12 In Women Now

Emerging Style: So this is how I’ve spent my time during the COVID lockdown

Hello, hello, hello! I’ve had nearly a month’s worth of Josie’s since I popped up here last. That iced coffee drink I wrote about last is still my afternoon favorite. The recipe is right here. So that hasn’t changed.

What has changed is I’ve been in this immersion program focused on emerging style for women primarily 60 and above. It was practically like a movie how I got inspired to create a 5-week online course all about personal style. There was a wonderful supporting cast to help me launch The Emerging You: Define or Refine Your Unique Style Recipe course.

That’s a story I’m eager to share next week. One of the main characters is a doggy shirt. Okay, here’s a peek of the shirt.

That shirt became the symbol of possibility. It represented the little engine that could. Remember that children’s story? I’ll fill you in.

Designing the course in April

The idea for this particular course sprouted in March. April was devoted to developing the course. Wow, there are so many moving parts! I put each piece that I could think of–mini-projects within the major project–on separate index cards and taped it to the side of my bookshelf.

No wonder if felt daunting. It was! This little engine wasn’t sure she could do it at all. Especially during COVID. Of course, I wouldn’t have had the time to create a course if it wasn’t for the stay-at-home orders. But my brain wasn’t reliably full of zip and emotions weighed me down a fair amount. Fear, anxiety, trepidation. You know the ones, right?

Bit by bit those notecards were pulled off the bookshelf and the only thing left to do was press “schedule” on the email that would announce the course.

The night before registration was to open I was preparing my office with rituals and prayers. I was ready, really ready. I prayed that there would be other people out there who would enjoy this subject of emerging style as much as I did. I had no idea if it would be up anyone’s alley. It felt good going to bed that night feeling like I’d done my best and whatever would be would be.

From “I wonder if anyone will sign up” to a sold-out class in hours

That Let Go and Let God approach cured my jitters. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened in the morning. The email went out at 6 a.m. and the class was full by 10 a.m. I wanted to keep the class size to around 30 to invite participation.

There were some disappointed people who didn’t get in so I made a decision to open a Wednesday class to run the same weeks. It filled up in two hours.

“I’m not surprised,” said Russ. My accountability buddy Carrie said the same thing. So did my associates from Boston and Melbourne, Ginger, and Suzanne. We are each other’s board of directors.

My accountability buddy, Carrie
With my Board of Directors, Ginger, and Suzanne, in February in Sonoma

It’s painful to reveal my self-doubt to my trusted colleagues. With Russ, it’s easy. All I have to say is, “I’m Brenda Kinsel, remember?” That makes him instantly less surprised. It’s my normal.

I’ve lived most of my life with self-doubt. I don’t see it as something I can overcome. It walks alongside of me, mostly staying out of my way. It helps that the person I live with understands and accepts that about me. I don’t have to explain it anymore. “Oh, that’s right,” he says. And we move on to plans for dinner.

Confidence and self-doubt can live in the same person

I’m confident about a lot of things but I’m living proof that you can be confident and have self-doubt at the very same time. It was a pleasure to hear the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, say that very same thing in one of her podcast episodes sometime in the last many weeks. I get it, Gretchen. I totally get it!

Meeting the most wonderful people and watching their style emerge

Before we launched into the course I had an opening cocktail hour the night before so we could meet each other and learn where we were from and what brought us to the class. Here’s a pic of me from my office at the opening reception.

It was so exciting to meet everyone and get to know them over the course of five weeks. It was tender and terrific.

We finished up this premiere course last week. A community was built with these lovely ladies from all over the country and outside the country: Canada, France, Berlin, and Stockholm. It was hard to say goodbye. I’ll take a break and focus on some family projects and then offer it again to a new group of women. I have no more self-doubt that this is a subject that resonates.

Where we were when class began in May and where we are now

When we started the class, we were facing the pandemic. We finished the class last week amidst protests in hundreds of cities over the horrific death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Despair deepened.

