Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...my closet makeover...}

I'm certain, when I review this past year, that I will look back on "The Great Purge of 2015" as one of the best things I ever did for myself and for my business.  

(...and I'm not done yet.  But funerals and vacation and life have taken over, as I knew they would when I first decided to purge our "stuff".  So, because I knew that ordinary life would fight against my goal, I made my intentions as firm as possible.  The result?  I got a lot more accomplished than I expected, but less than I wanted to, if that makes sense.  Which means....I succeeded.  Because all big plans turn out that way:  you split the difference between perfection and reality.

 I made a plan, and I stuck with it no matter what...within reason.  Reason says you attend funerals, and you don't forgo vacation plans with your Preacher, just to stay home and keep throwing stuff out.)

One of the areas - trust me, just one - that got purged was my walk-in closet.  And, true to the nature of purging, once I got rid of all the superfluous, and was left with this blissfully clean slate, I was then able to make over the whole space - adding back only those things that support my goals and who I am.

Yeah.  Clothes and spaces can do that.  

Clothes and spaces can absolutely help you crystallize your best intentions, and get clear on where your next glory is.  (We are all going from glory, TO glory.  Because I live in the truth of that, I am always walking the balance-beam of learning from the glory I am presently in, while finding out what my next level of glory is to be.)

I told my besties (which, by the way, I hate that word...and by the way, my besties will always and forever be my church ladies - "Shout out to my Harvest gals!") that I wanted to sell tickets and give tours of my closet.  And so, it is with great, obnoxious enthusiasm that I present you with just one of the results of "The Great Purge of 2015"...my new inspiration closet:

I truly wish I had "before" pictures.

First and most important point:  I went to a modified capsule wardrobe...

...meaning, I took every stitch of every piece of clothing I own, and pared it down to right around 50 seasonal items...including Tshirts and tanks (which are folded and tucked away in drawers).

What this means is, when I began this purge back in late summer, I chose around 50 clothing items to be in my spring/summer capsule.  (Some capsule wardrobe-ers go with 20-something, some go with 30-something.)  Every jacket, every vest, every T-shirt, every pair of jeans, every-everything counts.

I found that it helped me immensely to just go with an arbitrary number, and force myself to pare down to it.  To keep giving away or tossing clothing until I reached under 50 items, I had to go through my shirts, pants, dresses, etc. not once, not twice, but multiple times....and make hard choices.  Do I like this shirt or this shirt best?  Do these pants fit better than these?

Here is what had to go:  whatever wasn't my favorite and best fitting and most reflective of who I really am, right now this moment - which is an artist-entrepreneur...who occasionally has to dress beautifully for art shows and the random hot date.  Other than those occasions, and weddings and funerals, my wardrobe gets to be this casual, semi-bohemian mix of what I like best.

(This week or next, I will have to pull out all my fall/winter clothing, and go through the exact same process...pare it all down to my 50 or so pieces.  It won't be easy, but now that I know how transformational it is to actually have fewer but better choices...I will gladly do it.)

I added back a tiny slipper chair, on clearance at Target.  It was actually meant to be a little girl's chair.  A tiny-tot-chair.  But I've had a couple of months, now, to use it for putting on my shoes, for putting on tights (yes, our weather actually got chilly enough to do that for one, and only one night recently), and for prayer.  And I am in love with the idea of having a tiny chair in one's closet.

If you can at all fit one in your closet....do it.

I added a small sheepskin rug.  Clearanced at my local Ross for under $10.

I added a watercolor sign that spoke to my heart.

I took all my earrings out of the plastic ice trays they were in (!!) and purchased two $7 velvet compartment trays from Hobby Lobby (using my coupon).

...the tiny "Paris" tin was a gift from a dear prayer-partner friend, who just so happens to know that I dream of going to Paris, while not actually wanting to go to Paris.  Travel isn't my thing...but beautiful places are still fun to dream about.  She filled that tin with images of Paris...

...and, of course, no closet is complete without a few of the pebbles you have written on, over the years.

Last, but totally not least, I added a...

...gold-and-crystal chandelier.

Oh my dear, sweet heavenly goodness.  It was a complete splurge.

And so worth it.

