2018 Cyber Monday Shopping Guide!

As I write this, there are 30 days until Christmas. WHAT? When did this happen?

The past few years were the most painful holiday seasons of my life. I hope I’m not being overly optimistic, but I’m ready for this holiday season. I actually even got excited for the season a few days ago—a massive departure from last year when I just wanted to get on that goddamn plane to South America and skip through everything in between.

But I’m cautiously optimistic for this holiday season…and the shopping that comes with it! I know these retail kinda posts are a departure from what I’ve been posting lately, but I really enjoy putting them together, and I thank you in advance for your support! (I make a bit of money when you click on an affiliate link.)

Small Business

It was Small Business Saturday when I started writing this, which means supporting the businesses that support our communities and makes them unique, rather than cookie cutter strip malls. As the daughter of a former small business owner (my dad owned a textile business), I know uniquely how special—and difficult—small businesses can be. Here’s a few of my favorite:


Erica Sara Designs: If you’ve read here for a while, you know how much I love Erica and her work. I’m usually wearing at least one piece of her jewelry, usually my Never Give Up bracelet. I also have a piece of her jewelry for every marathon I’ve run. For Cyber Monday, the code GIFT15 will get you 15 percent off your purchase.

Marathon Navy copy

Sarah Marie Design Studio: If you’re a runner, you’ve probably heard of Sarah Marie, but if you’ve been under a rock, she is the woman who makes those adorable and funny sweatshirts and tanks. I have and love her Marathoner sweatshirt and have my eyes on…oh, everything. Use code BF2018. The customizable sports bras are super cute but despite having, um, plenty of real estate…my name is a little too long to fit across.

Me! If you’re local to NYC, I’m now teaching 1:1 yoga sessions (or can do a small group if you have one). My intro rate is going to be $75/hour, but if you sign up before 12/1 (you can book here)  you can access my Black Friday/Cyber Monday/whatever the hell we’re calling all of this for just $50. A friend I practiced on last week called me “soothing.” I’ll let you in on a little secret: my nervous and soothing voice are the same. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’m also offering a discount on my 1:1 run coaching—normally $100/month, you can sign up for $75/month!

Other Sales

Nordstrom: They’re running a sale of up to 60% off, including a sweet 40% off my very favorite bra.  (Note: sizing is weird: I sized up from a D to a DDD). I hate winter, and I hate boots, but my “favorite” (as in, if I have to wear winter boots…) boots are on sale. They’re still expensive but they’re so so worth it.

Shopbop: An extra 30% off all sale items with code WOW18. I think this book could be a great hostess gift.

Lilly Pulitzer: I’m sort of obsessed with Lilly Pulitzer? (If you’ve read here for more than a hot second, you know that, though.) The brand never does Black Friday sales, but they do offer a gift with purchase, and I have to say the pillow that comes with the $75 spend there is CUTE. And it’s pretty hard NOT to hit $75 there…unless you’re just buying a phone case. Which…I probably need.

Bloomingdales25% off items marked 25% off—including some awesome deals on jeans, which is awesome if you have a brand you know works for you that is included. Sadly, there’s no rag + bone, my fave.

Target: 15% off site wide…which brings to mind this meme:

No one goes to target because they need something you 31180759

Also, I just bought these slippers. As a gift. For a woman named Theodora. They’re only $20! There’s also some sweet deals on Instant Pots, if you’re in the market. (Should I be in the market?? I keep going back and forth…)

Plus, if you have a vacation planned, I love Target’s swimsuits, especially their Shade & Shore line.

AmazonThis could totally be its own post, but here’s a few picks:
Roku for $29!!! I don’t have cable, and so I use my Roku DAILY, and, tbh, felt a little lost without it in CA. (I also felt lost without wifi, but that’s another story for another day.)

$5 off HappyLights:  While there were obviously a ton of other things at play during my intense depression earlier this year, it’s hard to ignore that it was also during winter…so I’m attempting to try a light box this year to combat the lack of sunshine during NYC winters. Although I’m game to try pretty much anything, study or no study, there is legit evidence showing at least some level of effectiveness with the light boxes.

Weighted Blanket: OK, this one isn’t on sale…but is still worth bringing up, just because I love it. I’ve laid under it when I’m having a panic attack, and I curl up in it on the couch often.

