becoming jolie


Office Tour, 2.0

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 5.49.44 PMI shared a little bit about my office a few months back, but now that it feels officially finished, I felt compelled to share the final product, because I love it so much and it makes me so happy to step into and work every day! (Also, because I wanted to answer your many questions via Instagram about sourcing for my items in one easy place.)
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When we looked at our house during a showing, this room was sort of an outcast. It held the previous owner’s random belongings – a child’s potty, a giant beer keg, random toys, etc. It wasn’t much to look at and felt awkward with the floor plan in terms of usability. The house already has a full dining room, so it didn’t really need another place to eat. Our realtor suggested it as an office, and immediately we were like, YES! Best idea!

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It has a skylight that offers lots of natural light, and there are two entrances (neither with doors) one from the kitchen and one toward the back family room. It’s nice that while I work from home during my kids’ early years, I can be accessible to them if I need to work while still feeling like I have a place of my own.

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We furnished the office mostly with IKEA (surprise, surprise). Even though it’s a relatively small space, I feel really pleased with how well we were able to utilize space through choices like a corner desk and floor to ceiling storage on one side. I think my favorite part is the most recent addition of this peg board. I’d seen a million different organizational peg boards on Pinterest, and it just made sense in a space so small to utilize the wall for storage instead of more furniture on the ground. It helps my packaging and organizational flow so much to have things right in front of my face!

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IKEA: Corner desk, packing table, large white square shelving, white bins inside square shelving, white shelf above computer.

TARGET: Desk chair, stool, gold scissors, clock, gold buckets, “Enjoy Today” frame, “Columbus Ohio” frame, BRIM letters, gold dipped planter (hard to see, but it’s on top of the square shelving, brown filing bins inside square shelving, white baskets hanging on peg board

OVERSTOCK.COM: Aztec area rug

HOME DEPOT: Peg board and accessories



White Like Me, Chapter 5-6


Here’s the thing. This book just hasn’t wowed me, if I’m being honest, and since it hasn’t caught my interest like I thought it would it’s not been the most motivating item on my to do list. Either way, I plan on finishing the task. If you’re interested, here is  the introductionchapter one, and chapter two threeand four.

Nonetheless, I do feel like there have been some important themes in this book that I’ve enjoyed taking in, whether or not it’s how or what I anticipated would be discussed. I sense the same from some of you? I’m going to join chapter 5-6 together this week and talk about what happened and then what caught my eye.

Chapter five is all about Tim post-graduation, once he decides to stay in New Orleans and look for activist work – most of which, in this chapter, centered around the politician David Duke (an ex-klansman) and working to prevent his election. Chapter six moves into Houston, where Tim moves to follow his girlfriend of the time. While in Houston he works on two separate projects: first, helping to serve as an expert on race for a black coach named Jimmy Jackson who was attempting to sue the NFL, as well as his time working as a community organizer and what that taught him.

+ Per usual, I guess what interests me mosts is factual discourse revolving around studies. Not that that needs to be his entire book, but when he very subjectively rants on topics and throws in statements like, “which studies indicate…” while NEVER citing these studies. I cannot tell you my frustration at this! I WANT TO READ THESE STUDIES. Not because I think he is full of crap, but because, that’s where my real interest lies. Not in reading his very personally charged diatribes that I sometimes feel lessen the value of his message overall (life lesson?).

+ I appreciate Tim’s encouragement to whites in order to work toward changing the hearts of other whites. I think it’s really, really easy to get dogmatic and vitriolic with people when you talk about charged topics like race. But what is the real goal? If it’s racial reconciliation and opening the hearts of people to help them become empathetic and understanding, your methods have to be considered. It’s pretty much like any other topic (and a lesson I’m definitely still learning) in the sense that we’ve all got our beliefs that have been fossilized over years – people are not going to change overnight and they certainly aren’t going to change through angry arguments. Noted.

