The Power of Reflection: Bringing the Unconscious into the Light

By: Alana Karran

Days filled with endless tasks and deadlines often leave little time for quiet. Yet, it is in these rare moments of stillness that change becomes possible. Taking time to reflect on the day, the week, the year, can offer opportunities for personal and professional learning and growth. It can also stop the cycle of anxiety, reactivity and panic that comes from a problem-focused mindset.

Reflection sometimes begins with pain. Things are not going as planned. Life has become a series of frustrating experiences. Your words and actions are not having the impact you expected. You don’t feel fulfilled. Life holds little meaning. “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful,” states author, professor and organizational development expert Margaret Wheatley.

Taking a moment to stop and consciously reflect on what is happening helps you become present, instead of functioning on autopilot. Reflection is an active process. It requires a desire for deeper understanding and clarity. Consider using this six-step process* to start a practice of reflection and garner its benefits:

Where Am I Right Now?

Reflection starts with presence. Take a really deep breath and let it out. Now take another. Feel the oxygen filling up your lungs and circulating throughout your body. Exhale all of the things you are juggling in your mind. Where are you? Notice your surroundings, the sounds, the colors, the light. Gently scan your body. Notice the places of tightness, pain or discomfort. Breathe some space into these areas. Tighten every muscle in your body. Now let go and allow yourself to relax into this moment.

How Do I Feel in This Moment?

Emotions are the gatekeepers of reflection. Allow yourself to feel what is present here. What is your body wanting to tell you? What feelings are being held inside the places of tightness, pain or discomfort? What do those feelings represent? How will you simply notice, without blame or judgment, what you are feeling?

What Am I Experiencing?

Reflect on the story you are telling about your experience. What impact are your thoughts having on your experience? What impact are your behaviors having on your experience? When have you felt this way before? What series of events has brought you to having this experience?

How Is It Serving Me?

The key to reflection is bringing the unconscious into the light. What are you getting out of your current experience? How is it benefiting you? What are you not getting out of your experience? How is it not meeting your needs? Consider other times you have been in a similar experience. What was the outcome? How would you like it to be different this time?

What Do I Need and Desire?

Reflection allows for deeper understanding of your needs and desires. What do you really need? How are you going about getting that need met in this experience? What would it look like to ask for what you need with clarity? How will this shift your experience? What strong desire is being represented in this experience? How will you articulate that desire as a clear request?

What’s Possible from Here?

Change is possible when reflection opens to possibility. Now that you have identified your feelings, unconscious thoughts and behaviors, and needs and desires, you have the opportunity to shift your experience. What wants to change? What thoughts will support that change? What behaviors will support that change? How will you show up with clarity? What requests will you make of others?

Reflecting for personal understanding and clarity helps you identify underlying feelings and motivations. It helps you see how the stories you are telling about your experience shape the outcome.

*The Empathy Round

Take reflection one step further to understand the possible experiences of others. Use the above questions and turn them around to consider how others might be feeling, thinking or behaving in a situation. What underlying needs and desires might they be attempting to satisfy? How will you find more compassion for them, as a result of reflecting on their possible story? What assumptions are you making about them? How will you let those assumptions go and show up fully in the relationship? What conversation are you willing to have with others to clarify what they really need and desire?

Reflecting on your story and the story of others has the ability to bring the unconscious into the light. By doing so, more understanding and clarity is possible and learning and growth can occur. Reflection allows for more meaning in your personal experiences and relationships with others.


Sources:

http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree

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8 Holiday Hacks to Keep You on Track

By: Sarah Bamber

The holiday season is upon us, and as usual, it feels like we are eating in excess, exercising less, spending more money, and busier than ever before. I was recently introduced to the social media term “hacks” which refers to a clever solution to a tricky problem. When someone told me to take my snow shovel out of my car the night before it snows to avoid snow falling into the car in the morning… I was simply amazed at such an easy idea! I realized there were many healthy holiday hacks out there waiting to be followed. Here are some of my favourite to keep you healthy and feeling great over the holiday season.

