Newsworthy: Teaching Design Psychology on Skillshare

Hey Guys! I want to share some important news with you-- I am now officially a teacher on Skillshare! It's been a really long process to get to this point, as I have been trying to put together a Skillshare class since forever. What held me back the most is the technology. Filming and editing is definitely not as easy as they make it look, but now that I got my first class out, I'm looking forward to it getting a bit easier. For my debut class, I'm teaching on how to use design psychology to create a coherent mood for your bedroom. The mood of the room is so important because it sets the tone for the rest of the design process. Check out my class and let me know what you think. I'd also like to know what other topics you'd be interested in learning about.

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My Burgeoning Freelance Writing Career

Well Hello There! So glad to see you. I've been wondering where you've been- ha! *wink*. Hopefully, you've been living life to the fullest and enjoying spring. Aside from chasing little ones and working a full-time clinical job, I've been busy transitioning to a more creative career, incorporating my passion for design, fashion, and style into my work as a psychologist. I know very few (practically none) who have done this, making the path a little more difficult but hopefully that much easier for anyone coming up behind me. Part of my plan is to offer creative consulting services which I've spoken about here. But another part of the plan is writing for online magazines and websites that cover my creative interests. It's all very exciting and really helps me to sharpen  my writing skills. Among the websites I've been writing for is The Everygirl, a popular website for 20-somethings looking for inspiration to navigate young adult life. I've written a bunch of wellness and other related posts for them. Below are a few:

Here, I wrote about how to deal  with difficult personality types. I enjoy making psychological concepts relatable to lay people. It really is a different, and  refreshing style of writing considering that most psychology articles are written for esoteric journals and often complicated by psychological jargon.  I based the difficult personality types on actual clinical personality disorders (histrionic, narcissistic, depressive, compulsive, dependent), but stayed away from discussing full blown personality disorders as I felt it was beyond the scope of the article. I wanted to strike a balance between being entertaining and informative; providing psychoeducation and introducing the readers to different types of people without getting too clinical, especially since most of that information can be found on other, well-known websites. Read the full article here.


I was really psyched to write about design psychology, a branch of psychology that focuses on meaningful and emotionally fulfilling design. It's a relatively new field and looks beyond focusing on the aesthetics or safety needs of a space to social and psychological  needs that push us to achieve a self-actualized sense of place. I incorporated some tools used in design psychology to helps clients create a "blueprint" of their ideal space, including creating a vision of an ideal space based upon past, present, and future sense of place, picking favorite objects that evoke meaningful memories, and getting rid of objects that do not have meaning. See the full article here.

For this piece I wanted to target over shopping and ways to cope with it. Over shopping is similar to other types of addictions in that you use a "thing" to avoid dealing with deeper level issues that are often harder to address directly. So as an alternative to faulty coping skills, I offered some tips for dealing with poor shopping habits such as figuring out the reason you over shop, what you're getting from it, and learning to use other, healthier ways of coping.  You can read more about the article here.

For sure writing can be challenging, particularly with my hectic schedule. But it is also super rewarding to have an opportunity to be creative. In addition to the The Everygirl, I have also recently been hired as a contributing writer for I'm thrilled to be able to photograph and write about people's homes for the My Houzz series. I have a passion for interiors, and writing for Houzz is icing on the cake. So stay tuned for posts about my home tours! Until next time folks.

