All the Good Things That I Love


As I'm sure you are too, I'm still reeling from the events of this weekend; though as any person of color will tell you, I'm not particularly surprised. In the weeks leading up the the election and the months thereafter, I spent hours weeping on my therapist's couch about the state of the world. Of how afraid I was to have a leader who emboldened and coddled racists, whose own ignorance made him incapable of leading diplomatic discussions and would put us in danger. My therapist kept assuring me that we had checks and balances, that nothing dramatic would happen, that little would change, that I was catastrophizing. And maybe I was, but I guess I really wasn't since it's all playing out pretty much exactly as I predicted. My petty heart wants nothing more than to go pop my head into her office and serve her up with an, "I told you so!"

But that isn't very productive, is it. We're all very much in need of something non-news related, and I've been finding so much peace in the various subjects that I'm interested in that I figured I'd share them with you too. I keep coming across articles that I want to share with you and forget to write them down! After the election I had a really hard time reading anything but the news. To be honest, I'm still drowning in it;  gulping down my Twitter feed like it's a cool apricot La Croix on a hot summer day — but like, terrible. Luckily, I've been finding solace in so much of the beautiful lifestyle writing that is happening right now. Everyone has seriously stepped up their game, and I am the greedy recipient taking it all in. I'm drowning in books and articles about all the things that enchant me and I am feeling enriched by it all, there aren't enough hours in the day. So let's all eek out a bit of peace during these painful times, shall we? 


I've become an absolute fragrance nut in the past few months. Blame it on The Dry Down, the need to give my summertime natural deodorant a helping hand, getting older, or a desire to lean even more into my own personal fancy-lady aesthetic, but I am OBSESSED. I have been hoarding perfume samples like it's my business, and luckily for me, since I can write about  all my beauty hobbies, it kind of is my business. I've always been into heavy white florals like jasmine with a hint of musk, but I'm finding myself being all about rose scents lately. They're having a total moment in the beauty world right now, so it's everywhere. I'm hoping that I can train my olfactory senses to become more attuned to heavier, more masculine scents like sandalwood and tobacco come fall and winter, but try as I might they always give me a headache. I need to baby-step my way into that a thing? Who can train me in this endeavor?

I came across this article in the NY Times last week and was completely besotted with the entire idea of being a perfumer in France. One this I know for sure is that I am LONG OVERDUE for a trip to the French countryside. You better believe I've spent every night looking at flights and Airbnbs to Grasse. The author, Colleen Creamer, immediately had my attention with her first sentences. 

"Before I became a perfume devotee a dozen years ago, my lexicon for describing scent was limited to words like “woodsy” or “flowery.” Later I found myself craving the dexterity of language that could match the increasingly complex perfumes arriving at my house in tiny decanted samples."

That's kind of exactly how I feel now. I've been reading just about everything I can get my hands on about perfumes and scents, and I'm excited to expand my knowledge on the subject, both for my work and my own life. It's been incredibly soothing to allow myself to fall into the study of something so totally new and peaceful. My next endeavor will be to read Alyssa Harad's book: Coming to My Senses.

sn't the cover beautiful? Comme c'est romantique! I think I need make a list of all the book covers that I love. There are so many out there that just immediately grab me, like the cover of Margaret The First by Danielle Dutton or Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett. Can you sense the theme? 

My fragrance internet wanderings also led me to this old article from Vanity Fair about Marie Antoinette's last scent. I am enchanted by it. Apparently, when Marie Antoinette was trying to escape from Versailles, she was recognized by the mob because they knew only royalty could wear such an expensive perfume and that's when they captured her. Poor thing. Did you know you can actually buy the very same perfume? That's just incredible to me. You better believe I have ordered a sample. I am so obsessed.


Speaking of the French countryside, is everyone following photographer Jamie Beck on her adventures in Provence? Good grief what a stunning locale. It helps that she is a truly gifted photographer — she invented the Cinemagraph app that makes everything look like gauzy a dream. You can follow her on her blog, Ann Street Studio and on her Instagram, where she not only posts gorgeous photos but also breaks down how she takes them in her Instagram stories.

As someone who has only ever merely dabbled in photography, I find it fascinating and enlightening. What I would do for an artistic eye like hers! Her self-portrait series is the most beautiful I've seen in decades. She's wildly creative and plays with light in a way I could never dream of. Do yourself a favor and give yourself a follow. Every time she pops up in my timeline I stop to study the photograph. Next time someone rags on Insta, point them to her feed. 


I've been a big fan of Ashley Ford's writing and was frankly surprised (but delighted) to see that she moved to Refinery29 earlier in the year. Given the caliber of her work I always figured that the Times or Vanity Fair would scoop her up as quick as can be. Luckily, Refinery has given her the space to write about subjects that are meaningful to her that run the gamut of different subjects. The article she wrote a few months ago on seeing her father for the first time after his incarceration was incredibly moving and eye-opening for someone who has never experienced anything remotely like that.

But it was her piece on plus-sized fashion in NY Mag's The Cut last week that gave me excited butterflies for her.  While her essays are brilliant, I find her writing on fashion to be completely groundbreaking and disruptive. It's so exciting to me that she's working at one of the most popular fashion sites in existence and fearlessly writing about all the issues that the industry faces and calling them out to their faces. This particular article was featured in The Cut and includes interviews with people like Aidy Bryant and Christian Siriano, and discusses the origins of plus-sized fashion houses like Lane Bryant.

So much of what I love about my work is that I get to be a part of a movement to change the definition of what beauty is. The only way to challenge traditional beauty standards is from within, and I love that we are moving towards a space that is more inclusive of body types, skin tones, genders, and more. Thanks to the kind of work that Ashley is doing, the call is coming from inside the house.


Have you ever watched the HBO show, Enlightened? I often say that it's what I watch when I need to crack my heart wide open, and if there's ever a time for that it's now. If you haven't ever checked it out, do yourself a favor and watch it. It's like drinking a cool, tall drink of water on a sweltering day. Laura Dern is absolutely incandescent as a woman re-building her life after suffering a public breakdown. It's an exploration of hope, love, and all of life's challenges in a beautiful, quiet and introspective package.

Mike White created and wrote it based on his own experiences with mental illness, and you can really feel the rawness of that experience pulsating from the screen. And if this sounds depressing, let me assure you that it's not. The central theme of the show is hope, and how to hold onto it when things are as bad as they could possibly be. Yes, it's tinged with a continual sadness, but I've always found it beautiful and comforting (that probably says a lot about me.)

I often turn to this show during troubled times, and ended up binging it last week. The episodes are all short and sweet, so if you've got some time, do yourself a favor and check it out.


The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

-- Ellen Bass



Want to get Mistress of Myself posts delivered straight to your inbox? Click here.