The Aftermath: This is All That’s Left.

this-is-all-thats-left-announcement-chic-stealsThis has been an enormously difficult post to write, and I have struggled for many, many months over what to write. What not to say, what to reveal, whether I should, whether I shouldn’t.

I have been hinting numerous times over the past year that something awful has been happening in my life, something personal that threatens everything I know and love. This is what happened in 2014:

On May 12, 2014, my husband for 10 years, partner for 14 (all of my 20’s and half of my 30’s), person who I wrote about my love for and commitment to in this post on our anniversary, and father to our dear 8-year-old son, left us in order to move in with his affair partner.

This was someone who he should absolutely not have been involved with in any way (regardless of the violation of our marriage vows and our trust in him and all that) – but it was someone who both professionally and legally he had absolutely no business being involved with at all.

It blindsided and absolutely devastated me.

There had been hints of difficulties leading up to him walking out; he had expressed being unhappy but wouldn’t cite what it was exactly that was wrong. I had been struggling for 4 years with being hypothyroid and being overwhelmed with the symptoms of endocrine system collapse in 2013, and had tried to getting healthy the priority for some time. I had not paid enough attention to him, he said, I had made him feel like I did not care. I had been focused on eating right, exercising, and trying to get a job so I could build a career and help support our family.

I worked as hard as I could once he expressed this to me to fix our relationship, to make him the number one priority, and to show my feelings for him. He responded by becoming increasingly withdrawn and angry even over the smallest thing, putting me down in front of our son and saying nasty things to me, and “working” longer hours.

When I found out that he had only been working an average of 11 hours a week and had instead been spending the remainder of his time elsewhere with someone else doing certain things – and the horrific details of what he had done, it was the worst shock I ever had in my life.

I could not eat or keep food down, I could not sleep more than a couple hours a night due to anxiety, stress, and shock. I lost 7 pounds in the first 10 days. Everything I ate came up again. I survived on oatmeal for weeks, since it was the only thing I could keep down. I was overwhelmed with panic and anxiety, having no idea what was happening and what was going to happen. I ended up losing 27 pounds total over the next 4 months, having panic attacks in the middle of the night, my heart pounding, unable to draw breath.

In addition to my husband very suddenly leaving, he began levying numerous threats towards us,showing up at the house unexpectedly, coming and going as he pleased, removing possessions in front of our son (whom he told that “Daddy’s job requires me to work a lot of nights, so I’m just staying at a hotel near the airport rather than make the long drive home”). He told me that I had to leave the house, our home, and go live with our son in an apartment. He told me that he would be taking our son to Japan and that I would never see him again. He hid all his wages in a secret bank account so there was no money coming in from him. I couldn’t use any money in our bank account for food or gas to take our son to school, because the mortgage was auto-withdrawn from that bank account and would default that much sooner if I did.

I’d been a stay-at-home mother for 9 years, as required by my husband and his parents, who told me repeatedly over the years that a mother’s place was in the home, raising her child, and that I should not work. I had nothing to survive on except the money I made from this blog. I began selling things on eBay so I could buy food for my son and me, gas to take my son to school, and cover his therapist’s bills. I desperately searched for work, applying to any and everything remotely related to my skills and background, but with no recent work experience or references to vouch for me except those from school, I had very few options. What stay-at-home mother with no recent work experience could go from earning only a couple hundred dollars a month on a part-time blog to instantly earning $50,000 a year?

I begged my husband not to do this, to work on our marriage, to reconcile, to do what was in our son’s best interests. He would not listen, and insisted his own life was his biggest priority.

On August 29, 2014, he filed a petition for dissolution of marriage with the Oregon court.

I was plunged into 7 months of unbelievable insanity, where my husband assisted by his lawyer (who had convinced him that this was how it was done in the United States: hire a lawyer, and you can dissolve your marriage for only $2000! – LOLOL) embarked on campaign to completely humiliate and financially devastate me in every way possible.

My husband (who was a Japanese national, having gotten his green card through me) never disclosed his international stocks, his bank accounts, his credit cards, or his position at his father’s company in Japan. I disclosed every penny I had (which only amounted to a few thousand dollars) – so on paper I looked like I was the one with all the money. I was denied from the Oregon Bar Association’s Modest Means program (that provides lower-cost attorneys) since my case involved international issues and was far too complicated for anyone to take one. Instead, I had to hire an international family lawyer to fight the egregious lies being recorded about me on the paperwork he and his lawyer and filed, to prevent any sort of international kidnapping, and to protect me and my son’s most basic rights. Oh, and since Oregon is a no-fault divorce state, everything my husband had done was immaterial in a court of law.