Newsworthy: The New Bohemians by Justina Blakeney

I love bohemian style. I think it's because I enjoy all different styles: the clean lines of modern décor, the cool classics of midcentury furniture, a little Hollywood glamour, and a good dose of romantic furnishings, the kind that feels proper, but not too precious. And bohemian décor has all that and more. So when I heard that Justina Blakeney was coming out with a new book on bohemian style, I pre-ordered it right away. New Boho 1 Justina Blakeney has built an awesome career around her bohemian sensibilities. In the book she makes reference to her multicultural background and love of travel, all which have informed her free-spirited sense of style. The book is packed full of beautiful bohemian homes categorized into six different types of bohemian looks including modern, folksy, romantic, earthy, nomadic, and maximal. And she invites us not to just look at pretty things, but encourages us to put our inspiration into action with an "Adapt an Idea" section for each home. It's a great way to hone your creativity, and you might even come up with some ideas of your own in the process. Justina also  sprinkles DIY treats throughout the book, an ode to her craftiness and belief in building a home that represents you. According to design psychology, needs for shelter are basic, but not sufficient for a self-actualized home, one that offers pleasure and beauty.  This book reinforces my desire to create a home that's beautiful and pleasurable to me. One I love to spend time in. Here are a few of my favorite looks from the book: New Boho 2 Just the other day I posted about my affinity for tassels and pom-poms (see here), and one look at this chandelier certainly shows you why. It's such a show stopper, and EXUDES major bohemian glamour. I love it. New Boho 12 Plants, plants, plants. I love how cozy and settled they make a home feel. It's hard to be tense and anxious when you've got bits of nature spread throughout your home. I like how it's presented here with midcentury modern furnishings. It feels so seasoned woman to me. New Boho 14aThe unabashed combo of colors and patterns here are so fun. Such a mix always seems to work in bohemian styled homes. The styling is not mechanical (like trying to remember what goes with what), rather it's more about being attuned to what colors or patterns "speak" to each other, and creating a vignette based upon that, even if the colors or patterns do not work together in theory. new boho extra 6 This room feels very glamorous to me, kind of like the owner spends her days at home with her dogs writing music while barefoot and wearing a long flowy dress with a myriad of bangles on her arm. Can you see it? bath1 What can I say about this turquoise, Navajo wallpaper. It goes to show you that multicultural style doesn't have to feel moody and woodsy, it can be bright and pretty too. dressing room I've always wanted a dressing area that was bursting at the seams with beautiful clothing and accessories. This little dressing room makes me want to just dig in and see what treasures I can find.New Boho 11aaa I really like big luscious plants like this, and the brass table lamp and mural gives such an East village vibe. I bet the person who lives here is down to earth, and all around cool--wouldn't you agree? bed This bedroom oozes with confidence and creativity. It's so bright with thoughtful details like the painting in place of a headboard, and pretty clothes displayed for all to see. I like the use of non-traditional window coverings, And that light! It has so much dramatic flair. new boho cover back1So what do you think of bohemian style? Do you see yourself incorporating any ideas from these homes into your space? If you'd like to see more of the book, you can get it here.

Newsworthy: Introducing Truly, LLC

I'm very excited to announce the formation of my new creative consulting and wellness company, Truly, LLC. It's where I provide wardrobe and interior consulting, conduct related workshops for organizations and companies, and of course, write this blog. And oh boy! has it been a long process to get to this point. Let me explain. Truly, LLC

As you may know by reading my sidebar or About page, I have a doctoral degree in counseling psychology, and getting that degree was in itself a process. You see, I tried several years to get into a doctoral program before I was accepted into one. Why didn't I get in? I really don't know. There could be many reasons— too nervous in the interviews, lack of clarity, or maybe it just wasn't God's timing. With each rejection I was demoralized but also driven to try harder the next time. People kept telling me to stop trying, but I just couldn't stand the thought of looking back and wishing I hadn't quit. I was driven by a pure desire to succeed and to prove I could do it. And I did.

But if you had asked me at the time what I wanted to do with my degree, I may have mumbled something about working with adolescent girls. And while this was (and still is) true, I hadn't fully realized what my career would look like. I hadn't yet considered that a doctoral degree doesn't = a career. Fast forward to my first exposure to blogs. I believe the Paris Apartment was the first blog that captivated me. I was so enthralled with all that beauty captured through graphic design and photographs. Reading blogs became a favorite pastime— a way for me to indulge in my love for fashion and design without being a part of the fashion and design world. I had already decided in college that I would choose psychology over a creative career. And I certainly wasn't going to leave psychology after all the hard work I poured into it. I didn't know I could change, or choose both.