+ I appreciate his time spent giving a solid, fleshed out example of systemic racism that normally would be hard to see, in regard to Jimmy Jackson’s story within the NFL. No it wasn’t straight up bigotry, but the system used to hire coaches was “a hiring criteria that, while facially race-neutral, was guaranteed to produce a racially exclusionary impact on black coaching aspirants,”(162)  he goes on to say, “It was a perfect example of institutional racism, which allows racial disparity to be produced and maintained with or without the deliberate and bigoted intent of those producing the disparity, but merely as the product of normal operating procedures so common to employees. SO often, the way in which qualification requirements are used favor those who have been in the pipeline for the best opportunities previously.” (162)

+ I think the most interesting thing I have read so far was his portion on poor whites in New Orleans when a councilwoman made a proposal that was seemingly a hit to the rich whites in the city. Wise points out that the poorest whites in the town were so quick to jump to defending the rights of rich people who don’t like them, that it was troubling to him. He says, “To the white masses in Duke county, they had more in common with the multi-millionaires along St. Charles Avenue…than with African-Americans struggling for opportunities as much as they were. Racial bonding took priority over class unity, or in this case, common sense.” (166).

I just couldn’t get over this point, and how true I think it is.

+ The last thing I enjoyed reading about was the training Wise received while he was a community organizer. During the training the group was asked to write down what they liked about being their race. Even before I read the rest of the portion, I felt pretty stumped. The only things I could think of were being glad to be in the majority culture and never feeling out of place, or related items. Which is funny, since that was exactly his point.

All of the people of color in the room had meaningful reasons they liked being black, for example. The music, the culture, the camaraderie of families, and the perseverance of their ancestors. The only things that white people in the room could come up with? “None of it had to do with internal qualities of character or fortitude. Rather, every response had to do less with what we liked about being white…than what we liked about not being a person of color.” Not being followed around in a store. Not presumed out of place on a college campus or high ranking job. Not being followed around in stores. Etc.

He went on to describe that when America was growing heavily with European immigrants, to be taken in and acclimated fully into society, you often had to let go of your heritage to embrace the new American “white.” Speak English. Dress like we do. Listen to the music we listen to. Eat our food. So, even though at one point we had cultural traditions and unique qualities, essentially most of our families and ancestors shed those to fit into the “American” mould. Which is funny, since America is a melting pot.

What are your thoughts on chapter 5-6? I want to hear!


Pregnant Whole30: A Recap

So I did another whole30, whipee!

This was my fourth one – although one of those I did not complete fully through – and my first one pregnant. I thought I would take a minute to jot down some thoughts and reflections for myself and anyone else who cares to know what a whole30 is like while pregnant.

First of all, if you don’t know what whole30 is, take a peek here. I’m not some paid advocate of the plan, I just really like it and what it does for me physically and mentally. The short version is: an elimination diet that removes gluten/grains, soy, dairy, alcohol, sugar, peanuts, and soy from your diet for thirty days. A way to clear your system, get rid of food addictions and give you a clearer sense of what, if any, of those things eliminated is bothering your body. To be honest, I’ve never read the whole30 books, just used their website as a resource. People do whole30 for a lot of reasons, and I have many myself. I like to think of it as a reset, but also as a time to slim down, to practice discipline, and to reflect a little on what I’m putting in my body and, more important and more interesting, WHY.

My main purpose this time around was as a reset after a very rough first trimester, filled with pizza, macaroni, grilled cheese, and ice cream. Like, over and over. I was nauseous for months and was purely in survival mode, and by the end, I started to wonder if half of the awful that I was feeling might have been from my horrible diet. (Nonetheless, I still waited until my nausea was 95% gone to start though, because honestly it’s just too trying to focus on a whole30 while no food sounds good.)