My heart was heavy and words couldn’t find their way out of my mouth. A student in Wednesday’s Emerging You class wrote me an email about her style words and then got off-subject, as she put it, and addressed the most current of affairs. One thing she said was, “I have to believe we will emerge stronger from this as communities, cities, states, and as a nation. It will take time.” She wished for leadership to help our heavy hearts as we “move along the road with a chance once again to acknowledge our problems and activate change together.”

I wish for that time of emerging stronger, acknowledging our problems, and activating change together. The way she said it, I could see it happening. I had hope.

The gift of a style story

I received so many gifts from the ladies in the classes. Their turned in homework assignments provided so much of the learning. It was a joy to watch them helping each other create their unique style recipe.

This is a collage I made the day before I announced the class. I had it up in my office next to my laptop where we joined each other on Zoom. The variety of butterflies and bugs, the feathers and the shells, reminded me of how unique everyone is. I attached the quote I found by Marjorie Hinckley that says, “There isn’t a person you wouldn’t love if you could read their story.”

I included this image in every PowerPoint slide presentation. I took the quote in a slightly different direction. I told them at the beginning that I believed there isn’t a person they wouldn’t love if they could hear their style story. It may have sounded like hocus pocus in week one but by week five, they were believers. As we witnessed those emerging style stories coming to life week by week, it was evident: One’s style story is a story of love.

I’ve missed you! What’s been on your precious mind? Do share!


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  • Reply
    Janet Flink
    June 11, 2020 at 5:53 am

    Brenda – thank you for sharing your backstory. The image of a confident and graceful swan who is secretly paddling like mad below the surface comes to mind. You were so poised and together and lead us all on a wonderful journey of discovery! I loved the class, and have gained new confidence in what I wear, armed with my style words. I hope an advanced class is in the works. “Reunion Zoom” would be fun too. Thank you!!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2020 at 6:05 am

    Glad to see you back, Brenda. I look forward to hearing about the course and hope you will continue with them in the future. I’ve missed your honest and thoughtful content. And have been drinking Josephines while working from home!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2020 at 7:39 am

    Sign me up for the next time you offer the course! It sounds wonderful.

    • Reply
      June 11, 2020 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Judy, do me a favor and email me your email address. Put “Add me to your VIP list” in the subject line and I’ll put you on the list ASAP!

  • Reply
    June 11, 2020 at 8:33 am

    When I read your posts, I always feel so inspired. I wish we were next door neighbors and could share coffee drinks! Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Reply
      June 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm

      Wouldn’t that be fun!!

  • Reply
    Mary Peterson
    June 11, 2020 at 8:43 am

    I love everything about this post, Brenda – Including your mask!
    If it was purchased from a source that you can share, please do! 🙂
    Be safe & well!

    • Reply
      June 11, 2020 at 1:49 pm

      My lovely sister-in-law made it for me. It’s my favorite!

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    June 11, 2020 at 10:38 am

    Missed you too, Brenda! Learning to “Let go and let God” has been such an important lesson in my life. I totally understand the reality of being confident and yet having self-doubt. That is me to a tee! It was particularly prevalent during my teaching days. For most of my career, I taught part time in a very small school where my assignment changed almost every year. I was constantly learning new courses which added to the self-doubt because I was never able to stick with one thing long enough to develop expertise. Consequently, though I was confident that I was a good teacher, I always felt that I was about to be exposed as a fraud, as one who didn’t know what she was doing. It wasn’t until after I retired that I learned that there’s actually a name for that. It’s called Imposter Syndrome. Thankfully, I have a hubby like yours who understands me and is one of my greatest fans and confidence boosters.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2020 at 1:03 pm


  • Reply
    June 11, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Hi, Brenda – This must be an awesome course you created with your whimsical story-telling talent. Your creative soul is inspiring to all. What better way to be inspired to find one’s personal style! – Angie, http://www.yourtrueselfblog.com

  • Reply
    June 11, 2020 at 7:08 pm

    Brenda, the course sounds so wonderful. I love your latest style evolution! I hope I can join a future course, it would be a dream come true for me.
    As a healthcare provider in our current COVID environment, I feel I’ve lost my style and my identity with having to be masked, covered with a labcoat, and wearing scrubs all the time now. I miss my clothes and makeup!
    Thank you for your post. It gives me hope and motivation to dress for the weekend.

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