I actually got the idea to start Truly 10 years ago, but it didn't come to me in the form of a blog (I didn't know much about blogs then) or creative consulting. It was the name of my clothing store. I always thought I would open up a store, but never knew how that would fit into my plan to be a psychologist. It took lots of jobs, and a lot  experiences— the good, the bad, and the ugly, to figure out that I could make my career what I wanted. That I didn't have to follow the rules. That God gives us passions to clue us in on our destiny.

Eventually I began to reimagine Truly as more than just a store. I realized that I could use my psychological training to inform my passion for fashion and design, and perhaps set myself apart from other psychologists in a fresh, nontraditional kind of way. So I started a blog. And I began reading and studying the psychology of fashion and design. I even did a short stint as a personal stylist for Anthropologie to learn more about retail. Through the entire process, I started feeling more like myself and not some version of who I think I'm "supposed" to be.

Let me interject here to emphasize that this is the succinct version of my story. It took a lot of tears, sweat, rejections, and did I say tears  before I finally realized my idea to start a creative consulting and wellness company. But thankfully those tears got me here. So without further ado,  let me explain a little bit about the company. I figured you may have basic questions about my services, so I decided to share information in a "Frequently Asked Questions" format. Here it is:

What is wardrobe consulting? Wardrobe consulting addresses  a person's emotional issues as it relates to clothing. Clients who have concerns about their dress work with me, the consultant, to improve their wardrobe behaviors  (i.e., anything from shopping to storing clothes, to creating outfits) and use it to facilitate emotional growth.

What's the difference between a wardrobe consultant and a stylist? A stylist focuses on a person's external image only, whereas a wardrobe consultant goes a little deeper to address the impact that self-perception, self-esteem, and other emotional issues have on a person's external image.

What is interior consulting? Interior consulting uses principles of psychology and interior design techniques to create spaces for clients that trigger high positive associations. I, the consultant, use a number of assessment tools, including a detailed interview to help clients envision their ideal space. The results of these assessments are used to guide the design of the space.

Is consultation therapy? No. consultation is not therapy, although it may be therapeutic. With wardrobe consultation in particular, I only address emotional issues as it relates to clothing, and if any serious emotional difficulties arise, clients are advised to address it in therapy.

What type of workshops do you offer? I call them wellness workshops, and I speak on a number of topics including design psychology, fashion psychology, self-esteem, and other topics that encourage a healthy and purpose-filled lifestyle.

Have you started offering services? Wardrobe consultation is being offered in a limited capacity, and workshops are being scheduled now. Interior consultation will be offered after fall 2015. I'll be sure to update my readers on the status of my services.

Do you have a website? My website is not up yet, but my readers will certainly be the first to know when it is.

I hope this answers some of your questions. And feel free to share any other questions or comments you may have. I'm thrilled to share this news with you and hope you will be inspired as embark upon this challenging but exciting new phase of my career.

Newsworthy: Mind What You Wear By Professor Karen Pine

When I was in college anxiously preparing for a for a big presentation, my roommate told me I'd be more likely to do well if I dressed up. While I wasn't sure if it would work, I put on my best slimming knee length skirt, and packed on loads of pearls (it was the late 90's). I can still see myself in class that day--definitely, anxious, but also dolled up and feeling pretty dapper. I got an A on my presentation, and at the time, I didn't think it had anything to do with my appearance, but now  I'm not so sure. karen pineYou  may have heard me talk about fashion psychology, and only a handful of psychologist have begun to explore the psychological impact of clothing. One of them is Karen Pine, developmental psychologist and Professor of Fashion. This past week I had the opportunity to read her book, Mind What You Wear, and it is full of research (including her own) that speaks to the power clothing has on us. Here are some highlights from the book.

