a whispering return

January 21st, 2016

sugarlaws-4{Photo Credit: Rachel Sutherland}

About six weeks ago, I announced some big changes on Sugarlaws for 2016. And then a few weeks passed, and I looked down at my calendar and realized that the month of January is almost over (what??) and I haven’t written a word.

And on one hand, that’s sort of ok. I’ve had some time to sit with my decision and I’m feeling better than ever about it. I’ve received so many incredibly kind words from readers, other bloggers, and friends, and it sounds like you guys are willing to stick with me on this new adventure. Thank you. I may not say it often enough, but know that I’m thinking it, every single day.

But I also didn’t mean for this silence to be quite as long as it was. With every day that passed, it felt to me like it got louder and louder. And eventually, weeks later, I had to admit to myself that something unexpected had happened.

Announcing those big changes had a side effect… suddenly, I felt self-conscious about this site.

What would my next post be? If it’s not about fashion, then what? Law? Politics? Entertainment? Science? Whatever it was, I felt myself thinking, it needs to be great.

I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist, and I felt that rise up in spades in the last month. The next post I wrote had to be that pitch-perfect, incisive, compelling, magical set of words that would sum up everything I want from this blog.

(And if I couldn’t do that, I might as well just not write anything, right?)

But in thirty-four years on this planet, I’ve realized that that little voice of perfectionism isn’t there to help. It never helps. It makes things harder, every single time.

I realized that so viscerally when I became a mother. It took me a while to realize that Bear didn’t care if I was perfect. He just wanted me to be his mom.

And, you know what? I don’t have to be so darn perfect here either. This post isn’t great. I can already tell! You probably can too. It’s about what’s going on in my mind right at this moment, which is a mix of some lofty ideals and some stress about my ability to accomplish them.

You know… life.

But when I started thinking about it, I realized that’s exactly what I wanted to write about. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to solve modern physics or explain the First Amendment. I just have to be honest and open and here. If I can do that, I’m satisfied.

This post isn’t anything special. It’s a little more scattered and a little less eloquent than I hoped it would be when I started writing.

But it’s something.

And that’s the first step.

→ CommentsTags: life




the shape of things to come…

December 27th, 2015

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What a year this one has been.  I honestly cannot believe it’s December already.  As this year draws to a close, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about this blog, its place in my life, and what blogging means to me. 

This blog has been a huge part of my life for almost a decade.  Over the life of this site, Sugarlaws has received 9.8 million pageviews.  It will hit ten million in a few weeks.  I can hardly wrap my mind around that number.  To the millions of readers who have helped this blog grow: Thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I could say it ten million times, and it wouldn’t be enough.  It has never escaped me for one minute that blogging is a privilege; one that my readers give me every day. 

But lately, my focus hasn’t been on this website.  It took me a while to put my finger on the problem, but when I really thought about it, it was right in front of me. 

In the eight years that I’ve run this blog, it’s been many things.  For the first two years, it was a food blog, detailing how I learned to cook in my first years out of school.  In 2009, I added fashion posts to this site, and suddenly found myself invited to New York Fashion Week, meeting celebrities, doing television appearances, and opening my mailbox almost every day to find new clothes, makeup, and other products.  It went from zero to sixty so quickly that I could barely keep up. 

It was a wild ride.  I got an incredible glimpse into the fashion and beauty industry: an insider’s view.  In the space of a few years, I went from gazing at fashion magazines to watching the shows, meeting the designers, and being part of the narrative that forms the industry.  What an incredible opportunity that was.  It was a dream come true. 

But like everything in life, things started to change.  I moved away from New York, had a baby, started my law practice, and watched the world change over the course of a decade.  Fashion is still a passion of mine, but lately, that passion has ebbed.  I love blogging, but I don’t want to be a fashion blogger anymore.  And in realizing that, I’ve found myself at a bit of a crossroads.  If this blog isn’t a fashion blog, then what is it?

I’m not sure I have an answer for that question yet. 

Nearly a year ago, I wrote an essay in response to a reader question about my career.  My advice was simple: Find something challenging that matters.  Since then, I’ve thought about how that applies to other areas of my life, and the one that I kept coming back to was this site.

I want this blog to be my small corner of the internet, where I can share my thoughts and stories and ideas.  That’s all I’ve ever wanted from this blog.  It just took me a while to realize it. 

