Happy 2015!! My blogging break was great, but I missed talking with you all! How was your Christmas + New Years?
Ours was pretty awesome. Aaron and I drove to Abilene to spend the holidays with my family. We had an amazing time sitting in front of the fire playing board games, eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, and going for a Christmas light scavenger hunt.
On the drive back home to Austin, Aaron and I started listening to the audio book Essentialism by Greg McKeown.
Pick up this book as fast as you can. It’s all about saying no to the non-essentials in life/work so we can say yes to the things that are truly essential. It’s super challenging + refreshing + motivating + totally appropriate for New Years.
And this quote from the book blew my mind:
When the word “priority” came into the English language in the 1400s, it only existed in the singular form. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years.
Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about “priorities.” Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we thought that by pluralizing the word we would now be able to have multiple “first” things.
This idea has stuck in my brain and it won’t get out.
Just one priority.
It makes me ask myself: If I had to pick one priority — one thing to focus on this year — what would I pick?
To be honest, I’m still working on it. My tendency would be to pick one thing for each area of my life. You know — relationships, health, work etc. But I’m trying to get myself to answer with just one thing for now.
What do you think you would pick?
In the meantime, remember my awesome reversible tote that has always been brown and has never been reversed? I loved the brown side so much I never thought I’d reverse it. But due to all the overwhelming excitement of the new year, I went wild and reversed it.
Take that new year.
Oh, and the three ingredient recipe for your outfit today?
Start with black jeans, add a graphic tee, and finish with a leather jacket.
Jacket: Zara (similar)
Shirt: J.Crew (different but equally cool)
Jeans: Gap (similar)
Shoes: Madewell (similar)
Lisa | Happy By says
Happy New Year Caroline! Glad you had fun.
I really liked that quote and had never thought about it so straightforward.
Thanks for sharing that and the 3 step outfit :)
I’m as challenged as you, Caroline, about the priority thing. Haven’t heard of the book before, but it is my every year challenge – not to spread my self over too many areas. But…. now I’m planning to take baby steps and focus on 1 thing per month! :-) maybe it’s cheating but as I said.. baby steps. And for me it will be more than challenging enoug to focus on one area at a time in stead of juggle it all at once. ;)
Totally agree with you + love the baby steps approach, Jana. I may end up going that route too — one focus point per month. :) xo Caroline
oh, i do like that: one focus per month. to pick just one priority for the entire year seems a little too restrictive (hopefully we are learning and growing on a daily basis!) i’d like to give this baby steps approach a try too. and i’m adding “essentialism” to my reading list, stat! i just love the conversation and community that goes on over here, we are all learning so much from each other. it’s awesome.
Have you read The Happiness Project? The writer spent a year trying to become “happier”, and focused on one aspect of her life per month for the year… she has a lot of worksheets/organizer materials to help people with their own Happiness Projects, you might want to check it out and see if it’s something that would help you with your baby steps!
JuliaBW, Brighton, UK says
Happy New Year! You look very French today and it’s strange how those flat always make you look slimmer with longer legs – it’s quite inspiring. The quote you added about priorities is so interesting – I think I may share it. A lot of my Facebook friends are sniffy about fashion blogs, but yours seems to be so much more.
Great comment for the new year. Thank you very much. Good luck in choosing your priority.
love this outfit, definitely the cool without trying too hard look
Allison from http://www.mercuteify.com
Happy New Year, Caroline! It’s good to have you back. I was wondering what you did with your red plaid shirts and burgundy sweaters. Did you store them for a future capsule or donate them?
Hi Carol! They are in storage, waiting to be pulled out for next fall. :) xo Caroline
God I’ve missed you ;)
Nicole Henriques says
Welcome back. So glad you had a great time with your family. I had a magical Christmas too and an even better new year. My boyfriend proposed to me on New Year’s eve as he wished me *insert happy dance*.
I love this outfit as always, but the real reason for this post is to share in the joy of reading/ listening to Essentionalism. I started reading it at the same time that I found your blog and the two work so well together. My favourite quote from the book is, “If you do not make a choice, someone will make it for you.” That I found to be so powerful.
Have a lovely day,
Tania [girlwithanakita] says
Caroline intrigued me with her snippet quote, but your additional quote sold me on that book. GAH, can’t wait to read it so I can contribute!
