Corporate Kool-Aid and a Redo...

Leggings: Lotus (15% online with coupon code: MODA), Sweater: Old Navy, Bag: H&M, Tank: Target, Watch: Michael Kors, Stone Bracelet: CeleneStones (15% off mentioning ModaFresca, email Krista at CeleneStones@gmail)

Every few months or so (in my corporate job) my bosses boss will set up a 30 minute touch base call with me. The call normally consists of a standard set of questions to allow her to gauge my job satisfaction, see if there is anything I would change, ask me what my “pain points” are etc. etc. I like her so I don’t dread the calls, but saying that I looked forward to them would be a real stretch. 
I give pretty standard answers and try to keep the conversation 10 and 2. I stay genuine enough to give honest feedback, and surface level enough to not ruffle any feathers. I play the game. I’ve been in the corporate world of big business a long time. After a while you figure out that you have to be political and diplomatic, and (in my case) if you do good work you’re pretty much left alone to keep doing it. That’s just how it is. 
These calls with my bosses boss are normally pretty predictable, and I like them that way. I know what to say and what not to touch with a 10 foot pole. So… you can imagine my surprise when (after we had gone through the standard set of questions) she started asking me about my personal life. Nothing too crazy, just trying to get to know me a bit better, you know... bond. After I warmed up I mentioned that I am teaching Pilates quite a bit, that I’m in school for nutrition and that my interest is an integrative/holistic/mind body approach to it all. I half expected her to brush it off and say something canned like… “Oh, that’s nice” and we would finish up. Instead, she lit up. 
She got really excited and started saying how interested she is in all of that. We talked food, children, school lunch programs, Western medicine, big pharm(aceuticals), big business’s influence on government recommendations and regulations, the food pyramid, preventable diseases, etc. We both wanted to say so much that we talked over each other a few times. There was a lot of… “Oh my gosh… ME TOO. I AGREE. I couldn’t have said it better. I KNOW!” Our 30 minute touch base turned into a 60 minutes actual conversation that I truly enjoyed. We left our corporate world of canned Q & A and came alive for 35 minutes. Really alive.
I tell you all of this, because she said something on that call that struck me. I thought about it for hours after we hung up. She paused, lowered her voice and said.. “Melissa, I just told my husband last week that if I could just do it all over again… I would have gone to school for nutrition or integrative medicine. I think about it ALL of the time.”
"If I could just do it all over again..."
Man… what a strong statement. I could tell that she meant it; that she had put a lot of time thinking about it. In that moment Shit.Got.Real. It was as if she was acknowledging that this career we share isn’t the end all be all. I always thought of this woman as Mrs. Concrete Jungle. I thought she lived and breathed this place. She is always slinging the Corporate Kool-Aid. She is in her mid 40’s... married.. 2 kids... and is high enough on the corporate totem pole to make a pretty damn good living. She has full medical benefits, paid time off, a 401K, etc. I am sure it seems impossible for her to make a life altering change like switching careers at this point. But... it was as if she was nudging me to go for it. To pursue what I wanted to do. To not let what I feel I have to do block me from my true passion. It was as if this woman was whispering to me… “there’s still time for you… run, biiitch… RUN!” Hahahaha… Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, and of course she did not come out and directly say any of those things, but that's what I took from it. It was the way she said it all. There was inspiration in her energy... and in her regret. 
I hung up the phone and  looked around at my desk. My double monitors… laptop… ergonomic desk chair… speaker phone with all the bells and whistles… and my wireless headset. I scanned my desk and saw the framed pictures of my loved ones on my desk (of my sweet grandmother who passed too soon, and I wondered, what she would have done if she "had the chance to do it all over again”), the inspirational quotes I surrounded myself with all saying essentially the same thing ( “Your life is now” and  “It’s never too late to be what you might have been”), and I was reminded, more like slapped in the face with it, really... the realization, that it's all up to me. 
If I don’t want to be here forever, I have to work tirelessly to make a change. It won’t happen overnight. It will be scary as shht. It may take years, but I was not going to be at this desk forever. I couldn’t be. There was more. MORE THAN ANYTHING I do not want to be on the phone with someone who reports to me, 10 years from now and say… “if I had to do it all over again.”
