The Edition: No. 357

Apr 11, 2023

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. // Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

+ How to brag about yourself the right way.

+ This peplum top is phenomenal.

+ The worst year of your career begins when you become the boss.

+ Prabal’s inclusive designs for JCPenney have great dresses.

+ Fridge or pantry? Where you should store these staples.

+ Small, Basic Bags: A functional crossbody or a cell phone sling.

+ The capital-letter brands are ‘junkifying’ Amazon.

+ Olivia Pope Vibes. Blazer + Suit Pants + Trimmed Shell

+ On designing an economic system that works for women.

+ This dress is basically pajamas you can wear in public. (Also in plus.)

+ The second-hand clothing market is booming.

+ Cool Lace Tops. One in chevron and one in antique lace.

+ An intense approach to managing online dating apps.

+ Poolside Outfit. Crochet cover-up + a cool one-piece + a sun hat

+ How big should the House of Representative be? 

+ AT has malachite earrings in both drops and studs. So pretty.

Interesting Read. What is a life edit, and do you need one?

In the early days of this blog, I frequently talked about my life.  Then, after a particularly hurtful and cruel reader comment in 2019, I decided to cut back.  I’d like to start sharing more of myself with this audience, but I’m reticent, so maybe I’ll just dip my toe in with a short life update.

In 2021, I accepted a job at a law firm in Spokane. I was really excited (admittedly, also nervous) for a new opportunity.  Things did not go as planned.  The firm was great, the people were fabulous, but the partner I was working for experienced some challenges in their personal life and moved on abruptly during my maternity leave. Shortly after, I decided to move on also.

For years, I have been trying to permanently relocate to Montana.  But the pandemic upended those plans (how is a house in Montana more than a house in D.C?), and now my husband’s job is no longer remote and firmly ensconced in Spokane.  So I took a new position in Montana for the legislative session, which in a quirk of democracy only runs for 100 days every other year.  So we are back in Helena for my third and final session.

By we, I mean Sloane, the dogs and I. Kyle came for the first month, using his paternity leave to work remote, but couldn’t stay.  So I’m on a solo-parenting adventure filled with teething, ear infections, sleep-training and an introduction to solid foods.  I’m also working the long days that many of you, as legislative staff, are very familiar with.  And I’m tired.  So f**king tired.  I didn’t know exhaustion like this existed.

For many years, my career was a nice straight line.  Since finishing law school, that line feels more like a curlicue.  I’m happiest doing the work that I know, policy work.  Even on hard days, I still love it, understand it, and am good at it.  But the opportunities for this work outside of a capital city are slim, and going back to campaigns is an unattractive notion for a moderate like myself.  So I will likely need to go back to the practice of law when I return to Spokane in less than a month.

I feel a bit like a broken record these days.  I’ve spent several years trying to ‘figure out’ my career when it must be spent in a city that is not the ideal choice for me.  I’m not wired to just take a job, collect a paycheck, and go home at 5:00PM. I have an inherent need to care about my work and be deeply invested in it.  What that looks like outside of legislative policy, I don’t know.  But I’ll figure it out, somehow.

As for this blog, I am deeply excited for the new design (just got the concept draft) that will heal the functionality and freshen things up a bit.  I’m taking the month of May off, so it will be nice to just focus on creative projects for a bit.

And that’s what my life looks like right now. I’m sure those readers who come here solely for the hate-read will delight in the rockiness of making life work, but I hope they’ll consider for a moment that everyone’s life goes through peaks and valleys.  Finding balance between family, personal pursuits, and work is difficult for everyone.  I don’t expect sympathy or cheering up, I just wanted to share a piece of my life in a space that’s felt a little stale lately because I am genuinely afraid to be vulnerable here.

Anyway, if you need me, you can find me snuggling a teething baby at 2:00AM overthinking my future plans.  But at least I’ll be wearing fabulously chic pajamas.

{image via @snarkandlemons; this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}

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  1. Jenn S. says:

    Thank you for sharing.

    Also, looking forward to seeing the new design!

  2. Madeleine says:

    You are doing great. Whatever it is and however you manage, everyone else can just mind their business <3

  3. Kelly says:

    Sending you lots of support – at least some of these challenges are all temporary, but that doesn’t make it any less hard now. Thanks for sharing, and we appreciate you!