2016 is going to bring a lot of changes to this website.  I want to strip everything away from this site until I get back to why I started blogging in the first place.  The layout is going to change.  The topics I write about will change.  The name may even change.  And, starting January 1st, I won’t be taking on any more sponsored posts.  No advertising at all.  I don’t want you guys to buy anything.  I just want you to read. 

2016 is the year I slow down.  It’s the year that I think carefully about this blog and what I want it to be. 

I’m proud of this.  I’m excited for it.  And I hope you are too.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  2016 is almost here.  I, for one, can’t wait.

→ CommentsTags: life · personal




the best piece of wedding advice i received

September 30th, 2015

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Yes, yes, I know, there’s a lot of wedding advice on the internet.  From favors to registries to dress and decor, the internet is chock full of ideas for making your wedding day incredible.

But the best piece of advice I received had nothing to do with my dress or the ceremony.  It wasn’t about the prettiest invitations or the perfect Pinterest-worthy shots for our photographer to capture.

It was this.

The day of our wedding, one of my best girlfriends told me to focus on remembering the day.  To take in the experience, the way that it feels as you live it. 

It sounds really silly, but six years after our wedding, sometimes it’s hard to separate my actual memories from the photographs.  The photographs are mementos that I look through every few months: I could tell you every shot, from the one above (my favorite) to me walking down the aisle with my dad, to the wide-angle scene of our brightly lit tent against the night sky.  The photographs are easy to recall anytime I want; they are permanent.

My memories, though.  Those I worked to capture. 

Everyone always says that your wedding day goes by in a blur, but I worked hard to slow down that blur.  To focus on the moment I was in, instead of getting wrapped up in the excitement of trying to experience everything at once.

Do you know what my favorite memory of our wedding is?

For our first dance, Chad and I picked a slow, romantic song.  We planned to dance by ourselves to that song, and then invite everyone up for the next (faster) song, to get the party going. 

But somehow there was a miscommunication between us and the band, and midway through our slow song, the band invited all our guests to join us on the dance floor in the middle of our first song.  That special moment that was supposed to be just ours?  Suddenly we were packed onto a dance floor with well-wishing guests, following the band’s instructions.

And then, in between the first dance and the next song, while the band took a short break, apparently, someone told them that they’d made a mistake. 

So they decided to fix it. 

By starting the second song (a fast, rock song) and telling our guests not to come onto the dance floor, because Chad and I wanted to dance by ourselves.

Yes, seriously.  In front of a hundred and fifty of our closest friends and family, our band told everyone to stay off the dance floor so Chad and I could dance to a rock song.  By ourselves.

I can’t even type this story without feeling a little mortified.  Chad and I are not dancers — sure, we have fun in big groups and we goof around in the privacy of our own home, but having a hundred and fifty people watch us bop around is the stuff that nightmares are made of. 

But what choice did we have?  We were already standing in the middle of the dance floor.  As the music started, we frantically gestured for everyone to come join us.  The guests were (rightly) confused and stayed firmly in their seats. 

After what felt like an eternity (while I, in my wedding dress, tried to bust out some dance moves), a table of my college friends joined us on the dance floor.  Once they did, the rest of the party followed, and the moment was over.  It turned into a memory, right then and there.

And you want to hear something crazy?  That was the biggest snafu of our wedding: it was both mortifying and completely, unpredictably random.  And it is one of my favorite memories from the whole day.  I can’t tell the story now without cracking up — when one of us is in a bad mood, Chad or I can bring up our first dance and we both fall apart laughing. 

It was mortifying. 

It was amazing. 

It was one of the moments in this life that I’ll never, ever forget.

So, good or bad, my wedding day advice is to remember the experience itself.  To focus on the experience, instead of whether everything is perfect. 

Because, who knows? The imperfections just may become your favorite memories of all.

→ CommentsTags: life




the more things change…

September 25th, 2015

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A few weeks ago, Chad and I were getting rid of a bunch of our old iPhones, and in the process, I stumbled on some photos from a few years ago that I hadn’t seen in a while.  (This one became a #fbf on Instagram, and both Chad and I get a little teary seeing snaps of our sweet dog Calvin, who passed away last year, back when he was healthy.)