Don’t beat yourself up if you slip: At the end of the day the holidays are meant to be enjoyed, so don’t let a slip in exercise or healthy eating get you down. Remind yourself of your health goals and remember that every day is a new day to get back on track. Stay positive and enjoy your time with family and friends.

Quick and intense workout: 20 minutes of intense interval training burns more fat in a shorter time than steady-state exercise. If you are struggling for time to exercise, get in a quick and intense training session to keep fit. Look into HIIT exercises, or check out the 8fit app for great workout ideas. Check out the links below for a great start.

http://dailyburn.com/life/db/hiit-workouts-for-beginners/
https://8fit.com

Fuel up: If you are meeting for dinners or events, don’t have the attitude to hold out on eating all day long to reduce caloric intake. Remember that protein and fibre packed smaller meals throughout the day will keep you feeling full and satisfied, allowing you eat smaller portions of what is often more fat and sugar-filled foods.

Probiotics: We often take probiotics to aid digestion, but they are also beneficial for skin health and to prevent colds. Probiotics can also help boost mood and keep you feeling your best this holiday season. Check out the Nutritional Fundamentals of Health website for a great probiotic to add to your diet this holiday season.

http://www.nfh.ca/products.asp?id=168

Cinnamon: This spice is often used in many holiday drinks and eats and will also lower blood sugar levels. Look for recipes that include cinnamon to add a healthy kick to your meals and drinks.

Detox teas: Detox teas are great to sip on during the day and help flush your system from the excess alcohol often consumed and unhealthy eats. Examples of herbal teas include green tea, dandelion root tea, ginger root tea and senna tea.

Three bite rule: How often have you ate something that tastes really good, felt full, but continued to indulge until you feel stuffed? This holiday season, try the three bite rule to satisfy your cravings and let you indulge without going overboard.

Recreate Your Sleep Environment: We often find ourselves sleeping at family’s house over the holidays whether it’s on a bed, pull out couch or air mattress. Try to recreate how you normally sleep for a restful sleep which includes bringing your pillow, sleeping in the same position you normally do at home, keeping the room dark, and noise to a minimum. Remember that ear plugs and an eye mask may be simple carry on options to help in unfamiliar sleep environments.

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Beautiful Skin From The Inside Out

By Kathryn Jacob Pollard, MS.

Plant-Based Practice:  

For the loveliest skin our body can produce, eat a variety of colorful vegetables every day. Add raw and cooked. Don’t sweat over how much, just add them at every meal and as snacks.

I am often complimented about my smooth and creamy skin. This is notable because my skin is presently 58 years old, and I have lived through a bit of teenage acne in my past. My personal insurance policy against damaged skin and wrinkles is eating green leafy veggies along with other colorful vegetables and fruits every day. It is the antioxidants from these plant foods that fight cell damage by protecting them from toxins, and damage from unstable metabolites called free radicals.

Free Radicals

Free radicals are generated as byproducts of metabolism, so we produce them in the body naturally, but how much depends on the stresses presented in the body. We don’t want them to build up, as they bump into stuff (other cells) and cause damage.1 Think of them as active rust in cells and tissues. They can start a series of reactions contributing to aging.

The good news is that they can be terminated by antioxidants. Removing free radicals is important in preventing cell destruction or damage to DNA, which can lead to mutations and breakages that may result in cell damage as well as cancer growth or other diseases (including cardiovascular disease and diabetes).

Eliminating and disposing of free radicals from the body is accomplished through several mechanisms involving enzymes, (requiring microminerals like iron, zinc, manganese, etc.), paired with antioxidants. These beneficial compounds called antioxidants are the little scavengers of the bloodstream. This is why it is so crucial to have a steady stream of antioxidants and micronutrients delivered to the body in the most complete packages possible, from whole plant foods, (eat raw greens every day!).