I'm not saying that Corporate America  is a bad goal, or that working in a similar environment the majority of your life, equals a life un-lived. That's not the case at all. It is exactly what a lot of people want to do. What they go to school for. How they feed their families, give their children opportunities. It's an environment that many people thrive in, but it's also an environment that many of us hide out in. We squat there telling ourselves that this is just the "real world". That it's what we are "supposed" to do. It's the way society works, and although it's not easy, it's more comfortable than big change.
Big changes are f*ing terrifying and we dont' make them because we tell ourselves we can't. That we don’t have the luxury of just taking time off to “figure it all out”. We have bills. Student loans, Car payments, Debt, Kids, Partners, Day Care, Mortgages, etc.  We need our benefits, Retirement accounts, stability, safety. We have to put food on the table. I get it. All of that is true. But... there are others out there that know... feel it in their bones, that their "reasons" are nothing more than excuses. I am one of those people. For starters... if I really wanted to get out of Corporate America I would stop spending money on dumb shit and focus on using that money to build myself a cushion (or at least to eliminate debt). I'd do that so I could follow my passions.
Words like “passion” and “dreams” used to scare me. I honestly didn’t think I had any. I mean, I knew I did… but I could not articulate them. I could tell you that I didn’t want to be behind a desk my whole life on conference calls, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what I wanted to do instead either. So…I just started trying shit out. A bunch of shit.
It was the summer of 2011 and I got sick. Out of nowhere, and it was bad. As in life or death bad. No joke. My manfriend had to call my family and let them know that doctors told him I could be gone in hours. I had a 50/50 chance of making it. Truth. It took me months to physically recover. After that, I was like YO… I almost died. FO REAL. That shht was terrifying. I spent a long time doing nothing. Laying there, all day and all night recovering. One can only read so many books and watch so many movies. You have to think. You are forced into facing the big questions. Like…. "If I would have died at 31 would I have been please with the way I lived it? Did I exist or live? Was I was proud of my life? Did I say “I’m sorry”? Ask for forgiveness from people I hurt? Did I forgive people who hurt me? Try new things? Fall on my face? Explore faith? Put myself out there? Fail enough? Try enough? Love deeply?" The answer would have been no. I had a good life, but it was a pretty safe one. Scared to be bad at things. Scared to fail. Scared of what people would think maybe?  Almost dying makes you think. Long and hard. I got better and decided that I would start to live with a little more gusto.
I started this blog. I started taking pictures, trying my hand at photography. I started to get really interested in food and health. I wrote. Read. Took new classes. Started a yoga practice. Started a Pilates practice. Put my heart and soul into a relationship with a man. Focused on my health. Pulled away from "friendships" that didn't really serve me any longer. I quit bad habits, and picked up good ones. I’ve gone WAY out of my comfort zone. WAYthefuckout out. And now, after 3 + years of trying new things out, I have realized…. 
I much prefer doing Pilates to hip hop music over practicing Yoga to the sounds of running streams and ancient chanting. 
I eat a heavily plant-based diet, but after dancing with it for 5 months or so, I realized that I am NOT hard core vegan material. Did someone say mozzarella?
I love taking pictures, but I do not want to study to be a professional photographer. The technical aspects don't interest me enough.
I love blogging about personal style, but a closet full of new clothes and accessories does nothing to add to the true quality of my life. 
I don't give a shit about high end fashion.
Every end is just the beginning of something else.  
I've become someone who really enjoys health and wellness, but I loathe the unsustainable extremes that are associated with the fitness culture.
I am so grateful for grace and mercy. 
I've become more selective about who I spend time with. I have no time for needy, negative, whiny people.
I am not a runner. 
I adore women who are supportive of one another.
I will wake up in the 4am hour every day to do something I love. 
I won't give up coffee.
I hate Twitter. 
I love to cook but not enough to mess up my kitchen every day. 
I believe in second chances. 
You may not be the best, but you're probably not the worst.
I believe that the more you are grateful for, the more you receive.
I've never been more in love. 
Anything worth doing is scary as hell.  
And… above all, I have realized that no one is paying that much attention. If you fall, if you "fail"... if you try something that does not suit you and you put it down, so what? Fuk it. 
It’s fun figuring it all out. Going along for the ride. Fill your life so full of new things that if you were to die while you were still young, at least you didn't wait to really live. So you don't look back and think... "if I could just do it all over again".