  4. Rachel says:

    These are hard days, my friend. But it will get better. Just take each season one at a time – that’s all you can do in parenting. Thank you for being vulnerable with us. I hope you feel the love from all your readers.

  5. Karen says:

    Thanks for sharing and for taking the risk. I wish you were my coworker. Your work ethic and style would make us fast friends. Just a thought: would your employer provide you with a professional coach? It might be helpful to dream aloud and think through career goals with a professional who can support you. Just like therapy, sometimes you have to crack a few eggs before you find the right fit. Anyway, you got this, Mama. I am cheering for you.

  6. Emily says:

    Thank you, Abra, as always for your wonderful content and truthful glimpse inside your world. I’ve been following you for 10+ years and that article you posted a while back about how “influencers” feel like our friends rang true to me – I can feel you in every post!

    On another note, when/if you feel comfortable sharing – would you mind going into what a day looks like for you while you’re single parenting? Example, does Sloane have a babysitter or daycare or whatever? I’m a military spouse, work full time and put 100% of myself into my job. My husband and I’ve been discussing if we want to have children and that’s a concern of mine. I know so many individuals are out there solo-parenting and I would love to learn more.

  7. Cait says:

    I’ve always appreciated your life/career updates because they demonstrate that it isn’t always as clear-cut as we were told it would be! I’m about a decade behind you career-wise and was always shown the straight upward line career path. Anyone who deviated from it was either a wildly successful entrepreneur, or a total failure.
    Now that I’m in a traditional professional career path, I can see how this isn’t necessarily a straight line. It is for some people, but one thing you choose to do isn’t what you have to do forever! I appreciate you showing the what it really looks like to make a pivot, to work on things you’re passionate about, and to make life happen alongside it all.

  8. KL says:

    Thanks for sharing. I really resonate with your comment that the career line feels more like a curlicue. My steady big-firm tech job became remote-friendly during the pandemic, so we took the leap in leaving California for my husband’s hometown in Montana. I knew it would make my career harder to progress; I was OK with that tradeoff. But he left his toxic job, took a few months off, the tech job market has tanked… and now I’m the sole breadwinner for an indefinite amount of time, on a reduced salary due to going remote and higher expenses as a new homeowner. But I have faith we will figure things out eventually, and I know that you will too.

  9. MMC says:

    You are a rockstar. Being vulnerable and open is a superpower. You’ve got this. This is such a hard time, but you are strong and will make it through. Be as compassionate with yourself as you are with others. hugs!

  10. Nadine says:

    Will the new website allow for turning comments off of some posts? Perhaps you’d feel more comfortable sharing if you eliminate the option for something hateful to get through.

  11. Audrey m says:

    Even not solo-parenting, simply incorporating a family, work, regular keeping a home afloat tasks, and trying to maintain a relationship with your partner is truly exhausting. Huge good vibes to you doing it with Kyle far away. Love hearing about your life. Thank you for keeping up this blog.

  12. irmk says:

    Thank you for sharing your path and your thoughts. It’s one of the reasons I keep reading.

    I definitely feel those feelings about jobs and careers. It’s so hard when you want to do legislation and policy but can’t/don’t want to live in a capitol city. But, personally, I have learned that if you expand your horizons “beyond the dome”, there is a new world of policy jobs in civil society, and the non-profit ones desperately need help and relevant experience. No shade AT ALL to for-profit lobbyists, but I felt a lot better about leaving the Congress and going to a non-profit. I’m doing exactly the same work, with a different business card, in a city that makes my spouse happy, and with a better work/ life balance. It made my career feel less like a curlicue and more linear. Either way, you’ve got this, and a bunch of internet strangers are rooting for you.

  13. Laura says:

    Someone pithier than I once said you can never rule on the goodness of a marriage until all parties have been dead 10years. I think the same can be said of a career – it will change and evolve due to external and internal pressures and preference so much over the course of life that choosing one thing and sticking with it does not work, anymore more than wearing an intern’s clothes from 2010 works when one is a staffer in 2023. If things that go on for a long time (like a career or marriage) are lines and not curlicues, something has probably gone terribly wrong or gotten terribly stale

  14. J says:

    Hi, Abra.

    Oof, do I know the feeling, but in a different direction. I thought I was built to be a law firm person and had a whole vision for my career. Turns out, I hated it, and it wore my mental health to a nub.

