15 In Anatomy of an Outfit/ Getting Dressed/ Women Now

COVID Coping Skills Could Include Clothing Choices

How’s your lockdown going? I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had this much quality time with myself ever. How many weeks have we sheltered at home here in the Bay Area? Oh right: Six. Full. Weeks.

And only about six more before we slowly enter into the modification period.

I’m not complaining. (Am I? Could I?) Whatever Dr. Anthony Fauci says, I’m on board. While my higher self sticks to the rules, my lower self wonders, occasionally, whether I have it in me to keep on keeping on like this.

Then comes the reality check

COVID coping skills wearing masks
Wearing masks and social distancing with my twin brother, Brent

When I watch the news and see the faces of medical staff on the frontlines, I don’t even have to think about it. I’ll do everything I can to stay out of their way: staying home, social distancing, wearing masks when I have to go out. Handwashing frequently and using my elbows.

***A deep, immeasurable thank you to all medical teams on the front lines, confronting the coronavirus face-to-face. I pray for your safety and well-being and your families, too.***

Let’s review: Isolating felt a little like being on a staycation

The staycation phase of mandatory isolation ended about four weeks ago. That first two-week period was met with TV bingeing, catching up on movies, staying up late, and eating a lot of saltine crackers.

Next came the decluttering and beautifying stage. There were places in the house that needed my attention way before COVID. With isolation, they became glaring eyesores.

I’ve known for months that the reading chair area of the bedroom needed some beautification. By removing some decorative storage boxes surrounding the oversized reading chair, that area became open and calm. I added artful objects to the wall above the standing reading lamp and cleared books off the nearby copper table made by my friend Carl. Now it’s a serene and pleasant place to sit and read and be.

A couple of Sundays ago I tackled the shelving unit on my side of the garage. I realized the baskets of electrical cords and light bulbs were better stored in unused drawers in Russ’ workbench. I made labels for the drawers, so we’d find what we were looking for with ease. Now there’s empty space on the shelves.

Bringing Zen to the closet
Bringing Zen to my client’s closet

I LOVE empty space! It feels luxurious when things aren’t crammed together. It’s sort of like how I don’t like the hangers in my closet to touch each other. Ah! A moment of Zen.

Next: Facing my reluctance to face Mondays

I decided to tackle something else I’ve been curious about: Why do I wake up Monday morning feeling dread or high anxiety? It lasts just a few minutes but, uff da, it’s odd. After all, I’m a morning person. It’s my favorite time of the day. And I love, love, love my work with clients. So why do I have those short minutes of panic?

I could blame COVID-19 on my early Monday blue moments. Maybe I’m anxious about facing another week of a pandemic.

But if I’m being honest, I wake up on Mondays feeling this way a fair amount of time. I have good intentions of using Friday to get ahead on writing projects, but that goes awry and those mostly non-urgent writing projects often don’t get done. I want them to be done, but I can’t always do them on command.

The truth is, a big part of writing is blanking out, giving the brain a rest, staring out the window, going for walks, being quiet, and away from the keyboard.

I’m expecting a lot from Fridays–being lazy and productive at the same time. I feel the residue of that conflict when I wake up on Monday morning with Friday’s To-Do list on my mind.

Doing what I can to start the week on a softer note

While in isolation I’ve had plenty of time to ponder this situation. There’s probably more pondering to do but in the meantime, I decided to help myself in kind ways.

My writing table receives garden roses

The roses are in bloom. On that Sunday afternoon, I asked Russ to cut some roses from the garden. They always look better when he cuts and arranges them. Soon there were red, yellow, white, and peach roses in a clear vase on my writing table. They were so smiley looking. Hopeful and dear.

Maybe a new outfit would ease the COVID Monday blues

Next, I headed to the closet and pulled together an outfit to wear Monday morning. My intuition told me to.

It seemed a bit weird to me because I never pick out an outfit the night before wearing it. When it comes to getting dressed, I wing it. It’s a creative act.