Nicole Henriques says
You won’t be disappointed. Would love to hear what your favourite quote is from the book. Have a lovely day.
Nicole!! CONGRATS!!!!! *happy dance right back* xo Caroline
Nicole Henriques says
Thank you, Caroline. Oh and my capsule wardrobe is slowly starting to come together and I am loving it. I will be combining Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter as Cape Town weather can be unpredictable. I am so excited to see my first capsule wardrobe come together.
SO excited for you, Nicole!! :) xo Caroline
Nicole Henriques says
Thank you, Nina
Glad to have you back :-)
Hey Caroline, I see you curled your hair! Does that mean you got the oval shaped curling iron?? Or did you figure out a different way?
Hi Tiffany! I actually ended up just using my tapered curling wand that I already had. Took some practice (still learning) but I’m getting more comfortable with it + the results. :) xo Caroline
I have a beauty question or request as well! I love everything about this look! I have started experimenting with my makeup more and would love to know how your accomplished your eye look.
I also wanted to thank you so much for inspiring me to purge my closets/whole house. Over my Christmas break I have drastically reduced the amount of clothing I own but have discovered “new” outfits along the way. In fact I am wearing one today!! Will be checking out the book as well. Thank you.
This year I chose “intentional” as how I want to approach my year. I want to be intentional in the way I love my husband, in the friendships I build, in the clients I work with, in the ways I take care of our home, etc. Sometimes being intentional in one area may take precedence to another, but I want to be more conscious when that happens versus turning around and suddenly seeing the things I neglected.
HA!! I choose a word every year to focus on and this year it is “intentional” !
Tania [girlwithanakita] says
I did not expect to be intrigued this early in the day!
You are right. My natural inclination is to pick one priority in each category – so now I am just as stumped trying to pick my number one in life.
Also, this is my fave hair-makeup look on you yet. The wavy-hair-don’t-care look is awesome with the eyeliner :)
It’s nice to see you back and refreshed!
Thanks Tania! You’ll love the book. I’m thinking several posts in January will reference back to Essentialism. It’s rocking my world. :) xo Caroline
Happy new year! Glad you enjoyed your break and excited to have you back! :) I love your outfits featuring a graphic tee, but I can never seem to find “cool/cute” ones like yours! Any tips? I usually only come across cheesey ones (could be my price point, I suppose? Ha). Looking forward to your blog in 2015!!
I usually go to either Madewell, J.Crew, or Piperlime for graphic tees. I found this one on massive clearance at J.Crew + I had a reward certificate to put towards it, so I actually got it for free — crazy! xo Caroline
My priority (singular) is to be ever-mindful as I set the tone for my family each day. (After all, I do this anyway whether its intentional or not.) And the tone will be a happy one – safe and peaceful, and even on the worst days, content.
Hi Sonja! Your words — “After all, I do this anyway whether it’s intentional or not.” — really got me. It’s so true, and it reminds me that if we don’t set the tone for the day, something else will. Thanks for sharing! xo Caroline
Your musings about Priority make me think of the one word method of New Year’s Resolutioning. This is my third year, and I love it! This year my word is “quiet.” http://oneword365.com/
Yay, I’m so glad you’re back! Last week was a struggle for me with all the post-Christmas sales, and I’ve come to find solace in this little UnFancy community. So glad you had a great vacation!
I’ll definitely be checking out the book, it sounds like so many ideas I’ve had running through my head lately. I used a post from Into Mind to discover that what I really want in my life this year is BALANCE — I work full-time at a mental health facility, am a full-time graduate student, and am trying to create a solid friend/support base for myself in the town I live in. For me, balance means knowing my own boundaries with school and work, and really prioritizing myself, my life, and the people around me I care about — it will challenge my perfectionism A LOT, but I’m ready to challenge that and make some changes :)
Awesome jacket! Love to have you back and blogging, and excited to see what 2015 will bring.
I love the outfit but more important, I absolutely love the quote. It’s so true and I had never thought of it that way. If I had to choose one priority now, I couldn’t. Good luck on finding your focus ahah. Happy new year x
Glad to have you back, Caroline! :)
I picked a word for me to focus on this year. It is one simple word for me to remember and reflect in ALL areas of my life. I like this concept because I only have one thing to focus on, but it applies to everything that I do. Possibly this approach will work for you as well?