Antioxidants

Vitamin C, for instance, serves as a defense against hydroxyl radicals. Vitamin E, being fat-soluble and therefore gravitating towards lipid-rich cell membranes, is especially effective at preventing peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, as are carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene, (think red, yellow, orange produce), which appears to quench singlet molecular oxygen, (more unstable than ground oxygen). These nutrients are antioxidants, and antioxidants tend to work together in scavenging radicals and quenching them – another reason to get them with all of their coenzymes and phytonutrients in whole plants.1

Most people simply don’t know the power of protecting their skin from the inside, by supplying nutrients for protection. Eating healthy, antioxidant rich foods can protect from the damage we put our skin through in life, as well as slow aging of cells and the wrinkles that appear with age.2

Recent Research

A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at diet and skin aging.  After accounting for differences in age, smoking status, BMI, and lifetime sun exposure, there was still a clear link between eating low-fat, plant-based foods and a decrease in wrinkling. Those individuals who ate the most green and yellow vegetables had a significant decrease in their wrinkling score as opposed to those who ate a diet high in saturated fat. 3   Saturated fat is found in much larger quantities in animal-based foods (meat and dairy), oils (any oil, even olive), and processed foods.

Multiple studies have found that dietary antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals such as carotenoids, tocopherols, and flavonoids have demonstrated protection against sun exposed skin damage. 4,5 These substances are found in abundance in plant-based foods.

A class of antioxidants known as anthocyanins found in blueberries and other purple fruit has been shown to reduce the breakdown of collagen due to damage cause by UVB sun light exposure6 [18].

The pomegranate fruit, rich in antioxidants called phenolic compounds has demonstrated a number of beneficial effects on aging skin.  It actually helps thicken the outermost layer (epidermis), as well as the growth of new collagen fibers. It also prevents current collagen fibers from being broken down7 [19].

Green tea has been shown to be protective against ultra-violet radiation induced skin inflammation and damage.  The antioxidant group known as polyphenols are responsible for these beneficial effects in green tea.8

As Micaela Karlsen discusses in her article about Powders, Extracts, Oils, and Juices, you don’t have to try very hard to take in antioxidants; you just need to eat plant foods every day: “When we’re eating a colorful whole-food, plant-based diet, we don’t need to concern ourselves with antioxidant deficiency. It is when we eat a diet poor in fruits and vegetables (and therefore antioxidants) that we need to worry about getting enough of them. Processed foods contain few antioxidants, because they are stripped during processing. And the antioxidants present in animal foods reside in the animal’s tissues only because it consumed plants during its lifetime.

I also drink water throughout the day!


References:

  1. Gropper, Sareen S., Smith, Jack L., Groff, James L., Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing, 2005, p.386, 404, 417.
  2. Bonnefoy M, Drai J, Kostka T. Antioxidants to slow aging, facts and perspectives. Presse Med. 2002 Jul 27;31(25):1174-84.
  3. Nagata C, Nakamura K, Wada K, et al. Association of dietary fat, vegetables and antioxidant micronutrients with skin ageing in Japanese women. Br J Nutr. 2010 May;103(10):1493-8.
  4. Shapira N. Nutritional approach to sun protection: a suggested complement to external strategies. Nutr Rev. 2010 Feb;68(2):75-86.
  5. Sies H, Stahl W. Nutritional protection against skin damage from sunlight. Annu Rev Nutr. 2004;24:173-200.
  6. Bae JY, Lim SS, Kim SJ, et al. Bog blueberry anthocyanins alleviate photoaging in ultraviolet-B irradiation-induced human dermal fibroblasts. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2009 Jun;53(6):726-38.
  7. Aslam MN, Lansky EP, Varani J. Pomegranate as a cosmeceutical source: pomegranate fractions promote proliferation and procollagen synthesis and inhibit matrix metalloproteinase-1 production in human skin cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Feb 20;103(3):311-8.
  8. Katiyar SK, Elmets CA. Green tea polyphenolic antioxidants and skin photoprotection (Review). Int J Oncol. 2001 Jun;18(6):1307-13.

Plant-Based Practice:  For the loveliest skin our body can produce, eat a variety of colorful vegetables every day. Add raw and cooked. Don’t sweat over how much, just add them at every meal and as snacks. – I am often complimented about my smooth and creamy skin. This is notable because my skin is presently 58 years old, and I have lived through a bit of teenage acne in my past. My personal insurance policy against damaged skin and wrinkles is eating green leafy veggies along with other colorful vegetables and fruits every day. It is the antioxidants from these plant foods that fight cell damage by protecting them from toxins, and damage from unstable metabolites called free radicals.