1. Fashion isn't just visual, it's psychological. What we wear impacts not only others but us, the wearer--and the impact is complex. It isn't rocket science to figure out that we choose clothes based upon how we're feeling. But our clothes sends a message to others who react to us based upon our clothing choices, which in turn further impacts how we feel about ourselves in the clothes. If I decide to wear an unusually revealing get-up, I'll probably get lots of stares and unflattering attention. This would certainly have an impact on me that either reinforces what I was already feeling (e.g., a desire for attention) or stirs up feelings (e.g., shame, embarrassment).

2. The effects of clothing on our mood is often unconscious. Do you notice that you have a little more pep in your step when you wear that tea length skirt, those sequin wide leg pants, or that cute matching top and skirt? (okay, yes these are all things I'm wanting now) But think of those lucky socks you may have or the piece of jewelry you wore on your wedding day, or other special occasion. Sometimes we form an emotional bond to our things that is so strong, they almost have a magical influence over us when we were them.

solange3. Clothing can change our character. It's been said that the effects of clothing runs so deep it can cause us to act in uncharacteristic ways. Think of how you feel when you're made to put on a hospital gown or some kind of uniform? Famed researcher, Zimbardo (the one who conducted the famous Stanford prison experiment) showed that subjects who were asked to wear concealing clothing were more likely to express inhibited, cruel behaviors  than those who were not dressed as such. They call it the process of de-individuation, and it's a loss of both self-awareness and responsibility. While there are many other factors that contributed to the subjects' behaviors, the study sheds some light on just how powerful clothes can be.

4. Clothing affects the way we think. Yes, it's true. In fact, research has shown that female subjects made to do math problems in a bikini performed worse than those were not made to wear one. They postulated that the women in bikinis internalized society's objectification of women which made it difficult for them to concentrate. In other words, their self-objectification used up their mental resources. This concept has also been known as enclothed cognition, and means that both the experience of wearing clothes and its symbolic meaning affects our thinking. So the next time you choose an outfit, make sure you're comfortable in it, otherwise it can use up the mental energy you would use for other things.

4. Clothing can keep you stuck in a rut or get you out of one. In an attempt to get people out of a fashion rut, Professor Pine co-founded Do Something Different, a psychology based program that encourages people to make small, yet meaningful changes in their look. People are asked to try a "Do" each day for several days, like "Do dress to impress today, "Do try a new color combo today," or "Do stand out today." I love this idea, and it seems to have really made a significant impact in people's lives.

Professor Pine also gives us a treat by including a list of clothes that make us feel happy along with the theoretical basis for it. She calls them happy clothes, and I couldn't resist putting together a few pieces based on her list. See them here:

happy clothes vintage cameo|| J-Crew flats||Miu Miu sweater|| Miu Miu skirt||

Chois dress|| Lulu Frost earrings|| Kenzo pants

If you like what you're reading, go ahead and order the book (kindle edition only). I think you'd get a lot out of it. ♥

*Top 2 Images by Truly blog.

A Trip to Dwell on Design New York

If you read my last post, you know that I've been trying to catch you up to speed on what I've been up to these last few months. This week I wanted to share with you the Dwell on Design conference I attended in October. Organized by the the editors of Dwell magazine, it was an informative three day affair that included top architects, designers, design professionals, and cultural and educational leaders in the field of design. Honestly, I've never gone to a design conference before, and didn't know what to expect. It was certainly more than just a showcase for pretty things. It was a full-fledged, academic-like conference that inspired thought provoking ideas on design and its impact on the lives of everyday folks like you and me. I was glad I went-- I learned a lot about  major issues in design, particularly as it relates to public spaces and building a sense of community.  I attended the conference on one of the three days. Here are a few pics from the event that I took from my iphone (I accidentally left my camera). Dwell StoreA classic Dwell space--modern design that evokes an updated mid-century feel.