I begged my husband to not do this, to stop with the lawyers, to not financially devastate me because in the end I would not be able to take care of our son and keep his life stable, that our little boy would be the one who suffered the most. The person I was still legally married to sneered that he had to use a lawyer to protect his interests since I said crazy things like I would get the house, I would get child support, I would get spousal support. I pushed and pushed to just hire a mediator and saved money. He was, as he had been for years, still living off his parents’ credit card and money, he said, was of no issue to him: his parents were rich and could pay as long as it was necessary.

On March 27, 2015, I was forced to accept a settlement where I got a completely inadequate amount of child support (since my husband was working only 19 hours a week when it was assessed). I did get a lump sum spousal support (instead of monthly since he refused to agree to it) which went to cover bills and debts and refinance the house, and, most importantly, I got the house – and was able to make stable the only home my son has ever known, so he can grow up here with all his friends in our neighborhood.

It was either accept the settlement or pay another $20,000 and force it to Court, where the judge said she would be deposing my father-in-law as to the full extent of money my husband had been using. My husband said that his father had lawyers in Japan and would fight it. I could choose to rip apart his family and their privacy to lay bare the full extent of his resources in Japan – and get the judge to award me some of those resources on paper, that in reality I would likely never see – or I could fold and accept a completely inadequate offer, which included no other support or obligation to helping pay our son’s school costs, daycare fees, sports fees, or even support for the dog that he left with me (since the girl’s place that he moved in to did not allow dogs).

I could stand or I could fold.

I stood for my marriage, my vows, and my family for as long as I could.

I looked around, and I was the only one standing.

So I folded, and did to my son the unthinkable, the unforgivable as a parent. I signed a document that split our family into two, that now drags my son from here to there and back again all within one week, that destroys his template of a marriage and an unbroken family. I had absolutely no choice to do this to him, and the guilt will haunt me for the rest of my life.

And here now, is The Aftermath.

I survived. My son survived.

I came out of it in one piece (though often I never thought I would), with the support of family and friends, some whom I will be indebted to for the rest of my life.

I lost social circles, in-laws, people whom I trusted. I found family, friends, and people to trust. I found support where I never thought I would find it.

The person I used to be married to still sees our son once a week or so when he is around. Apparently he’s quit his job and after a month of traveling around the world, he’s now a month in Colorado training for a new job.

But it doesn’t matter. I secured my son’s home, my son’s school, his routines, and his life. After working 4 part-time and freelance jobs to make ends meet, I finally have a full-time job that I love and that I can support myself with. Most of my possessions I still have. I’ve sold what I don’t need or want, and cut back. I’ve cut our monthly expenses as far as I can go. I am surviving.

I felt I needed to share with all of you, my readers, the truth of what happened, of why I’ve slowed down in blogging, why it has been immensely difficult this past year and a half to write about fashion and DIY and what had begun to feel, to me, like very trivial things when my life was being turned upside down.

I am not saying that I was good and the person I was married to was bad, because nothing is as simplistic as that. There were things that I could have done better, ways that I could have prioritized my relationship more, old hurts and difficulties I should have dealt with earlier in order to improve our relationship. I could have communicated better. But I never would have chosen this as an option for dealing with a tough relationship, especially once there was a child involved.

It is very difficult putting myself out there on the internet like this, showing how vulnerable I am to the world. But I am done keeping other people’s secrets.

All I know is this intensely personal and difficult experience has allowed me to grow and learn about strength and resiliency in a way I never could have, and provides valuable life lessons in moving forward. Of course one of my major reasons for not putting it out there was the potential harm to my son, in him finding out the truth about what his father did. I still have to lie to my little boy every day (as dictated by all the parenting books, therapists, and advice out there): in verbally accepting full and equal responsibility for what happened in our family, in never saying a bad word about his father, in never sharing the gory details and instead sympathizing with the pain my son still experiences. Someday I will share with him and answer his questions honestly in order to hopefully impart life lessons about choosing the right person for a long-term commitment, someone who shares the same value system – and how to make a commitment actually work for the long term.