Read the full article here: https://sustainablediet.com/blog/beautiful-skin-inside-out

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Beyond Thankful: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Written By: Alana Karran

Gratitude is a feeling, a choice, an affirmation, a virtue and an action. At its core, gratitude is a deep abiding certainty of connection, abundance and appreciation. And it is a gift that you give in return for receiving the generosity of the universe.

Gratitude asks you to lift your gaze from the mundane tasks of the day and see a broader perspective. Regardless of circumstance or status, wealth, health or happiness, gratitude is available to access in each and every moment. It is a current that resonates through everyone and everything.

An attitude of gratitude requires a degree of humility – a way of understanding that the abundance around you is bigger than you. And that you do not need to do anything, have any perceived value or even be deserving to receive goodness.

In fact, a multitude of studies, including those done by Professor Robert Emmons at the University of California, Davis, show that gratitude actually benefits the grateful individual. A better overall mental outlook is seen in people practicing feelings, affirmations, choices and acts of gratitude. Also, those who practice gratitude use more positive language in their self-talk and conversations with others.

These simple practices will help you cultivate an attitude of gratitude. By making even the smallest choice to see goodness around you, more will be revealed. It creates a ripple effect that may also inspire others to share in the practice.

Make a Gratitude List: This practice can be particularly helpful when you want to shift your attention from what is “going wrong” to what is “going right.” Simply begin making a list of things that you are grateful for in your life. If you are feeling stuck, start with the small, every day things that you might take for granted, like food, shelter and loved ones.

Making a list of things you are grateful for offers you the ability to shift your focus from being a victim of circumstance, to appreciating how many opportunities life provides for celebrating goodness. Practiced every day, making a gratitude list can actually stimulate neuropathways and help you more quickly make connections to grateful thinking. When you focus on gratitude, you see more reasons to be grateful and feel increasingly more gratitude.

Send Notes of Gratitude: Acknowledging others for their kindness, generosity or just presence in your life is an affirming practice of gratitude. By looking beyond yourself and noticing all the ways others contribute to your life, you develop healthy bonding with others and learn to experience more empathy.

By letting others know you are grateful for them, you also give them a gift of joyfully accepting their offerings and honoring their contribution. Expressing gratitude generates connection and activates feel-good hormones in both the giver and receiver.

Pay Gratitude Forward: Having an attitude of gratitude means understanding how innately abundant you are. By sharing your abundance with others, you inspire them to also practice gratitude. When you receive a gift that is more than enough for your own needs, consider gifting a portion of it to someone else. Or look around you and notice if there are things that you have in excess that might benefit someone without those particular items.

Giving to others, in the spirit of gratitude, can also be an act of service. Studies show that people who practice selfless acts of service, experience more meaning in their lives. By focusing on others and their needs, you learn to appreciate even more of what life has to offer.

Inquiries on Gratitude:

  • How will you practice gratitude, regardless of your current circumstances?
  • How will you honor and acknowledge others for their contributions to your life?
  • In what ways will you pay gratitude forward as an act of service?

 

A Practical Action Step for Gratitude:

Send at least one gratitude note today, to someone in your life who has shown kindness and generosity. Here’s a link to an ecard option: https://gratefulness.org/connect/send-an-e-card/

Sources:

http://gratefulness.org/resource/what-is-gratitude/

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/gratitude/definition#why_practice

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288932385_The_effects_of_gratitude_expression_on_neural_activity

https://www.chriswinfield.com/gratitude-lists/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/emily-fletcher/the-neuroscience-of-gratitude_b_8631392.html

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Signs & Tips for Preventing a UTI

If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you’re likely familiar with the uncomfortable and painful symptoms that accompany it – the constant urge to urinate and an unbearable burning sensation down below. If that’s the case, then you’d probably do anything to avoid contracting another. Here are some tips on how to identify urinary tract infections and prevent them from happening to you!