Steven LaddThis is Steven Ladd of Steven and William, New York-based artists (and brothers) known for their collaborative art projects made from recycled materials. Throughout the event Steven and William held what they called a "Scrollathon." Scrolls are rolled-up strips of old fabric that come in all different colors. Conference attendees were invited to create their own scrolls as part of a larger shared artwork meant to promote a sense of community and togetherness. It's also promotes a healthier environment by using recycled material that would otherwise be thrown away. Steven was nice to pose for my picture (and he's pretty cute too).

ScrollsHere are the scrolls. People were invited to mix and match as they pleased.

Shared ScrollsAnd here are what the scrolls look like as a larger artwork- pretty impressive, right?

Sibling Revelry ArticleIf you want to know more about Steven and William, they've been featured in a variety of publications including Architectural Digest shown above.

MarimekkoMarimekko, a Finnish textile and clothing design company known for its original prints and colors, were one of the sponsors at the event. Love the vibrant patterns shown here.

Dwell ViewA view from the entrance.

HumanscaleHumanscale, another sponsor for the event, is a company that specializes in ergonomic design-- "good" design that promotes well-being and productivity by enhancing people's strengths and abilities. They are known for designing innovative pieces for the workplace that are comfortable, functional and user-friendly. Those mushroom seats don't look comfortable, but they really are! I could've sat on them all day.

Thomas BalsleyI also attended one of the hour-long workshops, Reimagining New York City's Terra Firma. Before the workshop, I hadn't thought much about public landscapes or wayfinding. But this workshop really highlighted the issues involved in these types of designs. Here is a synopsis of what each of these architects/designers had to say about it.

Thomas Balsley (the one with the mic) is a renowned landscape architect who has designed bonus plazas in New York city. Bonus plaza's are small outdoor parks, not to be confused with destination parks. NYC bonus plazas make up 90 acres altogether, and in a city like New York, people definitely need somewhere to relax and connect with nature for brief periods during a busy day. Due to the the city's limited space, landscape architects have had to be very creative with where these parks are situated, and many are in unexpected places such as over parking decks. Thomas gave an historical view of these bonus plazas, and noted that plazas designed in the 60's failed because they were either not people centric or only designed for a specific purpose that later became irrevelant (such as for a theater that eventually closed down).  But with the rise of humanism (a big movement in many professions including psychology), architects studied and developed a better understanding of how people used such spaces and the elements that were essential to the way people lived. According to Thomas, people change and so does the use of the neighborhood. Therefore bonus plazas should be designed to be temporary to adjust to the changes.

Michael BierutMichael Bierut is a leading graphic designer working with both the Look campaign and Walk NYC program to improve typography on parking signs and overall wayfinding. Of course, we could all benefit from easier ways to get around the city. He noted that one of the major challenges is learning how different types of transportation can "live" together, including motor vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians. With the new bicycle parking racks, transportation has gotten pretty hectic, and creating easy to read signage is one way to offset potential confusion.

Susan ChinAnd Susan Chin, an architect and Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space, talked about the importance of thinking about how neglected, vacant spaces in underprivileged areas can be used in a new way to promote a sense of pride and trust in the community. She mentioned several programs including Under the Elevated, a program designed to make use of public space below the transit; and the Five Borough Farm where gardens are created on rooftops. These programs focus on ways to promote the welfare of the people which in turn improves overall well-being. She noted that data was collected to determine the benefits of urban agriculture including social welfare and job creation. It would be great to conduct research on the impact these spaces have on mental health and emotional well-being with specific populations.

Dwell endDespite the very rainy New York City day, I would say that the event was a success overall. As a psychologist, I have an appreciation for forums that discuss the impact of design on people, particularly the emotional impact it has on them. It makes me realize  how relevant psychology is in the field of design, and strengthens my desire to build a career in design psychology through research and consultation.

So have you been to a design conference? What do you think of them?