    I left my firm to go into a legal position at an agency whose mission I care deeply about, and I do policy all day every day. A large part of my job is working with Hill staff to advocate for our legislative priorities. It’s the hardest part of my job, but also the most rewarding. My agency has largely adopted a fully remote model, and I know many others have really increased their flexibility about remote positions.

    There’s hope. It might not look like what you planned, but it also doesn’t have to be a law firm. Sending you lots of good vibes and confidence that what’s meant for you will find its way to you.

    J

  15. PW says:

    As always thank you for the thoughtful content and thank you for sharing.

  16. Cindi says:

    Just FYI, regional public agencies like transportation or wastewater often have staff positions labeled Goverment Relations/Affairs. The work may Involve policy development in concert with elected officials at the state or federal level. Essentially it’s lobbying for your particular agency with the people that approve funding. There are people who do this for smaller agencies on a consultant basis. A law degree would be a definite plus in this situation. Just FYI.

    • Sarah B says:

      I agree! I work for a public water agency and we have both internal policy/government affairs staff and consultants we use. We are always looking for thoughtful policy-people that know how to get things done, as I’m sure other public groups are. I hope you find something that fits!

      Also, I love your personal updates! I’ve been a follower for a long time and really appreciate hearing how your career and career-wants have changed over time and help disprove that straight-line BS we were all told. Baby/toddler stage is so tough under any circumstance – hang in there!

  17. Cindy says:

    Hi Abra,
    Thanks for sharing! I am sorry about the nasty commenter-do not understand why people will speak in a public forum in a written way that they would never speak in person-at least let’s hope not!
    I finally have the best job of my career, now that I am at the end of my working life (well close-due to stupid financial decisions when I was young, I will likely be working until my mid 70s and I’m 65 now). What I can share after working all those years (started in my early teens) at more gigs than I can shake a strike at is that it took me every single one of those goofy, underpaid, boring jobs to get me where I am today. And whenever I get a bit bummed that I found this one so late, I remind myself that I am grateful for all of them. I worked with incredibly talented people, learned a ton and had a blast. Here’s to you having a much shorter trajectory in the pursuit of your career-enjoy!

  18. Veronica says:

    I was in academia, and a lot of partnered women face a two-body problem like yours — a partner with a job in a location where there aren’t any real academic jobs. I’ve seen some really hard set-ups. My best friend commuted from TX to MO for years, flying out on Tues morning and returning on Thurs night (and they had 2 kids under 5 while doing this!).

    I had to leave the academic career I sunk a dozen years into building because I realized there was no further growth for me to have. I took a job that was a downgrade, burned out, and just recently found my way back into a position where I’m using my PhD, but in a way I never expected. But it was a rocky road to figuring out what that looked like.

    You can only do the best you can with the options available. Thanks for sharing – we’re all rooting for you.

  19. Nel says:

    I’ve followed you for over a decade and probably always will! As a loyal fan over here, thank you for sharing your life updates. I love them!

    Be open to change. I was like you until I had my daughter. Life became chaos and I decscended to a dark place. Out of it blossomed my dream career, full of the balance I always wanted and the growth I craved. I hit rock bottom and had no where to go but up, and that courage to break rules, be uncompromising and stand up for myself was hard earned but damn it was worth it on the other side.

  20. Ashley says:

    I’m a long-time follower and in the same place as you, having spent a couple years trying to “figure out” my career. It’s require several pivots and I’ve run into a lot of dead ends. The judgment from others who don’t understand is very hard. Thank you for sharing and helping me feel less alone in this journey.

  21. Jo says:

    No words of wisdom, but hang in there! Anyone working those hours while solo parenting has my respect…it’s tiring enough caring for an infant with a partner in the home and a normal job. I hope you have local support! Hopefully, you’ll feel like you can see a little more clearly once you’re getting a little more sleep.

    As for hate-readers…it’s definitely a thing on the Internet, but if people want to spend their limited free time by following the goings-on of someone they dislike, well, they seem like their judgment is sufficiently poor that they’re worth ignoring. Easier said than done, I know.

  22. SamIam says:

    FWIW, I think a moderate like you absolutely belongs in politics. I don’t agree with you on lots of issues, but I appreciate that you approach those issues with nuance and respect for both sides. If you don’t want to work campaigns, how about running yourself?

  23. Chrissy says:

    Ugh. I’m sorry for the hateful comments. There is an unending supply of content to consume in the world–I’ll never understand why people waste their time on something just to hate on it. I’ve loved reading your recommendations for years and appreciate you continuing to evolve with it.