Oh, and my word is “calm”
Ooh I’m digging that approach, Audrey. Love your word for the year! :) xo Caroline
Happy Newy Year Caroline and all!
So glad you are back, we never know what your post will include and this one certainly has some food for thought! I will be looking into the book and ideas. I, like others, were tempted with the sales but with my new found conviction and plan I just got 2 much needed cardigans.
Happy New Year Caroline!
First-time commenter but long-time follower of your blog. I’m really digging your approach to fashion, the capsule wardrobe, and your awesome looks of course. Yours and Anuschka’s blog (into-mind.com) are my faves! :)
Also what drove me to comment was your bit about Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism”. I’m reading that book right now (got it for Christmas), and you’re right, it’s totally appropriate for the New Year. I like that bit about priorities — honestly I’m still stumped on what my one priority is — but another concept from the book that stood out to me is about trade-offs. How we can avoid the reality of trade-offs but we can’t really avoid them. I think this goes hand in hand with picking a priority. It’s going to be so difficult to drop other things that are seemingly important, but like Greg McKeown posited, “instead of doing it all, what can I go big on?”
I hope I didn’t ramble much — I just really loved this book and I’m glad you recommended it to your readers! And of course, I wish you another great year for Unfancy! :)
Hi Joy! That part really stood out to me too! I’m so glad he was real about trade-offs. I feel like I now have permission to let go of “good” things to make room for even better things. It’s tough, but awesome. So glad you love the book too, and thanks for sharing your thoughts! :) xo Caroline
Thank you so much for the book recommendation! Last night I was sharing some of my resolutions for the new year with our home group from church. The word for me is Intention. I love that Priority plays in to intentional living. I need to get on that book right away. I think the two are linked.
Love the look today – super cute and comfy yet totally street chic!
Wow, what a powerful thought – what ONE goal would I work on? It’s not an easy answer, but I think my life pretty much revolves around finding gratitude in any and all situations – not sure this is a goal, per se, but it’s the overarching theme of my life and makes getting through the tough times easier. This reminds me a lot of the 365 One Word games I play, each year my friends and I (and probably a million other people…) choose ONE single word to define our year. It’s interesting to see what people choose and how those choices shape their year – this year mine is focus and so that, I guess, is my goal. To focus on each moment and give each person, activity, thing, etc. my singular focus to fully absorb the goodness in the moment. It’s akin to mindfulness and presence, but I like the idea of a laser focus and giving my all to only one thing at a time. I’m throwing multi-tasking right out the window!
hello! essentialism sounds like a good read and i am looking forward to getting it from our library. it sounds like a different approach to minimalism, and i love that topic! :) like some of your other readers, the one priority reminds me of the one word approach to the new year. i’ve chosen health- which may be somewhat cheating in that it will be all encompassing of those many categories i want to work on…my relationship with God (which would be my one priority, bc it effects all others), eating, exercise, relationships, waste and material possessions.
Jess Latour says
I’m loving your blog and am so inspired by your minimalism. I have always been someone who has SO many things in her closet but never has anything to wear and I am tired of it, so I feel very inspired by the capsule wardrobe. I’m going to try it out! :)
I’m about to spend 4 days in Paris/Venice. Could you do a travel/packing guide for a Chilly euro-trip?
Lana Lou says
Whoa. Priority. That is such an interesting bit of information. It’s got me thinking as well. For me my priority would have to be my health. Last year was a bit of trainwreck. It was one of those where the universe beats you up, then backs over you with their car. I wallowed a lot and because of that my health has fallen apart as in, if ANY person within a 50 mile radius has germs, I will have them by the end of the day. So for me, this year, my health is numero uno. The only priority. Everything else can take a backseat.
Love your blog!
Rockin’ the new haircut! I have a photo of it pinned to take to Bird’s, and this was a great reminder to actually go for it :)
Natalie Melchiorre says
Isn’t it interesting that when we limit ourselves to choosing just one priority in our lives, that it’s likely to be a “being” priority? What we do, or what comes from doing isn’t as important.