Overall, I am proud of what I accomplished. I cooked my butt off, attended a wedding, a birthday party, social gatherings, traveled out of town, and had friends over for dinner (like, dinners I couldn’t eat) while still staying on track. I logged a lot of hours of watching other people eat pizza and ice cream in front of my face while I quietly (and also not quietly) nibbled cashews and a Lacroix. I would definitely recommend a pregnant whole30 to someone, even though my results were different than standard. Doing one while pregnant presented some unique challenges, I noticed:

+ Typically while pregnant, I like to use the pregnancy card to excuse poor eating. “But I’m pregnant…” and “But I’m craving…” and “I need extra calories….” and so, it was hard to not let that mentality sneak in, even while completing the thirty days. I noticed in general that it felt harder to be firm with myself because I constantly wanted to pull the pregnancy card. BUT I’M PREGNANT. I did a LOT of SWYPO – mainly some banana nice cream and chocolate mint lara bars – which I don’t recommend to first timers, but being my fourth time through and being pregnant, I gave myself a pass. Some days I felt ok with that, other days I felt like I should’ve restrained more.

+ The food preparation feels a little more taxing when you are pregnant. Like, you are already kind of tired and not always feeling like yourself, and then you add to that the long hours in the kitchen preparing food and sometimes you are just OVER IT, like more over it than a normal human.

+ The drastic physical results I always notice when I’m not pregnant are much harder to detect while doing a pregnant whole30. For example, I always feel my trimmest and slimmest after I do a whole30, and that’s um, sort of hard to accomplish while you are growing a human. Like, even though I FEEL a difference in my body (less bloated, mostly, and feeling like my arms and face are a little more slim) my before and after picture (below) makes me laugh because I essentially look the same. You can’t really track weight (and shouldn’t be aiming for weight loss) and of course, in the least, your belly is still going to be growing as you are concentrating to eat the best you’ve ever eaten. Other results that normally are present but I think were somewhat hindered by pregnancy – I still have some pregnancy gas, and I still have some pregnancy complexion flare ups (minor) on my face, and I have very little physical results to show for my work. So at times, it can feel like thirty days of hard work looks like it accomplished nothing.

NOW FOR THE PROS! All of the reasons I really, really loved doing whole30, specifically this time around as a pregnant lady:

+ Sorry for being gross, but my bowel movements were ON POINT after a few days. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that it can make you crazy constipated all the time. Honestly, I’ve had like the best poop of my life this month, and I fully credit that to whole30.

+ I felt really good about the fact that I was giving my baby the best nourishment I could for thirty days straight. It was an extra motivation to keep on track knowing that he was benefitting from this, too.

+ My sleep. My amazing, pregnant sleep. Another thing that normally suffers during pregnancy, but holy cow, man. I have slept like I am basically dead for three weeks straight, and it is the best feeling to wake up and remember absolutely nothing from your sleep the night before. No tossing and turning or randomly waking up at 3am. I fall asleep so fast when my head hits the pillow, too.

+ I tend to take this for granted, but always notice it about whole30 as soon as favorite old foods creep back in afterward: On whole30, I have just an overall state of FEELING GOOD. What do I even mean? I mean this: I don’t get frequent headaches. I’m not achey, sore, or physically tired all the time. I don’t have weird stomach aches or constant gas. My body does not feel puffy or uncomfortable in my clothes. I just feel HEALTHY physically, and you don’t realize how wonderful that is until you start binging on pizza again and realize just how that works with your body and state of overall well being.

+ I always appreciate whole30 for the way that it gets me back into a kitchen groove. It takes awhile each time, and don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of planning around food, but toward the end you just get in a really good place of learning your way around (even if you’ve been there before) and being able to quickly throw together a meal that will satisfy your needs. In between whole30’s I tend to get in ruts where I’m like, “UGH, I don’t know what to make and nothing is accessible and I’m too lazy, I’ll just eat this cold toast and a diet soda.” Today I had no plans for lunch, but without even thinking and in about 15 minutes had whipped up a delicious skillet of sautéed potatoes and veggies with a chicken sausage. It helps you find your place in the kitchen again and realize, it’s not that big of a deal to take care of yourself.