  24. J says:

    Abra, please know that for so many of us you continue to inspire us to chart our own paths, may they be curlicues, “non-traditional”, hard, unique or even very frustrating at times. Thank you so much for sharing. I love the way you have found to pursue meaningful work. We need more women sharing their REAL experiences. We write our own stories…

  25. J says:

    A sincere thank you for your vulnerability in sharing your life update. I also felt that my own transition into law was very rocky and I was so adrift for such a long time. I’ve now arguably hit the peak of my career, where I am doing meaningful work in a highly competitive position that is well-compensated. However, when I am very honest with myself, I would rather not be in the legal profession at all. Giving it all up would boggle everyone’s mind but my own, but I’m not sure that this is where I’m actually called to be. Someday, maybe, we will all figure out what we want to be when we grow up.

    • Naomi says:

      Boy, do I feel this! Fellow lawyer here. My days are split between those in which I’m thrilled by my job, career trajectory, and the reputation I’ve managed to build for myself, and those in which I spend every hour fantasizing about different jobs. May we all have the courage to take the plunge and move if/when we need to.

      On another note, I’d just like to say thank you, Abra, for sharing your story. And…since this is a fashion blog…thank you for your superb fashion! Half my wardrobe has come from this blog, and it’s the first place I turn to for beauty advice. I love when you share your life with us – and root for you every step of the way – but I want you to know that you’ve still got a killer sense of style, too!

  26. Sarah says:

    This post is real. And it’s consistent with where many of us stand in this life stage. You’re brave enough to say it on the internet.
    Like you, the law firm life didn’t suit me at all. And after 5 years and a deep depression, I left for a government law position. Unlike you, I don’t need to find fulfillment in my job. I do excellent work, but the work is not mission driven for me. The job does, however, provide the lifestyle I want and could not find in BigLaw. I hope you too find the right place for you; I have to believe it’s out there.
    There is a world of women who love your content here and have followed you for more than a decade, but who also do not want this space to be a place of stress or anxiety for you. We support any days, weeks, months that you need to step away and focus on yourself, your family, or your other career. We will be here if you come back.

  27. Stephanie says:

    IT WILL GET BETTER! ALSO, AN IN-HOUSE GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS POSITION MAY BE A GOOD FIT.

  28. Susan says:

    I’ve been following you for several years, and first off am HORRIFIED that someone was cruel and mean to you!! You are in a tough spot for now, but it will pass — and you will have no idea how you did it. 🙂 Please keep the columns and information coming – and the outfits and makeup! And don’t listen to the naysayers – who makes anyone read anyway?? Listen to the positive comments – your information is uplifting and important, and I am grateful for it!

  29. Katherine says:

    I’m another long-time reader who visits your site every day, and I appreciate all of your posts, but particularly when you open up about your life. As a working mom I relate to your challenges, from trying to conceive, to childbirth recovery, to sleep deprivation, to being pulled in multiple directions, to trying to figure out a fulfilling career. When you share it makes the rest of us feel less alone, and that is a generous act. Thank you Abra.

    • Janine says:

      +1. You don’t owe anyone any details of your life, but I really appreciate reading your blog and knowing that it’s not just me in the thick of it. My son is a few months older than your daughter, and even with a partner those rough nights are exhausting when you’ve worked a full day and have to be up the next morning. And I have my dream law job and still feel kind of lost trying to balance work and motherhood. Hang in there.

  30. BeCY says:

    I was a military wife for 13 years, lived in a lot of places I did not want to nor which provided fulfilling work. But work I did. And ultimately, the accumulated skills I built landed me a dream job. Getting the dream job led me to find your blog in 2014 (figuring out what to wear in DC).

    The point is, life is not a line, and our professional roles may be rewarding or not, depending on the time. Sometimes, advancing on them takes a back seat to other aspects of our lives (health, family, travel). But hopefully growth, overall, both professionally and personally is achieved over time. You say “curlicue” – I’ve been saying circuitous for years. All in all, I think I have been able to have it all – just not all at the same time, so goes the saying.

  31. Ka says:

    Good luck on your job search. Given your policy expertise, have you tried working for local government? You’re a long way from Olympia but there might be some opportunities to work as a lobbyist, advocating for causes you care about.