I had such a fun time reading through everyone else’s priorities: happy, intentional, mindful, balance, calm…mine is brave.
Enjoy the process of setting your priority, and happy new year!
Laina Turner says
My goal in doing goals this year was not to have a million of them and instead have realistic ones. I too thought if I just made a couple goals in each area of my life it would be easier. But that’s STILL a LOT of goals. If I had to pick just one…..yeah…have to get back to you on that:)
Oh, LOVE the singular form! That is food for thought and it hit home for me!
My target this year is my overall health.
2014 was filled with sickness, stress and I forgot myself in the whole mess.
So this year, I will focus on doing things that are good for me. Food, running, say no (!!) to stuff, spend quality time with my family, do what I love and make the choices that I actually want and not what is expected of me.
It’s gonna be challenging, but it’s time.
That sounds like a great book! If I had to choose one priority, it would always be “to glorify Christ.” This article explains it much better than I ever could!
P.S. Glad you’re back! :)
Oh man, I love that quote. Along those lines, I made a bunch of resolutions spanning finances, spirituality, health, time, etc., but then I ended up adding one “big kahuna” resolution that is really important to me this year: NO MORE GUILT. Ever since I got married, I’ve had this weird guilt problem, where I’m constantly feeling guilty for doing/not doing things, whether they’re for work, friends, family, or even for myself! I am so sick of feeling guilty; what a waste of time and energy! So, this year, I’m resolving to kick the guilt. I will either do it, or not do it, but then I’m going to stand by my decision and just let go of the worry and second-guessing. Those emotions aren’t doing anyone any favors. I’m okay with being a bit flexible on the other resolutions, but I’m going to be a total hardass on this one! Wish me luck :)
P.S. I’m so excited to see that you’re working with Camille Styles! I’m an editor over there, and was so psyched to see you in their newsletter today :D Welcome to the CS fam!
Hi Tara! Wow I love this, because I do that too. I remember reading an article that named it “a colossal waste of emotional energy” and that tough love really stuck in my head. I want to use my energy for good + not waste it — I know you feel the same way. Good luck, girl! And SO excited to hear you work with Camille — I’m crazy excited + honored to get to collaborate! xo Caroline
Bangs are so much fun! I’m loving the european look today, especially your hair. Love the soft waves.
missed you! so glad you are back in action.
question: what are you going to do when those black jeans WEAR OUT from wearing them so much?!?! I noticed you wore them A LOT in fall & don’t seem to be slowing down in winter. just curious ;)
my target for 2015 is SIMPLIFY. too much clutter, too much stuff, too much too much too much & it’s making me crazy. it’s all going out the door in my quest for minimalism.
now how can i get my husband on board?!?!
So far, they’ve held up great even though I wear them constantly. If I wash them I just wash them inside out … but I pretty much avoid washing them at all costs. I spot clean if I need to, but for the most part, I just don’t wash them unless it’s necessary. Embarrassing? Maybe. :)
Also! My husband started working on his first ever capsule this year, so I’m thinking some husband posts are in order soon. :)
Kathy Mader says
I know, we can only manage so much well, right? Too much drives me crazy, too, and I’m really finally ready to do something drastic about it…you just get to that breaking point.
Yay!! Youre back! *happy sigh* Christmas and New Years were awesome!! I have finally gotten my FIRST capsule underway and I believe there is no exaggeration involved in saying it has CHANGED MY LIFE. I love every single bit of it and it was well worth the process!
But, I too, have eagerly ventured into the idea of minimalism in other areas of my life and am excited to add your book suggestion to my library! I found Joshua Becker’s blog http://www.becomingminimalist.com/becoming-minimalist-start-here/ and have already read his book…I love the idea of realistic minimalism and my new husband <3 and I have totally decided to take this approach as we join our lives together!
Your suggestions in this area are more than welcomed! Thanks!
So happy for you Brittany! I totally relate to that feeling. :) I haven’t read Josh’s book yet — I’ll have to check it out! xo Caroline
My word for this year is “consistent”. I know exactly what I need to do, but I can have a haphazard approach – this year’s challenge is to stick with things that work and be consistent.
I’m loving the look! Happy New Year by the way :)
My priority: Getting to heaven and bringing as many folks along with me as I can. I’m set on doing this by being the best version of myself I can possibly be.