And that photo above?  That’s me, in 2013.  It was taken a few weeks before I got pregnant, and in a lot of ways (although I didn’t realize it then), that photo is the “before” to everything that came after. 

In the month after this photo was taken, my whole life changed.  Right around this time, I quit my law firm job to start my own practice.  Two weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant.  I was thrilled and excited about both, but together?  At the same time?  I was blindsided by confusion and uncertainty.  I questioned my decision to quit a job with paid maternity leave (a benefit that far too few women in this country receive) almost every day.  We had a mortgage and a baby on the way, and I’d just taken a stable, well-paid job and tossed it out the window. 

If I had known that I was about to get pregnant, I probably would have talked myself out of taking that leap.  The fear of losing a stable income with a newborn would have been too much.  I would have stayed put, on the track that I was on. 

In a lot of ways, the last few years would have been easier if I’d done that.  But I would have missed out on so much.  All of the excitement and challenge of building my career in the last few years.  All the skills and experience that I’ve gained, but would have been too afraid to reach for.  I would have taken the safer choice, a choice that I thought would have been for the benefit of our son.  But, you know what?  Taking that risk turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. 

Every once in a while, in life, you’re lucky enough to see life changes coming from a mile away.  Most of the time, though, they sneak up on you and hit you out of nowhere.  Only afterwards can you look back and realize that everything suddenly changed. 

And that’s what I see when I look at that photo. 

A girl who was just on the edge of something, with no idea what. 

→ CommentsTags: life · work




the city that never sleeps

September 12th, 2015

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The stars aligned this month for a quick trip to NYC for me — a quiet week at work coincided with an invitation to two events that I didn’t want to miss in the city, so before I could second-guess the decision, I booked a flight. 

{Side note: I’m still trying to figure out when my idea of a “Can’t Miss” event became a fundraising dinner with the dean of my law school…  When did I become such a grown-up?!}

But I was overdue for a trip and this was a great excuse, so I kissed Bear and Chad good-bye for a couple of days and hopped on a plane. 

And oh my gosh, you guys.  New York.  Sometimes I still miss it so much

Every time I go back, it takes me a little bit of time to adjust.  For the first day or so, you have to get used to all the buildings, all the people, all the rushing and hustling and nonstop motion of the city.  It’s a little overwhelming.  It’s also completely amazing.

A while back, I wrote about our decision to leave New York — it was a really hard one for me, because I knew that I wanted the life that we could only have outside the city, but I wasn’t sure I wanted it just yet.  I kept wanting “one ore year” of our life the way it was, our cozy one-bedroom in Greenwich Village where I could walk to my favorite gelato shop or all the way to my office in midtown on a sunny day.  I loved the diversity and the culture and the food and all the amazing things that only emerge when you pack about a million people into a few square miles. 

Yes, it was expensive and exhausting and challenging every day.  No, I didn’t mind one bit. 

But if there’s one thing that’s almost as good as living in New York, it’s this: visiting New York as a former New Yorker. 

It’s amazing because you can experience the city any way you want.  You can see friends and visit favorite spots and remember exactly what your life was like.  You can walk by your old apartment door or the place you met your husband (ahem, ahem).  New York changes every day, but no matter how long you’re gone, there’s always somewhere to come home to.

But on the flip side, you can also do something else.  You can experience it as a tourist.  And in the four years since we left, that’s the part I’d been missing.  I’ve gone back frequently, but I’ve always had an insane schedule that left me running around from morning till night. 

This time?  I had a whole afternoon off.  A very rare luxury for me, so I wanted to make the most of it.

So I experienced New York as a visitor.  I shopped at Saks and spent too much on sunglasses.  I went to a museum, just to look around.  And then I took myself out for dessert at the Rainbow Room, which is a bar on the top of Rockefeller Center that’s been around since the 30’s.  It probably the most touristy, vacation-er, guidebook-hyped spot in the entire city. 

No native New Yorker would ever show their face there. 

But, you know what?  Although sometimes it makes me a little sad to admit it, I’m not a New Yorker anymore.  And as a visitor, sometimes those tourist-y, guidebook-hyped spots are exactly what you’re craving. 

Sometimes you just want to sit back, and enjoy the view. 

And so I did.

→ CommentsTags: life · travel