When this most intimate of spaces was complete, I shut the door (said door finally has a full length mirror on it.  I had to choose between all my shoes, keeping only those that are the "hardest workers", giving away the rest - so I could ditch the behind-the-door ugly shoe rack, and replace it with a full length mirror):

...I shut this door, sat down on the tiny-tot chair...

...and cried my eyes out.

See, this closet was built just for me, way back in 2004.  We renovated our house, and I got the walk-in-closet I had always wanted.

And it took me over ten years to make it special.

And all total, I know it didn't cost me $200 to create something that will bless me every single morning and night for many years to come.  It took me ten years to decide I was worth the investment.

People.  I told you.  Self-care is not my superpower.  And that might be the understatement of 2015.

I immediately texted my daughters (don't judge...it's the new millennium, and its how everyone rolls) and admonished them, "Do as your mother says, don't do as she does.  Self care matters."

And now...as we leave my closet (where I now want to live)...the first thing you see is my inspiration wall - which is an instigator and has been a huge part of every level of glory I have hit in the last 3 years:

Wearing your praise matters.  When you are well put together, and the effort to be well put together no longer takes a ton of time, or too many decisions (we all only have so much mental bandwidth) - we are more likely to say "YES" to things that matter.

I am more likely to say "YES" to a mentoring breakfast, when I know my clothes are ready for me to jump into.

I am more likely to say "YES" to eating out with Tim at someplace besides O'Charley's, when I can take one look inside a beautiful space, and choose something a little more special to wear...and it is pressed and waiting for me.

Simple issues of self care and self respect.

And I hope you are better at all of these things than I am.  I'm still a work in progress, but I'm happy to share my reality with you.  Thanks for listening.

Is your most intimate of spaces - your closet - a special space?  Even if all you have is a tiny closet (that is all I had for almost 20 years) you can scale down and pare back and make it special.

How are you at self care?

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {#rockyourreaders...a collaboration with Readers.com}

I told y'all that #wearyourpraise is a thing.

You see, friends, I've been...contacted.  Yes.  That's it.  I've been contacted.  I received an email asking me if I was interested in an affiliate post, in exchange for product.

Wouldn't you know it, my very-very first really true affiliate post is with (drumroll...)


Stop laughing, because you are about to be jealous.

Given, this wasn't totally out of the blue.  I heart Readers.com, and that's never been a secret.  I have declared my bifocal reader love to the world, in several earlier posts.  But I had to buy the bifocals first. So you can imagine my excitement, in getting a few pair to enjoy at no charge...

...if I'd just blog about them.

This is big, y'all.

I really truly wear my bifocal readers every day of my life.  Why bifocal readers?  Two reasons:

1.  Glasses are a fashion statement all by themselves.  This makes me feel lucky to need readers.  People who don't need eyeglasses are wearing fake glasses.  And if you do need glasses, and you are wearing contacts...well...you and I can't be friends.

Just kidding.  But seriously, consider wearing glasses like any other fashion accessory - and get more than one pair.  A girl needs several pairs, to match her outfit or her mood.

And hey...if this article by THE Sartorialist can't convince you to get on the glasses train...I can't help you.

I told you you'd be jealous.  Wearing glasses is a beautiful thing.

Reason number 2 I wear bifocal readers every day:  Back before I discovered bifocal readers, I was continually losing my regular readers.  My only recourse was either go bifocal, or buy a chain to attach my readers to, and hang them around my neck.

Um.  Ain't gonna happen.

Because, even though I am a granny, I can't wear my readers on a chain like a granny.  Because I want my grandkids to be able to wear shirts like this:

And if I wear my readers on a chain, that can't happen.

I'm excited to share a few styles of readers with you, and chat just a little bit about glasses in general.

First up, is the Ivy League bifocal

...I wear these when I'm feeling intellectual.  Which is every day, almost.

Next, are my all-time favorites, the Elwood bifocal, with a tortoise frame:

No lie, I feel pretty in these specs and this dress.  And that's what "wear your praise Wednesday" is about.  Here's another mood:

Next, when you are in a fun-loving state of mind:

(I wore these with my orange T-shirt this past Saturday...thinking it would be good luck for my team, the Tennessee Volunteers.  Alas.)

I requested these specifically.  I wanted them, because white-rimmed eyeglasses are trending hard right now, as evidenced by my new friend, the adorable Gabi Blair of Design Mom:

(My home was featured on her informative, award winning design blog this past year!)