+ There’s something to be said for what whole30 does for your confidence. It feels really good to say, I chose to do something good for myself and then I DID IT. It makes you respect yourself more and gives you a little more confidence, even if your physical appearance hasn’t been very altered. I told a friend after a week in that it was so funny how much less I found myself criticizing my body once I had adjusted my eating. Like I really didn’t look different, but I just felt a little more appreciation and self love for my body while I was making good choices. It struck me that a lot of self-loathing that I come across in the physical realm might actually relate more to feeling frustrated over my poor decisions and less about what my body looks like. Because even seeing how my body is basically the same in these two pictures, I feel very proud and content with how I look, leg cellulite and all, whereas 27 days ago I was feeling really down and frustrated. I think for me it came down to realizing that if I’m making good choices, I’m ok with however that translates for me physically. I think my unscripted posture and expression in the photos below say a lot.


Left, day 1, Right, day 27


White Like Me Book Club, Chapter 4

Book club, chapter 4! If you’re new,  start with the introductionchapter one, and chapter two, and three.

I’ll preface this chapter’s post by saying that I’m still getting used to the fact that this book is much more autobiographical than I anticipated. It’s my fault for assuming what I thought the book would be written like, but it’s taken me aback a few times as I’ve read. I thought it would be a little more academic with numbers and citations and less personal storyline (selfishly I’m like, duuuuude, no one cares about whether you consider yourself a Marxist or to what degree or why. Just get on with it!).

Chapter four was all about Tim’s college experience, and the ways in which race played into that. Tim was an activist, so he spends a lot of time discussing what that looked like, his frustrations with being in activist groups, and some lessons he learned along the way as a white person fighting against apartheid and racism. Even though sometimes I got bored during his storytelling, I thought he made a lot of really great points. I’ll bullet point what I liked below.

+ I’ve loved that throughout the book he’s pointed out that where you come from matters for your life of today. I find a lot of people who want to tell me their own (or their family’s) bootstrap stories, and I always feel like they are missing some of the deeply embedded ways that being black sets you back from the get go. In Tim’s case, he came from what sounds like a working class family and had to take out loans for college. But – as he points out – the reason his mother got the loan, was by use of the collateral of his grandmother’s home. That’s how his mother was able to get a loan cosigned. It immediately made me think of the Ta-Nehisi Coates article that was referenced earlier, in which he described redlining and how damn near impossible it was for blacks in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s to get a mortgage on a home, or to get a fair deal. Home ownership was hard. And Tim shows how that privilege of his grandmother was passed onto him inadvertently through the ability to get a college loan.

+ I really appreciated how he pointed out that as a white student, he never had to worry about his mediocre grades or school performance being blamed on his race, or, having people suggest that he had somehow gotten into school by some sort of “preferential treatment”. I appreciated how he pointed out that across the nation, many a standard are lowered for white students who have connections. He says, “Studies indicate there are twice as many whites who fail to meet normal admission standards but who are admitted anyway thanks to “connection preferences” as there are persons of color who receive any consideration from affirmative action. (97)” — as a sidenote, I think it greatly, greatly takes away from the narrative strength of this book that he never quotes his “studies.” I want to take him seriously, but how can I when you never cite a single study you are telling me about? I find that incredibly lame.

+ Let’s get to his section on indifference over hatred. WOW. I have heard this a lot from the black community over the past few years. They would honestly rather hear from people who are full of hate than people who sit around with closed lips, eyes intent on the television or their day-to-day endeavors. He says, “It’s not unlike the difference between the person who seeks to openly justify the death of civilians in war time with bloodthirsty logic, on the one hand, and the person who blankly stares at the TV screen as it projects images of the death and destruction while not blinking, on the other.”