  32. SJ says:

    Long-time reader, first time commenter. I’ve been reading Cap Hill Style *forever*. I am also a barred lawyer with a bit of a curlicue career path, and at least for me it’s been really cool to get glimpses of your procession through life via your blog. I have no doubt there’s a big ol’ crew of very quiet but consistent readers who have grown up alongside you. Maybe knowing we’re here can help give you some moral support with sharing at whatever level you can feel comfortable. Wishing you luck and perseverance with this current phase of life and its struggles.

  33. Megan says:

    I always appreciate a glimpse into your life, thank you for sharing (but please don’t feel pressure to do so!). Best of luck in figuring out next steps in your career. If you ever find yourself down south in Portland, I’d be happy to buy you a coffee and chat law and parenthood (private practice here, two kids, single-mom). Looking forward to the new website, and enjoy your break in May!

  34. Amandag says:

    Love the space you have created here. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your life.

  35. Kate says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your life update and more importantly for clearing a path in the comments for us to share. The comments resonate so much. Not enough people talk openly about how hard working motherhood is, the decisions you have to make (do I try taking a client call with a sick kid screaming in the background?), the exhaustion. I’m 2 years in after maternity leave and it does get better once you give up on the idea you’ll ever have the same kind of professional life again. What helped me get there – an executive coach, creative projects, full time daycare, and a professional organizer. I hope your break in May gives you some clarity and I’m so happy you are on this corner of the internet.

  36. TheLOOP says:

    When I was a new mom, I had a full time nanny, a husband who was temporarily stay-at-home and a super supportive boss/work culture for moms… AND I still struggled a lot. So you have my deep respect for the way you are solo parenting and managing your career. Like some others have recommended, I hope you do consider policy work in the non-profit sector – the sector has evolved a lot from old stereotypes, leadership pay is quite competitive (not tech level but consulting jobs level at least) and work cultures are becoming more inclusive and balanced every day. I have several friends who worked on the Hill in their 20s/30s in education policy and then switched to nonprofit policy work later on.

  37. Kt says:

    Love your life updates <3 thank you for sharing!

  38. Caitlin says:

    YOU ARE A BOSS, AND HAVE AN ARDENT SUPPORT SYSTEM IN US: YOUR ADORING READERS! YOU CONTINUE TO ASTOUND AND IMPRESS WITH YOUR PRINCIPLED INTEGRITY, TIRELESS WORK ETHIC, AND PASSION FOR SERVICE. WE ARE IMMENSELY PROUD OF YOU, AND WE HAVE YOUR BACK. HANG IN THERE, LOVELY LADY!

  39. Emily says:

    Hi Abra. Thank you so much for sharing candidly & vulnerably about your recent career & life changes, as well as the quandaries you are facing about what’s next. I have been religiously reading your blog for more than 7 years now and find great comfort in your posts.

    I know at the end you said you were not looking for sympathy or cheering up, but I wanted to let you know that you are not alone. My own career has taken on its own curly q and left me wondering how I move forward when I (like you) don’t have much interest in moving to a capitol city.

    I don’t have a lot great advice since it seems we are in similar spaces of career questions, but I wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your blog every day – you have unwittingly served as an important virtual mentor for me as I learned to navigate my twenties.

    I know that you are going to find the next right step & it will take you into beautiful places. I’ll be cheering you on from my spot in the Midwest.

  40. Flo says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I also work in policy have been following you for over 10 years, since my intern days. You are one of the only corners of the internet I still trust, and always love hearing about your life updates. I am sorry about the hurtful comments, but as you can see in the comment thread here you have really created a special space here and a lot of us appreciate your work. I recently had to take a step back in my career and go back to a more laid back role and while a lot of people questioned me, I have no regrets. There is no linear path and you have to make your own! I can’t wait to hear your updates and trust you will do good work wherever you go.

  41. Ana says:

    Hi, long time follower here – I started reading your blog shortly after you began, and you’re the only one I still read regularly. I’m so sorry you have to deal with trolls. Very appreciative that you take time to research and create interesting and relevant content for us, including ensuring that it’s balanced and inclusive. It’s hard to do. We’re rooting for you.

  42. Chelsea says:

    Love hearing more about you. Just because you are not moving in a straight line does not mean that you are not doing great. Sometimes seeking happiness makes the most sense! I wonder if there are some remote policy jobs you could do from Spokane?

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