On Sunday I knew wanted to wear my dad’s tie on Monday. I’ve been thinking about him a lot. But I needed more than a tie! I zeroed in on my light gray J.Crew Tippi sweater, a nice plain background so the geometric design in the tie would stand out.

Next, I tossed on my COS cotton black and white print collared shirt as a jacket. I liked the pattern mix. It gave the black and white outfit some energy. This outfit would be a fun play on menswear attire.

I’d wear my Vince black trousers which are a little more slouchy fitting than usual. I’ve lost a couple of pounds even while consuming childhood comfort snacks like animal crackers.

No sneakers for this outfit. I’d wear my Rosa Mosa oxfords with white laces. I had my Monday plan in place.

How did my COVID coping skills hold up on Monday morning?

Monday morning arrived and I felt, well, neutral.

Not great, but not too anxious. Could it be that my Sunday night self-care paid off?

I made my coffee and headed to my writing table where I was greeted by Russ’ roses. I looked out the window, pulled out my Morning Pages notebook, and started my therapy writing practice.

I paid attention to the rest of the day. It was a decent day. I felt positive. I wasn’t hyperventilating with joy, but I felt plenty darn good.

Pearl earrings add a feminine touch
Cascading pearl earrings balance out the menswear look

Another Monday is put to the test

One more Monday has arrived since wearing that black, white, and gray outfit with my dad’s tie. This Monday I awoke with a few minutes of that panic feeling again. Not as strong as usual, but it hadn’t miraculously disappeared.

I’m confused about Mondays and other days of the week, too! I probably have more time to stare out the window and feed my writing self, but at the same time, I miss my one-on-one client time.

The problem of balance isn’t a new one. I know I have to sort out Fridays and my expectations of them. I need to find a balance between writing projects, time to work on new ideas, and time being out in the world creatively interacting with clients. I want it all!

What I decided to do this Monday was to go easy on myself. And that felt good.

Is it possible to rearrange one’s thinking like rearranging a seating area in the bedroom?

So during this isolation, I’m wondering if it’s possible to end the week on Friday with the feeling that it’s enough. I’ve done enough. I didn’t finish everything and I never will, and it’s okay. Could that be a new reality? A skill I learn during COVID? I will ponder this balance thing that’s been on my plate most of my life, but I won’t solve it today. I’m good with that.

I’d love your thoughts. Plus, you could really help me out. What are you doing to be kind to yourself during this time? I’ll be here taking notes. Do share! And stay safe, my friends.

I’m blowing you a kiss from Sonoma!


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  • Reply
    April 30, 2020 at 6:05 am

    Love your blog! Enjoying reading it while sipping my coffee on a rainy morning here in NC. Appreciate so much your ability to share your insights, especially now as we find ourselves in this unprecedented situation for our time.

    Gardening has been my go-to stay-at-home activity. My flower gardens have never looked better and sharing the photos with friends and family is a way to share my joy.

    Bless you and your loved ones! Stay safe and well!


  • Reply
    April 30, 2020 at 6:34 am

    Good morning, Brenda. The outfit you created with your father’s tie to celebrate his memory is beautiful. I always enjoy how you often have a little something unexpected in your outfits. You are right to end you week content with what you did accomplish. It may take a while to change the way you look at this issue but be sure to give yourself as much grace as you do to others. Lastly, living in the wilderness that is Wyoming, we weren’t affected by the COVID lockdown to the degree that most of the country has experienced so it hasn’t really been a struggle. But I was so happy when my hair stylist called to say they are allowed to open up again and to set up my appointment!

  • Reply
    Susan Blakey
    April 30, 2020 at 8:35 am

    Love the outfit and I recognize that shirt! 😉 It’s funny, but I get the same way around Sunday afternoon. I think it’s a vestigial mental habit of “oh damn, tomorrow it’s back to the grind…” even though I’ve worked from home for years and love what I’m doing now. We have a good opportunity now to examine old (outdated?) thinking and find ways to support ourselves.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2020 at 8:36 am

    I love the idea of wearing your father’s tie! It just adds so much interest to your outfit and the sentimental sweet memories it must bring are so special! Thanks for all the lovely outfits you bring to us with their special touches. They give so many of us something to look forward too even more during these strange times!