Urinary tract infections, also known as UTIs, are extremely common among women. The average woman has a 50% of getting a UTI at some point in their lives and some women are more prone to developing them on a repeated basis. Unfortunately, this can become more prevalent as a woman ages since the decrease in estrogen makes the urinary tract more vulnerable to infection.

UTIs are bacterial infections of mainly the bladder and urethra, but can also affect your kidneys. UTIs are usually caused by E. coli, but other bacteria can cause an infection. It can get progressively worse if the infection is allowed to reach the kidneys, so it’s important to immediately contact a medical professional if you suspect you have one. If you have a UTI you may experience these symptoms:

A burning sensation whenever you urinate
A frequent urge to urinate
Pain/pressure in the pelvis or pain
Your urine appears cloudy
Urine appears red, which indicates blood may be present
Fever/chills for infections reaching the kidneys

If you believe you have a UTI, the best course of action is to see a doctor immediately. They will prescribe antibiotics and possibly something to deal with the pain and discomfort. Also avoid drinks that can aggravate the urinary system such as coffee, alcohol, orange juice, and sodas.

Obviously, you are asking yourself… how can you prevent such a miserable situation in the first place? Here are some tips for doing just that:

Urinate whenever you feel the urge to so and always make sure you empty your bladder entirely. Doing this will flush out bacteria and decrease your risk.
Drink lots of water. While this is something you should be doing already; drinking water helps in two ways. First it dilutes the urine and second it makes certain you urinate more regularly. Both of these actions help flush out bacteria.
Avoid hygiene sprays, scented douches and scented bath products since they can cause irritation.
Urinate immediately after sex to flush out any bacteria.
Wear underwear and pants that allow that area to breathe. Tight fitting clothes can lead to excess moisture and trap heat. That creates an ideal place for bacteria to grow and multiply.

We hope you find these tips helpful! Remember to stay well hydrated throughout the day, especially during the holiday months when you may be consuming excess alcohol. After finishing your course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor or medical professional to treat a UTI, consume probiotic drinks and foods to increase the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut. Good luck and stay healthy!


Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/your-guide-urinary-tract-infections#1

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447

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Study Finds Men More Likely To Receive CPR Than Women If They Experience Cardiac Arrest in Public

 

Article Source: The New York Times

The New York Times reported on a study presented at the American Heart Association meeting finding that “outside of hospitals, men are much more likely to get CPR than women.” The study was based on “a database of 19,331 cardiac arrests in the United States and Canada,” excluding those “witnessed by emergency personnel or that occurred in health care facilities.”

The researchers found that among those who had an arrest at home, “there was no difference between the sexes,” while for those who had an arrest in public, men were more likely than women to receive CPR, at 45 percent to 39 percent, respectively. Lead author Audrey L. Blewer of the University of Pennsylvania said, “A male chest is different from a female chest, and there may be barriers to CPR delivery in public.” Blewer added, “We need to better understand what these barriers are in order to inform training and public messaging about CPR.”

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/well/live/men-more-likely-than-women-to-get-cpr.html

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Coffee May Be More Likely To Provide Benefits Than Harm!

Reuters reported researchers found that “people who drink three to four cups of coffee a day are more likely to see health benefits than harm,” according to findings published in the British Medical Journal.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the researchers also found that people who drink three to four cups per day appear to be at lower risk for “diabetes, liver disease, dementia and some cancers,” including endometrial, liver, prostate, and skin. The researchers “examined 201 observational studies analyzing the health of coffee drinkers.”

Forbes reported the researchers also found that coffee consumption was linked to lower risk for Parkinson’s disease, metabolic syndrome, kidney stones, and gout.

The Telegraph (UK) reported the researchers found that drinking up to seven cups of coffee per day was linked to a lower risk of early death.