ModaFresca Turns 3!

Dress: Vestique, Sweater: Target, Booties: Dolce Vita, Purse: Lotus, Nameplate Necklace: Blue Jane Jewelry, Tassel Necklace: Stella & Dot

I wore this last Saturday. I showed up to teach Pilates that morning in a snow suit because it was friggin' cold outside, and by the time we finished an hour later it was almost 80 damn degrees. The weather is whaaaaaacky in Charlotte right now, but you know I'll take 80 degrees any way I can get it. Come to mama....

I have most of my casual summer dresses packed away, but this Lone Ranger was in a dry cleaning bag front and center in my closet so I decided to throw it on. I added the sweater because I knew I was going to need it later that night, but I assure you that in these pictures I am straight up perspiring. In fact... I distinctly remember wiping sweat off of my upper lip before they were snapped.

Throwing a sweater over a summer dress is an easy way to transition into the cooler months. (Not that I'm trying to convince you that that little nugget of wisdom is a cutting edge fashion tip or anything.) Just a friendly reminder that not all of your summer stuff needs to collect dust for the next 6 months. You can still extend the life of a lot of your warm weather items by layering them. And... don't be scared of wearing white. Not being able to wear a specific color after a certain point in the year (Labor Day in this case) has to be the single dumbest thing I have ever heard. Seriously. Who thinks of this shit? Stupid.

On another note, ModaFresca is 3 years old this month. Yup... it was started in October 2011. I was 31 (ahh... the good ol' days)... and at the time I didn't realize that everyone and their mother had a "personal style" blog. I only ever saw 20 year old, insanely thin women who wore designer clothes, and somehow had the means to blog from a different city (NY, LA, Miami, Paris, London, etc.) every week with them. Super skinny, young, rich, label whores that I could not relate to. So... I decided to create one for the rest of us. The women who aren't fresh off our teenage years, and a size 0 (whatever the hell a size "nothing" means). Women who shop at Target and occasionally Forever 21 (even if they're closer to 40 than 21). Women who work (in or outside of the home). Women who don't have unlimited funds. Women who want to read about more than a 15% off sale at Tory Burch and get sold to. (Have you ever noticed that most blogs have more advertisements on them than content? Annoying.)

In the 3 years I have been doing ModaFresca I have let people into a lot. You've been with me when I have been annoyingly happy and insanely sad. I've written blog entries that have pissed people off, made people giggle, made people wonder "what the hell is she wearing/saying" or "who the hell does she think she is?". You've been around when I have gone through life changes. Moving... second guessing myself the whole way to Pilates teacher training... going back to school for nutrition. You stuck around when I went MIA from spraining my ankle, getting the flu, accidentally sticking a knife through my hand while cutting an avocado (dumbass)... or just being so sick of looking at my own pictures and reading my own words that I simply dropped off the grid for a week or more.

I've shared stories about relationships, friendships, and family. You've seen pictures from 3 of my 4 brother's weddings. You comforted me when I wrote loooong posts at 3AM the week before and the week after my family lost our beloved grandmother. You were with me when I gained 15 lbs, lost 15lbs... went brunette for a hot minute... cut all my hair off... went platinum and back again. You've encouraged me, supported me, challenged me, and made me laugh my ass off with your FB comments. I don't know how long I'll do this blog. When I started I didn't think it would last more than a few months. I didn't even know what it was exactly. I guess I still don't. Maybe that's the trick? As soon as it becomes something I begrudgingly do it dies. 

I know a blog is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it's been a big part of my life for quite a while now. For some it's just a stupid website where an average woman posts a few too many pictures of herself. But... I also know that for others...  it is their break. It's like having a "conversation" with a girlfriend. Inspiration to say fuck it and wear a crop top. Their 3.5 minutes of "me" time. Maybe it's made them think? Laugh? Cry? Or smile. And for that... I am grateful.

So... "Happy Birthday ModaFresca"... and if you're reading... "THANK YOU"! Sincerely.


From the Mat to the Streets

Vest: Rock & Republic, Sweatshirt: Old Navy, Pants: Marshalls, Boots: Nine West, Watch: Michael Kors, Bracelets: Alex & Ani
It's not often that I do a blog post whilst wearing a sweatshirt and yoga pants.

I mean... not many people (including myself) really think of workout clothes as being overly interesting or inspiring. I have always kept workout clothes and real clothes separate. In my closet and in my mind.

However... these days I am in workout gear a lot. I teach anywhere from 2-4 Pilates sessions a day, at least 5 days a week (before and after my corporate job). I'm not trying to sound like an asshole... "Oh... I work out SO much I am ALWAYS in gym clothes because I am a Billy Badass Boss Bitch in perfect shape." No... I wear them to teach and the other 90% of the time I am in them  because at that point I have lost all desire to deal with regular clothes, or (as was the case yesterday when I wore this after brunch) I had just eaten too much and could not even begin to think about wearing jeans.

Have you ever tried going from yoga pants to jeans??? Shoot me in the face. It's awful. Sitting in denim feels like an ancient torture method after hanging out in lycra all day.

But, because I have less and less desire to be in anything but workout clothes lately, I have been trying  (once in a blue moon when my hair is done and I actually have some make up on) to wear an outfit or two that is more transitional. Something to take me from the yoga mat to the streets (and by streets I mean the Target near my house in the suburbs).

So... instead of sneakers (my usual go-to), I put on these cute booties. And... instead of my old ass Adidas jacket from the year 2000, I opted for this leather vest. Easy.