Diverting just a minute to sunglasses, I also love these:

The "Iris" bifocal sunglasses.  I refuse to wear any other bifocal sunglasses for now.  These win.  Hands down....er...hands up...and peace out.

Last but not least, when I want my glasses to be cute, but understated, I go with these "Indiana" bifocals:

Once in awhile, I may be in an every-day-ish, understated sort of mood, but don't be fooled.  My glasses may be understated, but my heart still wants to wear its praise and live loudly.

(For more on how #wearyourpraise Wednesday got started, click here)

I'm excited to be able to offer my friends and readers (ar, ar...no pun intended) a 20% discount on any pair of readers on Readers.com's  website.  The coupon code is "sheila".

Have fun looking!  If you order something cute, please send me a picture of you in your readers...or share it to Instagram with the hashtag #rockyourreaders and #sheilaatchleydesigns.  I'd love to see you rocking your readers, and perhaps even share your picture here on the blog!

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...too busy to shoot myself...}

Hiiiiiiii there, girlfriends (and the occasional guy!)...

...around here there has been an unexpected and entirely tragic funeral in our church family, an impending overnight guest,  a big-time video shoot with the beautiful Elisa Trentham of Sherwood Media for my part as an "extra" in Jeanne Oliver's new online course "Art of Home || Modern Simple Living".

(You can sign up here )

And so, I've been too busy to shoot myself.

But never fear, I won't leave you hanging.  I have two fabulous links to two fashion articles, both looking ahead into the fall season.

Top 15 Fall Trends - by the team over at StitchFix

(Which, by the way, I did keep a pair of jeans that came with my "fix" this month.  I had two credits, and that brought the price down to irresistible proportions.  Will share soon!)

And Fashion Rules You Should Resolve to Break - I chose this one, because it explodes the myth of "no white after Labor Day".

Finally, I was in Target today to pick up some beach essentials (South Carolina here we come!) and happened upon this:

(That's not me up there.)

Anyhoo, it struck me that this, surely was a Beach Essential.

So I snagged it on sale.

That is me up there.

In my closet, where I now live.  Thuggin' for the iphone camera.  Making time - just for you - to shoot myself.  See the tags??

The.  Things.  I.  Do.  For.  You.

Art of Home || Modern Simple Living {...video lessons on the Home Arts...}

I was recently asked to be one of the presenters in the online course "Art of Home || Modern Simple Living". Here is a description of the course:

Art of Home | Modern Simple Living will be about some of the lost arts of caring for our home and family.

Each week will contain step by step videos with decorating, cooking, gardening, entertaining, housekeeping and more...so much more!

The following will be shared:  The Art of Farm to Table, The Art of Gathering, The Art of Domestic Moxie and The Art of Reclaimed Style.

This four week course is your favorite home and cooking magazines come to life!

...and here the trailer for the course:

AoH 01 trailer from Revilo Designs on Vimeo.

Because of a very, very packed schedule in recent days, and an upcoming vacation, today was the only day I had available to shoot my segment (a lesson on home canning).

I couldn't have pulled it off by myself on such short notice.  I knew I had to have professional help. So I called on Sherwood Media and its owner/founder Elisa Trentham.

She flat-out delivered.  Here are a couple of peeks behind-the-scenes:

That's Elisa, you see there in my mirror.  I'm not that skinny.  Hashtag sadbuttrue and when you sign up for this course, you'll see...

...but I'm trying to be okay with that.  "I love how video adds at least 10 pounds to a woman's frame"...

...said no woman in the history of ever.

Titus 2 tells us that the "older women" should teach the younger women - and since my nest is empty, since I've raised and launched four arrows into the world, since I now have 5 grandbabies, since I have lived, breathed, and loved all things home and hospitality for almost 30 years, through thick, thin, lesson plans, phonics, basketball games, graduation,  two Marine boot camps and two Parris Island graduations, heart ache, heartbreak, and every possible scenario...

...since I am, even as I run a creative art business, still a passionate home maker in every sense of the word, I feel kind of qualified to teach.

It's important that you don't just take my word for any of this. Everybody's cooler online.  Ask my husband - ask my daughters - ask my friends how I tend and tenderly love my people and my home, as creatively as I can.  I don't do everything perfectly, but it gets done.