A reversible bag is a great idea for a capsule wardrobe!
Very interesting about the word “priority” … will give that some more thought!
My word would be “creativity” for sure! I think that could work in all areas of life as well. :)
Thank you so much for the book referral, I’m definitely going to pick it up after reading that quote!
I’m looking for a great pair of black jeans that will last a long time without fading in the wash. Do you find that your Gap jeans hold up well (are they as dark as when you purchased them?)
Hi Tory! So far, my Gap jeans have held up great. They had fading when I bought them, and I think they’re a little bit lighter now, but not much. It’s kind of embarrassing how little I wash these though. Maybe 6 times since I bought them. And I always wash them inside out. Hopefully this helps! :) xo Caroline
Denim is good to go a while between washes. CNN (this article: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/29/living/how-often-should-i-wash-everything/) says you should wash inside out every 3 to 4 times, spot cleaning if needed any between. I’ve also seen research article (couldn’t find it) where they tested how much bacteria actually sticks to denim (i.e. how long can you really go between washes) and surprisingly very little sticks – so you can go longer!
Cheers to less laundry! ;)
Laura Rugadza says
Its so great to have you back… I have been counting down till this day. I look forward to my nights and seeing your uploads! Love this outfit however weren’t you cold ? In the UK we are reaching minus temperatures at night so I couldn’t even dream of wearing something like this probably till March/April but am guessing its not that cold in Texas?. By the way I love the reversible tote, very handy!! Happy new year and look forward to more posts
Thanks Laura! :) It’s definitely not as cold here in Texas. We’ve been hovering in the 30s – 40s lately. xo Caroline
Ashley H says
Welcome back Caroline! I missed your posts so much, and kept checking back before today just in case you couldn’t stay away. :)
I also got inspired to do a capsule wardrobe and blog about it, and it was so rewarding. I love it so far (even though it’s early). Thanks for this ingenious idea and the gorgeous outfits and for being an awesome blogger!
Wow! That’s got me! At first I was thinking positive thinking or fitness but my prioritY is going to be to enjoy nature.
That could mean snowshoeing or walking, photographing or sitting at a window…and it will prob make me happy and fitter as a byproduct. You rock.
Oooh or painting or writing about nature. This is wisdom dynamite.
I never knew that about priorities.
It is truly difficult to choose one though. Yet it makes so much sense to have just one as oppose to many.
I tend to compartmentalise my life, so choosing one overarching priority may be hard. But if I’m able to look on my life as a whole, i think it would be “happiness”. Doing what makes me smile.
Running White Horses
I suppose I choose one priority instead of a resolution every year. 2015 is the year of inputs: I’ve been stalled creatively for a while so I’m removing pressure to create (output) and focusing on taking in all life has for me this year (input) reflecting on it, and noticing what keeps coming up and where that is taking me (you could phrase this idea twenty other ways but this way works for me). It’s a pretty sweeping and broad “priority” on its face but I have a pretty clear vision of what it looks like in my mind, and it keeps me focused on activities and projects that support that picture.
Ellen Faith says
Oh, wow. What a tough question! I think maybe it might be my wellbeing, which can encompass my health both mentally and physically. Since there are a lot of factors that go into that I think it’d cover a lot of bases so you don’t need priorities. But whoa, what a loaded question for my morning, haha!
I’m not sure what I would pick… My priority is to love if I have to choose one thing…
Thank for sharing your journey with us all. I spent the time between Christmas and New Year decluttering my room and wardrobe, lots of stuff out the door to new homes! I can’t manage a single capsule because my summer (I’m in Aussie) work (very corporate) and casual (beach, kids, downtime) requirements are so different. So, thanks to you, I have two summer capsules with very different colour palettes and all my winter stuff is tucked under the bed. Thanks for your inspiration and all the best for the journey.
Kaileen Elise says
Love the look! Checking out the book recommendation. And I never thought I would reverse my tote, but maybe I will go for it. You inspired me!!
A friend of mine told me she picks one word for the year. I thought that might be too broad at first, but I actually really liked it! Last year I picked “adventure” …I’ve always been a worrier and I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. It was amazing how many areas of my life I could apply that too, and it really gave me a good focus for the year. I think the simplicity really helped.
