Light Gray Sweater + Building Friendships | On the Daily EXPRESS

1/15/18

Light Gray Sweater + Building Friendships

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I hope you all had a nice weekend! And for some of you it's probably still the weekend with the holiday today! My husband doesn't have the day off, but the kids are off school today so I'm hoping to help them have a little extra fun along with some of their friends. I'm sharing a little more about friendships for them and for me that in my Monday Motivation segment below, but as usual I'll start with the outfit details first.
Sweater | Belt | Jeans | Boots (c/o) | Necklace | Bag (c/o) | Earrings 

Outfit Details:
This belt looks pretty basic (which I like in and of itself), although it's actually reversible and I think the reverse side, which is a blonde/tan color, will pair well with a lot of spring pieces. It runs true to size per the size chart. My boots also run true to size. My black jeans from Abercrombie are called "Low Rise" jeans , but I find them normal/mid-rise, and not low. The rise is about the same as Mid Rise jeans from Express, and as for comparing the two, these have replaced my black jeans from Express as my favorites. I just think they flatter a bit more and taper a bit better down to the ankle opening (which you can't see here of course). 

I had a reward to use up at Express so I picked this Velour Dolman Sleeve Sweater since it was new in stock and color + style-wise it looked like it would work now through Spring. I honestly wasn't too sure about it based on the stock photo alone, but the positive reviews sold me. The pink color was my first choice because I thought it would flatter me most, but since I just recently got a different pink sweater (see it here), I thought I should change it up a little. When I pulled it out of the package I thought it was going to be way too short. And when I tried it on...I still wasn't sure because I'm just used to longer tops lately! But when I tried to look at it objectively, I thought it was reasonably flattering and worth keeping because it different than anything else I had. (Plus, when you use a reward at Express...you don't get it back if you return the item so I really didn't want to waste it!) The best parts about this though? First, it's super soft and comfortable. This is the year of ultra-soft sweaters and I'm getting pretty spoiled and raising my standards of comfort. If you are too and prefer soft fabrics like Chenille, this should pass your test. Second, I liked the thumb holes! I don't think they add any functional value but it's just a fun, different detail. 

Monday Motivation: Building Friendships
On January 1 I kicked off the 2018 edition of my Monday Motivation series and outlined the four key areas I'm focusing on for the year. I promised to go into more detail on each area in subsequent weeks, and now we're on week two. For January I'm following the order I listed in the original post: Time Management (discussed here), Relationships, Personal Growth, Health & Fitness. After this month I'll share more organically based on what's relevant at the time.

This week we're on the topic of Relationships. I try not to make generic goals à la, "improve my relationships" without having any sort of plan attached, so I need posts like this to force me to analyze my current situation and formulate a few specifics. One of my favorite books of 2017 was The Happiness Hypothesis, and it had a quote that I often repeat to myself, especially when I'm analyzing my priorities or deciding how to spend my time:

"Happiness doesn't come from within. Happiness comes from between.
It comes from getting the right relationships 
between yourself and others,
yourself and your work,
and yourself and something larger than yourself."

I've talked about this quote before (see this post), but it's relevant again today because it succinctly makes the point that relationships are a major key to happiness! When I wrote my value list for the year, I was specifically thinking about my relationships "between [my]self and others" rather than the other two categories, so for today I'm just going to focus on that relationship area. While my relationships with my immediate and extended family are the most important to me and certainly take nurturing and effort, I tend to be a little more private about those on the blog, so for today friendships for myself and my kids are my main focus.

Growing up with shows like Friends and Melrose Place, I imaged adult life would be filled with people hanging out all the time and constantly doing fun things together. And when someone has a baby, no problem! The baby will nap when your friends come over, or when the child gets older they'll just go to their room to quietly color or do homework . Or Grandma will watch her anytime (ahem...Rachel from Friends) and life will go on just as it did before with your fun group of friends! Needless to say, the reality of adult life for me has not been like that. As a San Diego transplant, I didn't grow up with anyone around here or even have the chance to make friends in a Moms Group when I had a new baby or toddler. In this stage of life, making friends is more challenging than ever. I've also never lived close to extended family since my kids were born, so finding sitters for adults-only is both challenging and cost-prohibitive.

