrived. I was delighted to see one lady I recognized from last year, and I waved and smiled as I drawled, “Heeeey!!!” across the table. I was having a nice time!

About five minutes before the program was to begin, I noticed a small hubbub off to the side. My table captain and another lady were speaking to each other. Suddenly, my table captain asked me from across the table if I would move so this other lady could sit down. I was stunned and embarrassed. I quietly told the gentleman seated to my left I was being asked to move, and I quickly gathered my belongings and vacated the seat.

As I sat one table over in my new seat, I was rattled and hurt. The little self-worth I had remaining was spent. I felt tears welling up despite telling myself not to be upset. That’s when I knew I had to leave to avoid making a scene. As discreetly as I could, I left with my $150 check still in my wallet, and I cried in my car all the way home. As I recounted the story to my husband that evening, I cried some more.

To be made to feel you are not welcome, not good enough or not important hurts beyond description. To be fair to my table captain, her actions were not a personal attack. She was simply accommodating those who had been long-time supporters at this event. However, I was taught one makes the newcomer feel the most welcomed of all.

Because I am an optimist and I look for lessons in the trials of life, here are three things I took away from this difficult day:

  • Know your place at the table. You may not be good enough to be at one person’s table, but you sit at the head of your own table and you have the seat of honor at many tables of those around you. One person’s opinion of you does not define you.

 

  • Keep saying yes. Do not allow one bad experience to send you into hiding. Keep your head up, remain true to yourself and continue to accept invitations that come your way. Keeping your heart open is a vulnerable position, but closing your heart is damaging to you and to those around you.

 

  • Remember the lesson when it’s your turn. One day I will be the table captain so to speak. That will be my opportunity to handle the situation differently, making all in my company feel as though they are the most important person in the room.

 

Bethany2015-8795Parting thought: If one day you are asked to move (either literally or figuratively), my advice would be to do so quietly and gracefully, holding onto the knowledge that you are valuable beyond measure.

My Advice To New Moms

PRINT_MG_6479-3I will preface this blog by saying I am not an expert in raising a child. I have 6-year old twins, but this by no means makes me an authority. I read one or two books on caring for a baby before the birth of mine, and that was it.

I was asked by a soon-to-be mom for my motherhood advice. I proffered what was on my mind. She loved it. So, I thought I’d share it on my blog for others who may appreciate it, as well.

  • Don’t go it alone. We’ve all heard “it takes a village” to raise a child. Truer words were never spoken. Don’t try to do everything yourself. If others offer to help you, let them. You will need breaks, and you will need extra hands. Find a mom group in your community for advice and support, for play dates, and, most importantly, for Mom’s Night Out!
  • Trust your instincts. You will be amazed at things you will “just know” because you are their mom even when they cannot tell you what is bothering them. You will learn to read their cries and their moods. However, call the pediatrician and nurses as much as you need to. You will need their guidance.
  • The baby phase goes fast. Try to enjoy it, but it is okay if you sort of hate it sometimes, too. There will be days when you are over all of it. That is fine, and that is normal. (See point #1 about Mom’s Night Out.)
  • Feed your baby however you need to. Advice on breast feeding changes constantly. Do what you can and do what feels right to you and your baby. Each situation and baby is unique. If breast feeding doesn’t work out for you, your baby will be fine! I pumped milk for seven months for my twins and guess what? Once they started crawling, they were sick all the time, and they pretty much stayed sick until two months ago. I am sure I gave them good nutrients, but do not put a lot of pressure on yourself to make it work.
  • Your life will be messy and disorganized. This includes your schedule, your house and don’t get me started on Mommy Brain. It’s real. Just know that one day you won’t have bottles spread all over your kitchen counter, or diapers filling up your trash. You will get back to a new normal, which will still be a bit chaotic and messy, but not as much as the baby phase.
  • You will be a GREAT mom. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I am a horrible mother,” either from other women or inside my own head. No, we are not horrible. In fact, we are fantastic. Do not feed yourself negative talk ever. You will have your own strengths as a mother. They may not be the same as your mom’s nor will they be exactly like those of other moms around you. But your child will think you are THE best mom ever. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.

IMG_8618Have fun, be yourself, don’t compare, and by all means, sleep as much as possible!