I feel like this hit me on so many levels. I mean, where does this NOT apply? Racism, poverty, war, the list goes on. How content are we (ME) to work on photos of our lunches or our next shopping trip, shoving our fingers in our ears when we hear something that demands attention and justice? It’s so much easier to just pretend it’s not there…

+ This brings me to the last point – his story of being at a debate about the apartheid issues in South Africa and at the end of the debate being asked by a black woman what he had done in his own city to battle apartheid?

He was stunned, and speechless, and so, so embarrassed.

Anyone else feel a tiny flush while you were reading? I did!

I’m inspired to look for ways I can work toward racial reconciliation in my own city. In my own neighborhood. Grateful for the push.

Discussion questions:

  1. Do you think your skin color affected your college education, if you had one? Thinking back on your previous generations, is there any privilege your ancestors enjoyed (or were withheld from) that either aided you with or hindered you from attending college?
  2. Thinking of your answer above, are you able to connect other ways beyond college that your skin color has either given you a head start on life or set you back a few steps? (I will answer these two and the third for myself in the comments…)
  3. What are some tangible, simple ways you can address racial reconciliation within your own social sphere? (Edit – good point from a commenter….maybe simple isn’t the best choice of words here.)


White Like Me Book Club, Chapter 3

Alright listen, I kiiiiiinda hated this chapter.

(Oh! But before we jump in, thanks so much for those of you who participated in the comments last week! Keep it coming! If you’re new, here is the introductionchapter one, and chapter two.)

I’m sorry! I don’t want to be a basher, but to be straightforward, I felt like this chapter was a lot of long-winded, personal meandering about his middle school experience and his tone was just a tiny bit – as one friend and my husband both put it – self-important? Ugh. I hate being critical but I don’t know how else to describe it! Don’t get me wrong. I still think he’s got made some great points, but this chapter just wasn’t my favorite. While I think personal experience is important, I sometimes wish he would be a little more objective in his discussions.

Nonetheless, some points I found interesting, in no particular order:

+ I did relate to his discussion of separation of friends at the middle school level based on, among other things, race. I think middle school is the beginning of a lot of self defining and boundary line drawing for yourself, and for minorities, that might mean some serious coming to terms with what is different between yourself and your white friends. I know in the small high school that I went to, people of color often stuck together. They might have had white friends, sure, but their true clique was with their mutual black friends (and my true click with my mutual white friends).

+ I also related heavily to his personal story about standing up to an administrator, and that, in a majority white school, his skin tone lent him the empowerment to do such a thing. This rings so true for my high school experience. I can think of so many times that I stood up to both teachers and administrators in pretty ballsy ways – challenging authority and such – (are you surprised?) and looking back, I can rarely remember my friends of color doing the same, and, I’d guess, they probably didn’t feel like they could get away with it like I could. Touché, Tim.

+ I got really bored during all of his debate talk. I thought he made some valid points, but was still overall kind of bored. I liked how he mentioned that it feels like a luxury to sit around bantering about life or death issues as a mere mental exercise (ahem…kinda what I’m doing RIGHT NOW) knowing full well that nothing you discuss actually has to come into fruition and/or affect you in any way. It was kind of scary how much he showed that debate teams are sort of BS – they focus on fast talk and winning over, you know, actually giving logical, sound arguments – and how so many politicians are born out of it. Yikes.

+ I would be more interested in his last bit on white culture and addictions (drugs/alcohol) if he had provided some solid numbers or citations – as it is, it was hard for me to really envision the big picture. How much more do whites have a problem with substance abuse than people of color? What other factors come into play there? I would just enjoy seeing some studies on that rather than an uncited sentence about “research”. Still – I did find his ideas interesting of white addiction stemming from not fulfilling all that we are told we can be, and what that implied for people of color being less addicted. Is the implication that they are told from the get go in various indirect (or direct) ways that they won’t amount to much, so they don’t suffer that mental let down of feeling like they’ve failed the American myth of white success?

Honestly, I don’t have any discussion questions from this confusing chapter. (Insert exasperated emoji – I’m lost without emojis). But I am still very interested to hear your thoughts on the chapter, as always!


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