I know... most of the time you don't give a shit if your workout/lounge gear is fashionable or not, but once in a while wouldn't it be nice to be in Target or Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon and not look like you may or may not live out of one of the shopping carts in the parking lot? I mean... there is casual, and then there is homeless. And some days (at least for me) there is a fine line separating the two. Teeter carefully my friends. Carefully.


I did that. I made you.

Shirt: H&M, Jacket: Lotus (vintage) 15% off on lotuslook.com with code MODA at checkout, Shirt: Target, Shoes: Marshalls, Bag and Watch: Michael Kors, Bracelet: CeleneStones (get 15% off if you mention ModaFresca when you email CeleneStones@gmail.com to customize yours)

Do you ever get lost in a train of thought and by the time you realize you were zoned out you are thinking about something completely different than you started with? And then you're in this weird mood afterwards?

It happened to me this morning after I got off of the phone with my mom actually. 

I talked to my mom on the phone around 7AM.
She was saying that it was Boss's Day and that she had to stop to get her boss a gift. 
She sounded tired and kind of sad (which may have just been her being exhausted and having to go to work for 12-14 hours, but I detected sadness still).
I got sad that my mom was sad.
I thought about how hard she has worked her whole life, and how long most of her days had been. How completely heartbroken she has been since my grandma died this summer. 
I threw up a little prayer quickly that everyone my mother encountered today would be really kind to her.

My mom cares about people. She is a nice person.
I started to think about what a shame it is that my mother cannot see herself through my eyes. 
I started to feel bad that my mom has always felt inferior to everyone else.
I thought about how uncomfortable she is in public settings.
I remembered us going to the grocery store right before it closed when I was a kid because there would be less people there at that hour, and that way she wouldn't have to see anyone.
My mom would never speak in public.
Never wear anything that drew attention to herself.
Never cause a scene.

I got mad at faceless strangers who made fun of her as a teenager and talked behind her back.
I got sad that my mom, the strongest, hardest working person I have ever met was so scarred by other people's opinions of her and their stupid, juvinile, careless words.
So impacted that they permanently shaped who she was to become.
That their judgement followed her and she could not detach herself from it.

My mom was 15 years old when she got pregnant with me.
It was 1979.
She was shamed.
An outcast.
All of her children were born between the time she was 15-21.
She was young.
4 kids.
People stopped talking to her.
They started talking about her.

I knew that my mom was embarrassed by decisions she made all of those years ago. I knew she was hurt. I knew being around people made her uncomfortable, but it had never hit me quite as hard... like a punch to the gut.. as did at one of my brother's weddings 2 years ago. My mom and I were on the dance floor together at the reception (it was crowded and dark or there is NO way she would have been dancing with other people around). She brought me in for a hug and said... "I'm proud of you, baby girl, and I love you SO much." My mom is really affectionate, so the fact that she was saying these things didn't throw me off, so much as how she was saying them. I said "what's wrong, Mama? She looked at me and then down at the floor and said... "Oh, nothing, it's just that there is a woman here that I went to high school with and when I got pregnant with you, she talked about me and was really mean. She acted like she was so much better than me. But, now... here you are, and you are beautiful and you love me so much, and you spoke so well giving your brother's speech, and you're so strong, and so confident, and people love you, and I just thought to myself... take that. I didn't fail. I did that. I made you.

I got those big, fat, heavy tears in my eyes and as soon as I blinked they crashed down my face and landed on my chest.
30+ years later and seeing that woman still took her there.
That shit is powerful. 
I will never, as long as I live, forget that moment.

I know my mom really well.
I knew that she cared too much about what other people said and thought but I never understood, fully understood, how every part of her was shaped by that shit.
Somehow she raised me to be different. It was as if she taught me to have the charateristics that would have made her more bulletproof. Don't you dare give a shit what people think or say about you, because it does not matter. You are only defined by other people if you let them define you.

I love my mom so much.
So fuking much.
It's unreal. Makes my heart feel like it's going to burst just writing this. 


I started to think what a shame it is that kids who are young right now (whether they are being bullied, or just feel generally unaccepted) are being shaped by what other kids are saying about them and how they are being treated. And I just hoped that they have someone in their life who reminds them that it is all bullshit. You can be whomever you want to be. You can look different, act different, make different choices, make "mistakes", move on, grow, and be bold. Some people will like you. Some will not. That's okay. But. Do not. Please do not listen to that shit, or shove it so deep down inside of you that it becomes that soil your self worth grows from. It can change the course of your life. I promise you that it can, and if you are not careful... it will. It will change how you show up in your one, precious life.

I wish.
I wish my mom could see her how I see her.

A Boss Bitch. Today, on Boss's Day... and Every.Damn.Day.