My best,

Bethany

(Photos of Nathan & Vivien as infants by Dahlia & Daisies Designs.)

Fall 2015 – The Confident Woman

MenswearIf you were to look at a list of fall trends year over year, you would notice a lot of repetition: leather, fur, black, gray, red, tweed, belts, boots, smoky eyes, etcetera. To get to the heart of the season, you must look beyond the list. The wide array of designs which walk down the runways of Milan, London, New York and Paris magically come together each year to convey an overall mood. Fall 2015 is all about confidence.

The Fall 2015 woman blazes her own path and she calls her own shots. She wears what she loves, and she masterfully combines masculine with feminine in a way that makes sense and looks very relaxed and easy. She is not trying too hard. Rather, she is perfectly imperfect. The Fall 2015 woman is returning to a more sensible way of dressing, as well. We are seeing large tote bags to hold our stuff, a relaxed fit so we can eat lunch and not pop a seam, and chunky heels so we can stand comfortably for long stretches and not tip over in a strong gust of wind.

For the most part, the fall woman is covered up and she leaves much to the imagination, yet she remains extremely sexy. How is this possible? In short, sexy is all about attitude and presence. A confident woman is a sexy woman.

Several trends which are newer to this fall season (though they are not completely new) include long vests, stocking boots, chokers, flares, high waist and pastels. The Pantone 2015 color of the year is marsala, an earthy brown-red. Thus, it should come as no surprise that red is a standout (yet again) for fall from bright red to deep, dark tones. Red fits perfectly into the fall 2015 mood since it is without a doubt a color that conveys confidence and passion.

Style confidence is easy to achieve if you are willing to forget about the expectations of others. There are many who are more than eager to advise you on what to buy and where to invest most wisely for your fall wardrobe. Instead of listening to them, focus on what you want and focus on the woman you are. Greek philosopher and mathematician Thales is credited with saying, “The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.” I hope it will not be the hardest thing you have ever done, but it does take much effort.  Check in with yourself often and trust your gut regarding what is right for you and what is not. The more you trust yourself, the more skilled you will become in choosing pieces that speak to your heart and work for your life.

Have a great fall season, and call me if you need a confidence boost. I am here to help!

Tory Burch “In Color”

ToryJessicaTory Burch, known as much for her love of the color orange as for her sporty flats and dreamy caftans, has released a gorgeous coffee table book today, “Tory Burch: In  Color” about her 11 favorite colors: orange, blue, green, purple, pink, red, yellow, white, black, natural and gold.  I was blessed to meet Tory last week and have her sign the book, which is being released today.  Last Friday afternoon at the Nasher Sculpture Center in downtown Dallas, Tory was joined by her friend Jessica Alba (actress and founder of The Honest Company) to discuss the book and other topics of interest including how she balances motherhood and a career, and the roundabout path she took in starting her namesake company.

Tory considers herself a late bloomer having only started her wildly successful company 10 years ago.  Tory departed a career on the rise with LVMH to stay at home with her three young boys.  Four years later, she started her company because she felt there was a need for high-quality, affordable clothing and accessories.  She certainly hit the mark!  However, she said she was not an overnight success, spending many of her first two years on the phone with her Hong Kong operations until 3:00 a.m. her time.

Tory was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania with three brothers.  Her parents Buddy and Reva (for whom Tory named her first flat) who would leave Tory and her brothers with family to take six-week worldly vacations, returning with various exotic souvenirs.  In addition, Tory’s childhood home entertained many “overnight” guests who invariably would stay long past their expected departure dates.  As as result of this unique upbringing, Tory’s aesthetic reflects an appreciation for diversity, one that is decidedly multicultural.

I greatly enjoyed the event, hosted by American Express, and I am very appreciative to my dear friend Peg Baird for allowing me to be her plus one!  Pick up a copy of the book, even if you are not familiar with Tory or her company.  I think you will find the content, including many beautiful photographs, to be highly inspiring and a lovely addition to your library.  Tory sees the world in color, and I think we all should!

Fall Trends 2014

OrangeDoorAt the end of each summer I produce a card of fall trends, a reference of the biggest trends of the season, in anticipation of fall fashions which begin hitting the stores at about that time.  I simply love fall fashion, the rich colors, the textured fabrics and the beautiful leather goods.  To me, fall fashion is worthy of investment.  Trends come and go, but if you purchase wisely (read: not too trendy) and you take care of your things (yes, pay attention to care instructions), your investments will last you several years (at the least!). 