Yay! You’re back. What a great birthday present for me, thanks! Haha
Thank you for this post! After reading it, I spent some time thinking about my priority for the year. It’s definitely responsibility. While this one word is very broad, I love how it can be applied to every area of my life!
So glad to see you back! Hope your holidays were great! I absolutely love the book quote, don’t think I saw the book on Kindle though :(
I’m still thinking about my one thing, since I feel I have many, but I sent an email to myself back in 2012 with a quote by Ellen Goodman I found that gets me every time I read it, such an eye-opener, maybe you’ll like it :
“NORMAL is getting dressed in CLOTHES that you buy for work,
and driving through traffic in a CAR that you are still paying for…
in order to get to the JOB you need,
to pay for the CLOTHES and the CAR ….
And the HOUSE you leave vacant all day, so you can afford to live in it.”
I knew I had to pursue a minimalist approach to life after this and it’s been a journey so I’m very glad to have found you on IG. My winter capsule didn’t work very well (Florida weather is moody) but maybe spring and summer will be awesome! :) Happy New Year!
Love your style! Would you share your hair routine? Like how you curl it, for starters. It always looks fab! Thanks for your great blog!
Thanks for the book recommendation! I just got the Art of Possibility and am excited about it. My husband was surprised when I said I heard about it on a fashion blog :)
Something I’ve done for two years in a row was choose a guiding word for the year. Last year was “renew.” This year will be “focus.” Time to stop trying to be and do everything and focus on what’s most important. Sounds like Essentialism is right up my ally. :)
Hi Annie! I’m so excited that you got The Art of Possibility! Let me know how you like it. :) xo Caroline
I think the shift from priority to priorities has something to do with us always wanting more… But at least as much with with our change in lifestyle. 200 years ago going to a nearby city was still considered traveling, you had maybe two nice dresses, probably only intended as church-wear, access to schools or career options were limited, etc. There wasn’t even any internet! We started making priorities because suddenly our lives knew so many different aspects! We had jobs, homes, free time + the means to spend that time however we want it,… So in that sense I am very grateful I get to set a couple of priorities, instead of only one. Even in the comments, -the priority- people have mentioned is usually a word or an idea that spans all areas of their life, instead of one concrete priority (mine would be something like “focus on things that will make you happy in the long run / live with more intention = quite vague). I’m not even sure if the priority concept is applicable in our lives the way it used to be.
Really interesting thoughts here, Nina — I’m glad you shared. :) xo Caroline
Interesting idea, it made me realize that I’ve actually done the one priority-thing for the last two years and reflecting back it did absolutely not work for me. What I did was to chose a word to live by in stead of a new years resolution (or multiple resolutions). Just a couple of days ago did I realize that I chose a word each year that would improve myself at my job. In a way that is a fine idea, but it also made my single priority -even the whole year- about my job!!
I’m overworked, always tired and have lost the passion for what I do and my hobbies. So, trying to find my way back I have divided my priority into multiple and chosen 3 words, one for work, one for my relationship with other people and one for my relationship with myself. I’m all for the simpler/minimalist lifestyle, but I don’t think we can have one priority in life, I think we need more
Happy New Year! I love your posts and you really helped me to see my wardrobe in a different perspective. That’s something I want to deepen more in the coming year. I think, if I had to pick a priority for this year, it would be happiness. Health is essential and an overall necessity, but I’d like to feel happy with myself, with the people around me and with life in general this coming year! So I’ll try and work towards this in every aspect of my life.
Thanks for the book recommendation Caroline. I have just started reading ‘The Art of Possibility’ which you mentioned previously, and am finding it very inspiring.
In relation to the idea of the one priority, i thought of the book ‘the three marriages’ by David Whyte, which talks about the three core relationships/areas of our life as being the relationship with work, with our self, and with others. He talks about how they all influence each other and how we can’t really ever ‘balance’ them but need to be open about recognising how they influence each other and how focusing on one affects the others…
Lovelle Budiman says
You got me hooked on the “Essentialism” book! Enjoying it so far!
Have you heard of the book “Do Over” by Jon Acuff? It’s a really interesting read as well and ties into this minimalist lifestyle.
My Blog says
This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have
found something that helped me. Thank you!