Someday I will know how to impart those lessons.

Just not today.

Thank you for reading, and for sticking with me and this blog through the slowdown of posts, the lack of good advice, and the overall somber and melancholy tone over the past 18 months. I appreciate each and every one of you so much, and it is in part due to this blog and my dear readers that I made it through to the other side.

xo
Carly

A Truly Radiant Wardrobe Every Day, Inspired by ARM & HAMMER™

FTC Disclosure: This post is part of a paid campaign with the makers of ARM & HAMMER™ and BlogHer. All opinions expressed are my own. My official Disclosure Policy is here.

Sometimes it takes stepping back and re-evaluating your life to discover the radiance within – and I’ve found that by paring down my possessions, specifically the contents of my wardrobe.

After many years living in the same home, you often fall into a rut, surrounded by things you don’t necessarily need or use anymore.

That was me, living with my son in our home in a small town just outside of Portland, Oregon. There was so much clutter, so much excess, that over the past year I embarked on a mission to purge. To get back to basics. To find what makes me shine among all the needless items amassed from years of DIY’s, crafting, buying, being gifted things, and just general mindlessness when it came to holding on to things.

So I began a mission of frugality: to cut back everywhere I could, not only in bills and general consumption, but also in items I had in the house. Items that I did not use – and that were full of memories of times that were not so happy, that dragged me back into a past of dullness and dust every time I looked at them.

arm-hammer-truly-radiant-closet-makeover-chic-steals

I cleaned out my closet from 7 years of holding onto stuff I wore. Handbags, jewelry, accessories, coats, jeans, tops, lingerie, dresses, skirts, knick-knacks… nothing was immune, and I ended up getting rid of 3/4 of what I owned. It was then, once I had eliminated 75% of what I owned, that I discovered something amazing.

I discovered that when you own less, there is less to take care of. Less time you devote to taking care of it for one thing! (Dusting, cleaning, dry-cleaning, ironing, putting back on hangers, organizing, mending.) Less mental space that it takes up. Fewer memories tugging at you, less of the past rising up to meet you every time you open the closet. And with less choice, amazingly… you have more. Everything goes together, everything fits. The beauty of matching – and the beauty of space in between your garments. Suddenly, what felt cramped and ugly, became beautiful and radiant, simply by embracing less and leaving only what I truly loved. I uncovered this only through paring down to my essentials.

Just as I had to remove layers upon layers of old clothing to get to my core wardrobe of radiance, so does ARM & HAMMER™ Truly Radiant™ Rejuvenating Toothpaste prevents tartar from building up to reveal truly white teeth. But unlike an average whitening toothpaste, this revolutionary toothpaste goes beyond the surface to strengthen, clean and repair tooth enamel for a radiant smile in just 5 days.* (*Data on file.)

It took me a lot longer to clean out and paint my closet, and go through, pare down, and sell my possessions. But with this toothpaste, for less than a $4 investment, you can reveal a whole new smile in less than a week. It has a light and crisp mint flavor, and a cooling sensation that lasts.

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Learn more about the Truly Radiant™ Collection by visiting the ARM & HAMMER™ website or following them on Facebook for special promotions and information.

You can also try the new ARM & HAMMER™ Truly Radiant™ line of products for a chic steal with these coupons (and who doesn’t love coupons??!):

Save $1.00 off ARM & HAMMER™ Truly Radiant™ Manual Toothbrush

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I found my inner strength and radiance by cutting out the non-essentials and only keeping the things that empowered me and made me smile. How will you re-connect with your inner radiance? Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
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  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

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Be sure to visit the Truly Radiant brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

xo

Carly

Announcement: Big Changes on the Way

sunset-tree-new-beginning-chic-steals

Hi friends! I feel so grateful that you guys are still checking out my site and visiting, even though I haven’t posted in…gulp…weeks

And the reason is that there’s been so much happening. Like so.much. So many changes have happened and they’re beginning to pile up because I want to announce them all but I want to do it right. So here’s one:

I’ve been hired as the Director of Marketing for Simplifilm and will be starting there full-time very soon!

In this move, I will be bidding goodbye to Studio 3 (it’s been a GREAT year) and moving on. I love all my coworkers and will miss them a ton.