Who says you can only do one thing at a time?  In fact, I feel that running a creative business while still doing my own cleaning, still cooking, still gardening, still practicing hospitality and managing a thriving home - that is part of what allows me to truly own the role of home maker as part of my ministry in my empty nest season.

Because of all the above, and the fact that I'll be fifty next year, I finally feel kind of qualified to teach.  I say "kind of" because I'm an avid student, and plan on learning till I die.  So there's that part of me that is qualified to teach, but there is this huge, huge part of me that just wants to learn all I can.

Speaking of can...(it's a bad segue, but it's all I got).

Would you like to take the mystery out of the canning process?  Because that is my contribution to this course.  I am going to take the angst and the worry out of using an old fashioned pressure canner - no fancy expensive electric one is used.

And I use real tomatoes.

All this, and Jesus too.

No, seriously, I also take a few minutes to share with you my heart behind all this home making.

It's a Titus 2 heart that God put in me at the age of 20, and I still have it today.  I've lived my whole life for one thing:  to be qualified, when the season of "older woman" finally arrived, to share the Gospel with women of all ages.

Join me?

The cost of the entire course is $64.99, and you get lifetime access to four weeks (many, many instructional and inspirational) videos of wisdom and beauty!

Here is the link, where you can sign up:

So do you do any canning?  What do you grow?  What do you can?  We eat all we can, and what we can't eat, we can.

It's a bad joke, but it's all I got.  Cut me some slack...my schedule is brutal this week...but after that...

...it'll be a few blissful days in Margeritaville.  I can hear the waves already...

Feed Your People Well {...my latest mixed media original is available...}

My newest original, styled in my own kitchen ...

This is a wood canvas 10"x10" mixed media original entitled "Feed Your People". It was rendered in acrylic, willow stick, charcoal, ink, and pastel. My inspiration was drawn from every unsung hero-mom (or dad!) who sets the table lovingly, and cooks for her or his people.

It's a daily, sometimes difficult act of selflessness. And it is one of the most important jobs on the planet, because the saying is truth: "One cannot live well unless one has dined well."

This piece is $150, plus FREE shipping for the next 48 hours. I always offer free shipping on pieces on which the paint hasn't quite even dried. Because if you grab it quick, it saves me a lot of work - photographing my art properly and posting it to my online shop is not a fast-and-easy process.

Contact me if you're ready to give this piece a good home and get in on the free shipping! Once it goes up in my shop, free shipping goes away.

What is "Cheap Grace"...really?

(Vincent Van Gogh's "Weeping Woman")

My favorite blogger Ann Voskamp, over at A Holy Experience, hit another home run with her recent post entitled "You Know They're Laughing At Us, Right?"

I also weep over the Creflo Dollars of the pop-Christian-culture...and the Josh Duggars of the fundamentalist-legalist-Christian sub-culture...and the Tullian Tchividjians of the grace-Christian camp...and I applaud and appreciate Voskamp's willingness to name names.

The great apostle Paul named names.  And so must we.  Carefully.  With many tears.

I would only add one thing to Ann's post - and it feels like wild presumption to even think I could add to the thoughts of one of our day's finest writers - but in her recent post she said:

"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

I couldn't agree more.  And here is what I would add:

Cheap grace is grace without local church.  Cheap grace is grace without true community.

Where else is repentance required and lived out, if not in the context of community?  Where else does church discipline take place, but in church?  Who do we confess our sins to, if not to a safe community of believers?  Where else is discipleship fleshed out, the cross made vivid, wolves in sheep clothing called by their name, and the flock of God guarded, and where else can Christ be incarnated?

Nowhere else but the church.  

All these things - repentance, church discipline, confession, incarnation - do not find their full expression within one person, or within a small group of favorite people who think like me, or within a business.  They don't find full and robust expression even in one family.  "Family church" can be a smokescreen to avoid the pain of real, true, flawed, diverse, beautiful local church.  To avoid church community is to live in such a way as to never have to extend grace to anyone but "me and mine".

Living like a lone ranger is cheap grace.

When I hear someone refer to "cheap grace", or "easy believe-ism", I laugh. I've read (and love) all of Bonhoeffer's works, and I get what he meant, when he coined the term "cheap grace" from a prison cell, living in close community amongst a diversity of men, suffering for the sake of Christ.