All of that is not meant to sound like a complaint about my life. It's only to say that making friends as an adult is harder than I expected, and it's been a slow process since starting out in a new city four years ago. I have gradually made some good quality friendships here (side note: almost all of them were made through classes where we had a common interest, which I highly recommend if you're trying to expand your own social network), but finding the time to get together in person is tough! I started a monthly Sunday Brunch group with three of my girlfriends last year (more here) and that's been a great experience. Often times it just takes one person being willing to put themselves out there and plan something to really make a friendship stick. I could have attended classes for years and never made real friends if we didn't commit to putting something on the calendar consistently. I've started up some fitness classes again recently and am hoping it will help me expand my social network just a little bit more this year, especially as I challenge myself to take the risk to initiate activities outside of the class.

On the parenting front, I know I need to do a better job of setting up hang outs for my kids and their friends. (I've been informed that they don't do Play Dates now. They hang out. Ahem.) It's really easy to keep your kids busy with sports and music lessons and after school homework and activities...and then just let them socialize online during whatever down time they have left. But I understand from my own experience and many other books I've read (most recently not Irresistible) that face-to-face interactions are critical, especially now with the technology that can cripple their interpersonal skills. It's pretty awkward reaching out to a parent I've never met and trying to make plans for our kids to hang out, but when I do, it's incredibly rewarding to see how happy it makes the kids. I definitely want to be more consistent about that this year so that my kids have a good foundation of quality friendships heading into their teenage years. Every parent I know who has survived the teenage years has stressed the importance of those friendships to me, so I'm taking notes and taking action!

I always get a little more wordy than I intend to in these posts, so I hope there's something in those words that connects with you or motivates you. I'd love to hear your thoughts on making adult friendships or fostering your children's friendships as a parent! If you've read good books or articles on the topic, please let me know about them in the comments!


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20 comments:

  1. This outfit is so sleek and chic, and these posts are always so interesting. Maintaining friendships is challenging as an adult. I can remember the last time I met someone new.

    xo
    Pinksole

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    1. Someday I would love to hear how you met Charnele and Daphnee and any of your other current friends since I'm pretty sure you did not grow up around them!

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this about friendships! I don't live really close to family either and so the babysitting thing I completely relate to. It's hard to make friends when you are an adult and didn't grow up with them. I envy those people with lifelong friendships, especially since I moved around so much as a kid. I hope they know how good they have it! I finally found some great people when I switched jobs about 3 1/2 years ago and it's the main reason I am continuing to work there. Working with great people and friends makes a world of difference!

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    1. Oh that's great that your co-workers have become your friends. We have been lucky to meet a few friends through my husband's job as well.

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  3. Good thing you we have awesome besties from college days who have been with us since the days of "Astronaut Girl" all the way thru Diaper Diaries and back to dating in my 40s! LOL! Thanks for the Motivation Monday series! I need to get out more, lol!

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    1. Ha! Those were good memories! And yes, everyone definitely needs a best friend who is only a phone call away. If only I could convince mine to move here!

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  4. nice outfit.you look very nice.
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  5. it is great to visit your site.great blog.you look.very pretty.
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  6. you look very pretty in this dress.
    http://www.1dollardigitizing.com/

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  7. Replies
    1. Thanks! They're actually prescription so I wear them all the time to avoid wearing contacts. :)

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  8. I LOVE the sweater, especially because it has thumb holes! This would be so cute for a day at the beach camping...it's on my list now ;)

    I think we've talked about the topic of friendships as an adult before so I won't go on now but I think getting involved in a hobby or taking classes is the best way to meet people. Otherwise, it feels nearly impossible!

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    1. Blogging is sometimes a good way to meet people in real life too. ;) I'm certainly glad it helped me meet you!

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  9. I love A&F jeans, they're my favorite, I probably have over 15! Love the way they fit. Express is my second favorite place to shop for jeans/jeggings, but some of them, I noticed do tend to be a bit too wide at the ankles for me. That sweater is so cute, too and looks so soft, I'm definitely buying it! I can't tell you how many Express items I bought because of your posts, haha!

    I think that one of the most stressful things that comes to my mind whenever I think about having kids, is making friends with other parents. I just love keeping to myself so much and spend so much time working or just being by myself (my husband usually works long hours) so that's just something that makes me a bit anxious when I think about it, hehe :)

    Loved this post, Gina!

    Paula
    Thirteen Thoughts

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    1. Well, you don't necessarily have to make friends with other parents so I wouldn't stress on that too much! I did more when my kids were younger, but that was my choice. Now most of my friends came via hobbies and they don't even have kids!
      About the jeans - it's only my Black Express pair that seem to have the wider ankles! Kinda strange.

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  10. It's hard making friends when you're older. I do live by my family now, but for 10 years I was on the opposite side of the country. It was really tough at times. I like your gorgeous outfit and that gray sweater is really a classic!

    http://www.mylittlenest.org

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