Simplifilm creates slick animated videos that explain hard concepts in less than 3 minutes. They’re awesome. Have a gander here. Working there I can use my background in animation, video production, motion graphics, editing, blogging, digital marketing, and social media. It’s such an opportunity and I’m super-excited about it!

So what does that mean for Chic Steals? Well, I’ll still be trying to keep up the blog but there will be some changes (announcement coming soon as to exactly what).

I truly value all of you as readers and don’t want to just stop blogging about fashion-y stuff and tutorials and the like…but it may take on a bit of a different form from here on out.

Thanks for sticking with me all these years, and here’s to the new!

xo

Carly

Kollabora x Jo-Ann Fabrics DIY Instagram Instacation Magnets

Ever wanted to display all those beautiful photos from your Instagram feed into a craft easily and at home?

This is a fun project to turn Instagram photos into magnets commemorating a fun event or time. (AKA an “Instacation!”)

They’re surprisingly easy to make at home (and a number of the supplies used in this project are on sale right now!) Plus, you don’t have to use a 3rd part for the printing – you can just use a regular printer to print your images on cardstock. Print, cut, and stick and that’s it!

Check out How to Make the DIY Instagram Magnets here

xo

Carly

FTC Disclosure: This post was part of a paid campaign with the Kollabora Network. The above opinions are my own. My full Disclosure Policy is here.

Meet My New Line of Jewelry: Glitterthorn

guinevere-necklaces-glitterthorn-jewelry-sunflareHello friends!

It’s been a long time in the making, but I’m finally ready to launch my new line of jewelry: Glitterthorn, an edgy, boho collection featuring rough, organic stones and crystals, accented by epoxy, metal leafing, vintage chains, and Swarovski rhinestones.

Here are the first 2 designs I’m rolling out:        guinevere-necklaces-glitterthorn-jewelry

{  Guinevere  Necklace  }

Clear quartz point pendant with black epoxy resin and gold leaf [sealed], on goldtone cable chain with pyramid charm at clasp. Can be worn at 17″ (between choker and princess length) or 28″ (rope length). Comes in Large or Small.

guinevere-necklace-large-glitterthorn-jewelryLarge = wider crystal point, around 1 and 3/16″ long and ¾” wide.

guinevere-necklace-large-glitterthorn-jewelry-on-model

Guinevere Necklace { Large } – $36

[shown worn as the long length]

guinevere-necklace-small-glitterthorn-jewelrySmall = thinner crystal point, around 1¼” long and ½” wide.guinevere-small-necklace-glitterthorn-jewelry-on-model

Guinevere Necklace { Small } – $29

[shown worn as the short length]

glitterthorn_fieldisolde-necklace-long-glitterthorn-jewelry

{  Isolde Necklace  }

Crystal geode slice pendant, surrounded by black epoxy resin studded with Swarovski crystal chatons. Silvertone flat cable chain and silvertone pyramid charm at closure. Long length: vertical geode slice, 24″ (opera length) chain. Pendant = approximately 1½” long and 1″ wide at widest point.

isolde-necklace-long-close-up-glitterthorn-jewelryisolde-necklace-long-glitterthorn-jewelry-on-model

Isolde Necklace { Long } – $42

The stones used in this jewelry are unique – please allow for natural variations on their organic beauty.

guinevere-necklace-large-glitterthorn-jewelry-on-model-wildflowersMore designs coming soon – I can’t wait to share them with you!!
glitterthorn_forest

This has been a labor of love of mine for such a long time, I’ve many times second-guessed myself and felt like it wasn’t ready to share just yet. But if I keep stalling I just may never do it! I’m still working on the logo, putting together an Instagram for Glitterthorn (to share behind-the-scenes and new designs, as well as offering pieces for purchase), refining my Etsy store, deciding on packaging…etc. etc. But they say to do something that scares you every day, and to jump in feet first before you feel completely sure. I’m not completely sure what I’m doing, but I love making jewelry, and I know I want to share it with the world. Thank you so much for all your support and encouragement!

Glitterthorn Jewelry is Now Available through my Etsy store here!