Read more here: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coffee/three-coffees-a-day-linked-to-more-health-than-harm-study-idUSKBN1DM2Y6

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New Guidelines Lower Definition of High Blood Pressure

Image Source: Healthline

Original Source: The Washington Post

Leading heart health experts tightened the guidelines for high blood pressure Monday, a change that will sharply increase the number of U.S. adults considered hypertensive in the hope that they, and their doctors, will address the deadly condition sooner.

The American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other groups redefined high blood pressure as a reading of 130 over 80, down from 140 over 90. The change, the first in 14 years, means that 46 percent of U.S. adults, many of them under the age of 45, now will be considered hypertensive. Under the previous guideline, 32 percent of U.S. adults had high blood pressure.

“We’re recognizing that blood pressures that we in the past thought were normal or so-called pre-hypertensive actually placed the patient at significant risk for heart disease and death and disability,” said Robert M. Carey, co-chairman of the group that produced the new report. “The risk hasn’t changed. What’s changed is our recognition of the risk.”

Read the full article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/11/13/blood-pressure-of-130-is-the-new-high-according-to-first-update-of-guidelines-in-14-years/?utm_term=.5afdc9902e91

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People Who Regularly Consume Nuts May Be Less Likely To Develop Heart Disease

Image Source: HuffingtonPost

Source: Reuters Health

People who regularly eat a variety of nuts including walnuts, peanuts and tree nuts may be less likely to develop heart disease than individuals who rarely or never eat nuts, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined information on medical history, lifestyle and eating habits for more than 210,000 healthcare workers. During an average follow-up of more than two decades, 14,136 people developed cardiovascular disease, including 8,390 coronary heart disease cases and 5,910 strokes.

Compared to people who rarely, if ever, ate nuts, people who had one 28-gram serving of nuts at least five times a week were 14% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 20% less likely to develop coronary heart disease, the study found.

“Consuming a variety of nuts at least a few times per week is beneficial to lowering risk of cardiovascular disease,” said senior study author Shilpa Bhupathiraju, a nutrition researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.


Read the full article here: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-heart-diet-nuts/variety-of-nuts-tied-to-lower-risk-of-heart-disease-idUSKBN1DD2EB

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2017 Fall & Winter Fashion Trends!

It is almost time to pull out our parkas but always a good time to look stylish – even if it is under many, many layers. Wondering what you can do to keep your wardrobe current this season? Read on for my top 5 trends for Fall/Winter 2017.

TREND 1: Seeing Red

Beyond a doubt, the colour red dominated the fall/winter runways. whether its red lipstick, nails or a full on suit – you can’t go wrong by adding this hue to your regular rotation. While fire-engine red is the most on trend, it is far more important to select the most flattering shade for you and go for it. For those looking to make a big statement, head to toe red is the way to go.

TREND 2: Victorian Details

Ruffles, lace and frills whether worn on their own or layered under a blazer or sweater are bang on for this season. What to watch for: the Victorian collar. I consider this detail to be the lady-like version of the turtleneck. It may have a volume (created by ruffles or pleats) and should sit relatively flat against your neck without rolling (like a turtleneck). It is easier to wear this detail on a blouse rather than, say, a dress which will have a much more dramatic effect.

TREND 3: Sporty Chic

As the years have gone by, athleisure has become more ingrained in everyday fashion. This season, look for athletic wear disguised as everyday wear. From pants with double stripe accents, to lace sweatshirts and work appropriate pants that feel like loungewear, this season your athletic-inspired pieces will be the items you can’t wait to get into for a long day of work or play.

TREND 4: Velvet

Velvet is a trend that tries to make a come back each winter but is not always invited to the party. This year, they are the guest of honour as velvet has taken a front seat. Everything from blazers to accessories can be found in this cozy fabric. While deep jewel-like tones (and black, of course) will always be on trend at this time of year, this year bright pops of orange or pink velvet are vying for centre stage.

TREND 5: Florals

While dark florals are always appropriate at this time of year, in 2017 they are being offered up alongside a host of retro-inspired florals that you may recognize from your grandma’s couch. If you are ready to move beyond pairing your prints with neutral solids, branch out into textured fabrics to add some interest to your outfit.

Happy Shopping!

Kim England

Photo courtesy of Viva Glam Magazine

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