  • Reply
    April 30, 2020 at 8:44 am

    I live in Oregon and am such a social person, and a widow so this has been somewhat of a challenge for me. I am also a card maker, so making a lot of cards for essential workers, family and friends has kept me pretty busy. I also face time friends and have a virtual happy hour. One friend drives to my home and pulls up in the driveway and I sit in a lawn chair 6 feet away. We just enjoy visiting and it’s good to see her. I really find that it’s not productive to worry about what I don’t get done during the week. It will be there come Monday and since I don’t have a time frame for getting it done, it’s all good.
    As far as style goes, I get fully dressed every day, usually in jeans and shirt. Since I never wear shoes in the house, I either run around barefoot or in slippers.
    I love your style and wearing your Dad’s tie looks really good. Take care of yourself and keep up your great blog.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2020 at 9:37 am

    I have found I have a calm that has come over me…….NO rushing to drink that coffee so I can go “POTTY” and then feed the chickens and out the door to PILATES!I CAN SIP…….I CAN MEANDER DOWN THE GARDEN PATH TO FEED THE CHICKENS and I can DO AS I PLEASE which is NOT A GOOD THING EVERY DAY!I have found making a LIST of what I want to do the next day HELPS ME CONCENTRATE!
    I tend to wake up with the thought of WHATS FOR DINNER……….so I start at the end of the day and work backwards in a way!
    WE are at the end of week SEVEN HERE!

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    April 30, 2020 at 9:51 am

    As retirees, hubby and I are finding this time of sheltering at home easier than many. We don’t have a business to worry about, jobs to lose, or children at home. We also have well established routines at home that, for the most part, we’ve been able to maintain. The coming of spring (though very late here in Canada this year) has made things easier. There’s yard work to do now that the snow is gone and we’re getting out for a walk almost every day. We’re seeing more people out walking than ever before and everyone greets each other so cheerfully. I think we’re all just so happy to interact with someone else even if it’s just for a few moments in passing! Last evening, we had the first fire of the season in our backyard fire pit and invited the couple from next door to join us. Out in the yard, it was easy to social distance and yet enjoy time with one another.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    I have had the same feeling of pressure and angst since COVID restrictions began. I was feeling stress over doing my spring gardening and it helped to visualize the entire task and predict how long it would take (36 hours). I finished in 35 hours in a four week period and found it helped to break up the chore into segments that seemed attainable each day__easy on the knees, too. I love gardening and this made it much more fun. Adjusting to new limits with our stay-home policy was making me anxious but I have taken it as a challenge to adjust and am enjoying each day even though I don’t go shopping and hob non with others. We will get through this. And each day will be a good one.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Brenda,
    I like that you wore your dad’s tie because you had been thinking about him! I do the same thing with some of my mom’s jewelry. I have a few hats that were my dad’s, I wonder if I could pull off wearing one?
    During this SIP I’ve been feeling pretty good, considering. I started out organizing and cleaning like a crazy person. That’s slowed down, but I still try to achieve one thing on my to-do list every day. I try to get into my studio to paint everyday, even if just for 15 minutes, which I love. I have my container garden on the deck to tend to now that the sun is out again.
    Sure, I miss being able to come and go freely. I miss going to the movies, and shopping! But I keep thinking about people who have it so much worse: those in apartments without easy access to the outdoors, families with small children that need to be constantly entertained, or might have special needs, families with members who are ill at home or in the hospital. Not to sound Pollyanna-ish, but I feel pretty lucky. My husband has been home for a year now, so I’m pretty used to having him around. My youngest daughter has been living with us as she volunteers for Americorps, but the school where she taught the literacy program is closed. So, she’s home and we try to give each other ample space. Then, we come together and play scrabble, or read in the same room. We take walks, and do yoga, and sometimes we just act really goofy. We have dinner together every night. I do get a little tired of cooking all the time, but considering the alternative (having no food to cook) puts me back in the right head space!
    I hope next Monday you’ll wake up in a happier mood.

