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You know, don’t you, that making lists of things you like can make you happy? Poet Jacqueline Suskin has used this simple practice to celebrate the sacred in ordinary things and find meaning in daily life. She’s written a self-help book, Go Ahead & Like It, to encourage others to explore why they like the things they do—a thinker’s reaction to simply hitting the ‘like’ or ‘favorite’ button in your social feeds.

For your happiness and mine, today’s post is just a digest of linky things and pictures you might like as much as I do. In all cases, I know exactly why I like them!

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Thank you notes

I got three last week! Thrilling!

  • The first came from KimAnn Schultz, president of the IMA’s Fashion Arts Society. She’s a gifted illustrator and writer, and hers was a sketch of Coco Chanel. Glory be, I love it!
  • Within a day, I got another from Murph Damron, a card that featured a signature fashion sketch that appeared in 1936 ad in Vogue for the now-defunct Indianapolis department store, Ayres. Naturally, the vintage connection gave me a thrill.
  • The last came from Elise Vestal, a beautiful friend who invited me to present at the Youth Philanthropy Initiative of Indiana meeting earlier this month. All the attendees were non-profits doing fantastic things with youth in our state. Read about Peers Project, the organization Elise leads. They’ve touched over a million youth in Indiana since they started with a mission of helping kids make healthy choices.

I’m freakishly fond of handwritten notes—little treasures in a sea of electronic communication.

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Big-bellied men

Would it surprise you to learn that three out of four women would rather date a man with a belly than one with six-pack abs? That’s according to a British study—not that I think it’s a scholarly work. But still. All the women in the survey (100 percent, folks) said they believe men with guts have better personalities than their slimmer peers. I’m not knocking skinny guys, but mine has a belly, and I’m nuts about him.  The fastidious way he wears his clothes is one of the many things I admire about him––never a wrinkle, a piece of lint or a hanging thread, which were evidently discouraged in the military. He calls them “ropes.”

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Zigging when others zag

For the opening night gala of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, I skipped formal wear and went with a pair of menswear-inspired pinstriped trousers, a satin blouse, nude shoes, and vintage accessories—a vintage clutch and rhinestones. It had been a long week and I was too exhausted for anything else. Well—in truth, that’s not the only reason. I also have a contrary streak that makes me want to run against the thundering herd. (Doesn’t everyone?) The soloist, Jeremy Denk, was awesome, but the orchestra’s excerpts of Swan Lake have stayed with me most. If you’ve ever seen a performance of Swan Lake (live or otherwise), it’s impossible to listen to the music without visions of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet.

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Having my nails polished

I’ve been polishing my own nails since I was in kindergarten. These days it isn’t practical for me to maintain them, so I’ve pretty much deep-sixed the practice, except for special occasions. I have been praying, yes praying, that someone would invent a good, long-lasting gel alternative that didn’t require a UV light. Sally Hanson has finally done it with Miracle Gel. I’m wearing Game of Chromes here. I’ve tested this polish twice. Both times I got a full week of wear before I saw the slightest defect. I was in a chlorinated pool twice with the second manicure and it was still presentable (but not perfect) after seven days. Caveat: I have only tried the frosted color you see here. I don’t know if the same can be said of the matte colors, but I intend to try them.

Meeting new friends

At the launch for the latest edition of Pattern Magazine, I met Chris, a guy who lives over the store. He came, not because he was interested in fashion, but because there was a party going on below and he figured he might as well be part of it. “I don’t know what it says about me that I’m more interested in the menswear than the women’s clothes,” I said as we both combed through men’s shirts. “Not to worry,” he said. “I get some of my best shirts as hand-me-downs from a lesbian friend of mine.”

And then he said the most insightful thing about how fashion has changed. He thinks it’s wonderful that kids no longer need to worry about having just the right clothes. They’re freer, he says, to be creative with clothes—without shame if they can’t afford what everyone else has. I don’t have kids, so I don’t know if that’s actually true. In his words, I thought I detected someone familiar with the sting of living on the margins of acceptance. I felt an instant affinity with him. Even when I was a toddler, I cared about clothes. By the time I went to school, I was self-conscious about what I didn’t have. A new outfit was a big deal then, as now. That’s why I love this story about a 99-year-old woman who makes dresses for needy girls in Africa. Can you imagine how wonderful some little girl is going to feel when she gets one of these dresses, lovingly made by this remarkable woman!

Bumping into old friends

At the same Pattern Magazine event, I arrived expecting to be the stranger in the room. What a great surprise to meet my sweet friend Jody. Although she was leaving as I was coming, we stood and talked long enough to plan (on-the-fly) our next steps for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pink Sweater.

Sometimes, we wonder if the things we say to people matter. When I left that evening, I wasn’t wondering about that at all. Jody’s words, her kindness and genuine concern for my family as my Dad faces a major surgery left me with calm assurance that my friends care. What more could one ask for in life? Watch for our update to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Two short takes that you shouldn’t miss

Sociologist Amy Cuddy on how your body language shapes your life.

Wade Goodwyn’s interview with Lee Ann Womack. She’s got a doozy of a gospel song on her latest album, to be released this week.

Now let’s hear from you. What do you really like and why? Parents, are kids really free from pressure to dress in certain brands?

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.