Questions? Comments? Let me know!

xo

Carly

 

DIY Washi Tape Blog Planner

Intro photo for the DIY Washi Tape Blog PlannerI’m a scheduler, and I love my To-Do lists more than anything. But…life is COMPLEX, and I can’t wander around with a million bits of paper with to do lists written on each. In managing this blog I need to be able to see at a glance all the days in the week – and the month – so I can plan out what I want to (ideally) post here. I’ve tried a digital calendar, which I’ve found doesn’t work for me because I like to jot ideas down on the side, rotate ideas for posts in and out of the hopper, or brainstorm away from the computer. I’ve tried a date book, which is too small for me to see the whole month at the size I need. And no matter what offline solution I’ve tried, I was constantly erasing things and having to rewrite posts on new days if I made the smallest change. Sooooo frustrating!DIY Washi Tape Blog Planner

But now I think I’ve found the best solution to my blog planning problems: a DIY Blog Calendar, that uses washi tape as a way to organize posts once you’ve brainstormed them. No erasing necessary! And it’s super easy to put together. Here’s how to make your own DIY Washi Tape Blog Planner (which is yes, quite intuitive from the photos):

Peeling scheduled day tape off the DIY Washi Tape Blog Planner calendar

1. Print out your favorite calendar for the month. I turn off all my scheduled events and print a month’s view of iCal just so I can get the structure. I prefer to have a piece of paper for each month as I go, rather than using a laminated sheet and a dry erase marker, but you could do that too.

2. Tear small pieces of washi tape off, folding one edge under about 3/6″. This creates a tab for easy removal. I like to create a theme for my tape colors: one color is for DIY projects or my own designs; the other is for sponsored posts, reviews, or outfits.

3. Now comes the fun part: brainstorm! Write ideas for your posts, sponsored posts, reviews, whatever on each piece of tape. (I found that ballpoint pen or Sharpie worked best on the waxy washi tape.)

4. Then, once brainstormed, schedule into your calendar by sticking into the appropriate days. Some ideas won’t have a place just yet, so I left them floating at the top, ready to rotate into next month if needs be.

5. Follow the calendar for your posting schedule. At the beginning of each week stick your posts into the day you actually posted them (in case you missed any or the schedule moved around). Then you’ll always be up to date – and won’t miss any posts!

I like that this is a permanent way to collect your thoughts and keep your blog schedule on hand, but you can still move ideas around as you go. You could use this for anything; it doesn’t have to be a blog calendar! It could be just general life or a to-do list, and the washi tape makes it look so pretty!

Close up of days on DIY Washi Tape Blog PlannerHappy DIY’ing!
xo

Carly

Chic for the Week – 10

Chic for the Week: My shopping picks for Summer leaf print skirt outfitWelcome to another installment of Chic for the Week, where I share a couple shopping picks that I can’t stop thinking about.

Yes, it’s finally Summer, and temperatures are rising. Trending right now are leafy prints reminiscent of Hawaiian-style shirts, verdant jungles, and tropical climes. Infuse your wardrobe with pieces that work just as well as separates as all together in this fun Summer outfit:

1. Basketball Jones Ivory Mesh Crop Top, $34

Super-cute and a necessity this Summer, this top looks great with jeans or a sweeping midi skirt, and will keep you cool as temperatures climb.

2. Steve Madden Bsashaa Stripe Clutch, $58
Though the name’s a little funny to say (Bsashaa??) this pretty striped clutch is no joke when it comes to mixing and matching with a variety of prints. It can’t clash. That’s why you should have it, folks – because it will go with everything in the utmost style.

3. Japanese Banana Leaf Print Skirt, $19.65

Love this leafy print! The design is really unique, too – making this an utterly unforgettable skirt at a really, really good price.

4. ASOS Penny Pointed High Heelsicon, $57

Sultry and gorgeous, these will make your legs look a mile long. Pair with jeans that boast a frayed, cut hem for utter gorgeousness.

Steamy Summer date-night anyone?? 😉

xo
Carly

FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you click and buy something through one of the links above. My full Disclosure Policy is here.

Announcement: New Edgy Boho Chic Jewelry Designs Coming Soon…

glitterthorn-jewelry-designs-preview-carly-j-caisHello friends!

I’ve had a ton of things going on, been revamping my life, and doing a lot of soul-searching lately, as well as diving into new, exciting (and a little scary) projects. I teased the above image out on my Instagram awhile ago, and I’m finally getting close to launching my new line of handmade, edgy boho chic jewelry.

Glitterthorn has launched!

Check out the full post here – and they’re available for purchase here.

What do you guys think?

Stay tuned for more…coming oh so soon! I can’t wait to share with all of you :-)

xo

Carly

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