    • Reply
      April 30, 2020 at 6:24 pm

      Heidi, I love hearing all about what’s going on and your coping strategies. Everything is so topsy turvy and my few little minutes of anxiousness on a Monday morning are of little consequence. I too feel lucky. This morning I was on a call with girlfriends and it took a different tone. People are feeling the weight of this in different ways. It’s a privilege to be compassionate and listen. Our family and friends mean so much. And about next Monday–it’s all an experiment in living life in a new way, isn’t it? I really appreciate you, thanks.

  • Reply
    April 30, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    Dear Brenda, I really want to thank you for sharing the fact that you feel anxiety. You always seem like such a confident person, and I know you are, but letting us inside to know that even you have doubts is deeply reassuring for the rest of us mere mortals. It is a comfort to know that I/we are not alone in this feeling. I also run a business and work from home, it is stressful and it is constant. I do get my weekends off. I do feel anxious. A lot. As I was chatting to a colleague who also runs her own business and is a total neat and control freak, I had a realisation. What we do is never finished. My in tray will never be empty. Now I realise that, I am trying to be ok with it and take time to think about how to respond to client’s enquiries (I run a property management company with renters and landlords – it is fraught at the moment with so many losing their incomes) and answer their emails the next day instead of having to answer immediately, just so I can tick that off my list. Maybe this moment in time is teaching us that we don’t have to finish everything on the day. I am talking now to the perfectionists. The ones who have to have all the ducks in a row. I need a certain percentage of ducks in a row – for example – my home. It is my sanctuary. It cannot be in disarray. I have routines in place to keep it just so. It provides me with comfort and peace, and I love it. But my business and extra projects? There will always be a never ending supply of things to do, consider, figure out, negotiate and work through. Same with dealing with emotional issues, be it from our past, be it from the grief we are feeling now due to the changed circumstances in our lives and the dreams we won’t see come to fruition this year, or from relationships with family/friends, our emotional in tray will never be empty. Maybe we can’t make peace with all the issues, but maybe we can make peace with the fact that our in tray will always have ‘stuff’ in it, maybe that is the new expectation we should set for ourselves. Love your thoughts, love your writing, love your spirit, thank you for always encouraging us to be our best selves, you set a remarkable example of goodness in our lives.
    With love always, from Brisbane Australia. Xxxxxxx

    • Reply
      April 30, 2020 at 6:20 pm

      Boy, I relate to a lot of what you said. It’s so true: that inbox will never be empty. I was just speaking to friends on a Zoom call this morning and the topic of perfectionism came up. I think that’s a constant for many women. I do believe that lifting expectations about getting things done would be a real win during these weeks of isolating. When I hear someone else talk about this, it seems more clear! Thanks for sharing! xx

  • Reply
    Carolanne Brown
    April 30, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    I have been working from home for seven weeks now. My husband and I live in a rented condo that has three outdoor spaces so I have a number of plants and some common ground to potter with. Zoom has been huge for getting on with work and outfits are only seen from the waist up. I have to admit it has been some time since I have worn makeup and my short cut is growing out. But we are well. Thank you for your creativity. Love to read your posts and blog.

    • Reply
      April 30, 2020 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks, Carolanne. I loved hearing what life looks like for you right now!

  • Reply
    Geralin Thomas
    May 1, 2020 at 8:38 am

    One good thing about mandatory sheltering-in-place is that it has made us all more appreciative of the people who keep our nation healthy, fed, safe and clean.

    And, as usual, your blog posts brighten my days too. You look lovely.

    That lippy your’e wearing is perfect!

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