If you love something but cannot afford it, look for the best version of the knock off or scour vintage stores for something similar.  As you know in fashion, everything old is new again, so it is quite possible what you love has been done before in a previous decade.  One fall I really wanted a moto jacket, but I did not have the budget for a leather jacket.  So, I purchased a pleather version and wore the heck out of it.  A few years later, I got the real thing.

My fall 2014 trends card does not cover all the trends, so below is an extensive list .  If you would like a trends card and a couple of extras for friends, message me.  I would be delighted to send them to you!

Colors:  cobalt, steel, dark red, moss green, pastels, orange and jewel tones

To see a list of the Pantone fall 2014, click here.

Fabrics: shearling, leather, tweed, knits, fur, metallic and velvet

Prints/Patterns: plaid, abstract, color blocking, patchwork and diagonal lines

Oversized: coats, collars on coats, dresses, sweaters (including turtlenecks) and pants

Office:  midi skirts, pant suits, sharp blazers, pin stripes, menswear and neck tie blouses

Details: feathers, accordion pleats, fringe, sequins, western and puffy sleeves

Top layer: ponchos, capes, varsity jackets, bombers, blanket coats and fur-trimmed parkas

Bags: bucket, totes, jeweled clutches and fur top-handle handbags

Shoes: sneakers, flats, ankle boots, brogues and ankle-strap heels

Beauty: ponytails, braids, oversized buns, colorful cat eyes, nude and berry lips and nude and Bordeaux nails

Whew, I probably missed a few, but not many.  If you need assistance finding what suits you, call me.  I love making the shopping experience quick and easy.  I especially enjoy helping people find pieces they would have never considered if they had shopped on their own!  Happy Shopping!

Temper Your Advice

BethanySigginsI subscribe to the Word of the Day from dictionary.com.  I used to keep a document of words I thought I might use, and once the document grew to 11 or 12 pages long, I abandoned it.  Too many words!  I still subscribe, however, and recently one of the words was kibitzer (noun), and its definition is a giver of uninvited or unwanted advice.  I am sure you have experienced a kibitzer (or several) in your lifetime.  Goodness knows I have!  And, shamefully, goodness knows I have been a kibitzer, as well.  (sad face)

How does this relate to fashion, you may ask?  Well, I was reading a recent issue of Elle, which I have subscribed to for many years (hands down it is the best and smartest fashion magazine on the market.)  Though I may skim through some of each issue, I never miss the advice of E. Jean Carroll who has for 19 years written an advice column for Elle called Ask E. Jean.  The very last question to E. Jean in the January 2013 issue was from a slender young lady who needed advice on how to handle unsolicited comments about her figure such as “stop starving” and “legs like arms.”  Can you imagine saying such horrible things to someone?  E. Jean answered her by telling a story of a friend of hers who was trying on navy blue sweater in a shop when a lady paused behind her friend and said, “You’d look better in that if you gained a few pounds.”  E. Jean’s friend (who was dying of throat cancer at the time) answered, “I’m happy just the way I am.”  And it is this retort that E. Jean advised the young lady to use in the future.  Sage advice, don’t you agree?

All this to say, if you are asked for your advice, give it.  If you are not, hold your tongue.  I realize I am in the business of giving advice, but I am paid by my clients to do so.  I would never walk up to a stranger and tell him/her what I could do to improve their image.  I give advice most days on my Facebook page and my LinkedIn profile, and from my Twitter account occasionally (though I’ve been mostly tweeting on my Pinterest pins than anything else of late).  My subscribers know to take my advice with a grain of salt.  Maybe it applies to them, maybe it does not.  Maybe they agree, maybe they do not.  If they do not like the majority of my content, they may unsubscribe, as I am sure some have.

Just be very careful with what you say, how you say it and whether or not you are being asked by the recipient to say it.  I am guilty of offending more than a few people with unsolicited advice, so I am pointing the finger at myself here.  Let’s be careful of others’ feelings!  We don’t know the battles they are fighting.  Have a fabulous week!