But can we, with authority, use those words unless we are likewise living in community as Bonhoeffer did?  Some who use the words "cheap grace", are using them to look down their nose at someone else...or to take someone else's theology down a peg or two.  No one who bandies those words for those reasons have actually understood the grace of God - because it can't be comprehended outside the gritty community of imperfect local church...a place often filled with prodigals in various stages of return.  

That's why repentance and confession must be preached and incarnated before the eyes of our watching community, right alongside justification and grace.  That's why I appreciate Voskamp's use of the term "cheap grace" - her context is spot-on.

Grace is mere concept to the rugged Christian individualist, that is why they think it can be cheapened. When you "live of the gospel", when you live in right relationship to others, nothing is more costly or more difficult in life than to earnestly look for the good, to "keep yourself in the love of God". (Jude)

Far from being "cheap", the truth of grace will cost you more than you ever thought you could pay, and stretch your faith beyond where you thought you could go.

Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...neutrals go with neutrals go with neutrals - transitioning into fall...}

(In advance...a grateful "thanks" for pinning...)

...this morning, even as I type this post for tomorrow, fall is in the air.

Fall used to be my favorite season.  Now it is my second favorite, and that's still something.

I will miss summer, but I will also love transitioning into my fall clothing.  So today, I want to tell you something you already know, deep down:  a neutral goes with a neutral, goes with a neutral.  Here is a list of the neutral colors that have made it into my capsule wardrobe (and yes!  I've gone to a capsule wardrobe - more about that in another Wear Your Praise Wednesday post...along with pictures of my beautiful closet - which I used to hate, and now want to live in...)

olive green
white or cream

That's it.  Any combination of those neutrals (or any other neutral palette, such as navy, khaki, red, and cream), you can pile them on this fall, as many as you like even in one outfit, and you won't go wrong.  Even if you combine neutral patterns.  And that, girlfriends, is also another post for another day.  If you ever wanted to dabble in combining patterns...as in, on your body....we, the over 40 crowd, can do it if we stick to neutral patterns.  (Think black and white stripes with a leopard print jacket or shoe).

Here, I've gone with those Wal-Mart bermudas in black, and I shifted my artisan belt buckle off to the side on purpose.  Because it interests me.  And because I love the two rhinestone rivets, with the word "fly" stamped beside them.  I've combined the shorts and belt with a new Old Navy long sleeve boyfriend T.  (And oh my dear sweet goodness...run, don't walk, run to Old Navy and get you some.  Boyfriend T-shirts, not boyfriends.  Mmmmm-kay?)

Comfy, baggy, cozy sweetness that you can do the "half tuck" with.  Or the "mullet tuck".  (Business in the front, party in the back...)

The point is, combine your neutrals - throw on black on black on brown on black without worrying about matching.  Throw on your black with brown shoes and a brown belt...and if your big hair bothers you...

Put on a neutral hat.  Not blue.  Not green.  Not red (though some say red is a neutral).

Then, take it right back off...

...because sister...the taller the hair, the closer to God.

Here, I've piled on yet another neutral layer.  This olive colored vest from Target was on sale at my store, and I felt like I stole it, it was so cheap.

I can't find it on the website anymore, so I went to Amazon, and found almost the exact same thing here - and I chose the most inexpensive one.  You're welcome.  (This site is not monetized.  My links are purely hard work and a courtesy.  I do not (yet) get anything at all, if you click and buy something.)

One reason why this vest is my favorite layer (I wear it with daggum near everything) is that it has pockets for my iphone.

I weep.

I used to be so old-school.  Now I am a technology snob.  "Dear Santa, I want it all."

"I like big hair, and I cannot lie."

Girl, I say rock the big hair, and rock the big whate'r else your momma gave ya.  Because beauty is not about size or age or any such thing.

That's true.

You know it is.  And if you don't know it, I will make it one of my life's goals to convince you.

If you want to keep your complexes, you better bail on me now, because #wearyourpraise
is a thing.

It is taking off, friends, and I am driving the bus.  My way or the highway - so start feeling beautiful in middle age, or I will stop this bus and fuss.

Or something.

In summary:

Belt (my design)
Necklace (my design - this is a different design, but same length)