Gray MalinSo, Grace’s blog is one of the few I still read…and let me tell you, reading it is an expensive habit! We have very similar taste in things, so I just want to buy everything I read about… and Gray Malin photos are one of the expensive desires she’s turned me on to. His photography just makes me so happy, though… I MEAN ALSO, LLAMAS. He rarely does sales, and he’s doing a Cyber/Black/Everything sales of 30% off with code TURKEY30.

Beautycounter: 15% off everything. I don’t sell it any more, but my faves were the nourishing night cream and Vitamin C

J. Crew Factory: This coat looks SO cute, and is only $98, down from $229! Also J. Crew: my puffer coat is on sale for less than $80!! SNAP THAT UP if you need a new puffer that isn’t entirely awful. (I feel about boots the way I do about winter coats…)

Athleta: 20% off sitewide with code BOOST. This wrap looks so cozy to snuggle up in after yoga…

Lululemon:  (Or…Luluberry, if you were my mom.) It’s so rare that they actually have a sale, that this is WORTH hitting up. My picks: their Enlite bra (weird fact: of all the stuff I’ve linked to throughout the years: y’all seem to trust my boob recommendations most, clicking the most on bra links.) I don’t need a backpack…but this one is PRETTY.

Rewards Programs

So, I have several different browser extensions running at all time to help me find deals when I shop, or earn money on stuff I’d buy anyway. I get pop-ups telling me what I can save or what money I can get back. Here’s what I have running (and yes, I know they slow down my browser a bit, but it’s worth it to me.)

Ebates: Their deals today are LEGIT. For example, Kate Spade is 15% cash back, Amazon is up to 10%, Bloomingdale’s is 15%.

Honey: This is another browser extension, and it searches for discount codes as you’re checking out. This link gets each of us $5 when you make a purchase. I’ve even been able to get money off Seamless with it!

Delta: If you’re also a points whore (this is how I take long-haul flights every New Year’s), and you don’t have this browser extension, you’re just doing life all wrong. Some Cyber Monday rewards: Nike is 25% off with code CYBER, AND you get 4 miles per dollar. One note: these Delta deals can’t always be stacked with other deals.

New Yorker: $6 for 12 weeks of digital access…and a tote bag. I need inspiration of quality writing, and The New Yorker is one of the best examples of this.

How I’m Getting Through a Tough Holiday Season

I had no idea how good I had it.

My first 31 holiday seasons were blissfully simple. Sure, there was some drama here and there, because what’s a family without drama? But there was an abundance of everything: love, food, gifts. My parents were together, and we spent every holiday with extended family, too.

All of that changed three years ago when my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. We spent that Thanksgiving crying into our sweet potatoes as we all feared her road ahead, though she had a good prognosis at the time. We were all in total shock. I had no idea that would be the last Thanksgiving I’d spend with her.

The following year, we’d just learned that her cancer had returned after a brief remission. I remember going to my cousin’s alone for the holiday, while my mom laid sick on the couch. Larger than life, my mom was already missed that day, even though she was still alive. Last year, my angel of a best friend accompanied me home to spend the day with my dad and extended family. We toasted my mom with her favorite wine, a sickly sweet German Riesling, as we went around the table sharing our favorite memories of her, through big, hot tears. The music switched to Christmas music at the end of dinner, and with those first sparkling notes of the season came the profoundly deep, raw pain that was nearly as deep as her initial loss.

This will be my second Thanksgiving without her on this earth, the second Thanksgiving of the rest of my life. They say all the “firsts” are the hardest, and I hope they are right, whoever they are.

Here’s what I plan to do to get through, and some ideas for you if you’re in a similarly difficult situation:

  • Writing, writing, writing. My therapist (a writer herself) once told me: “Theodora, I think you’re going to write your way out of this.”

    She recommends writing letters to your lost loved one. Let me tell you, this has been nearly impossible for me to do without tears (waterproof mascara is your friend here). Part of that stinging of pain of loss is those severed lines of communication, and writing to them patches that, just a bit.

    This is probably the most cliche of them all, but cultivating a gratitude practice. Every day for the past few weeks, I’ve been writing down just five things I’m grateful for, large or small. In tough times, it really puts things into perspective and reminds me of what I do have–not what I don’t. What are you grateful for today? Hit reply, I’d genuinely love to hear.

    Today I’m grateful for: heat in my apartment, the resiliency I’ve built, being back in the same city as my favorite people in the world, taking the time to journal and meditate, and my hair. (Hey, it’s not always deep.)

    You don’t need a fancy notebook—hell, you can journal on the back of a receipt!—but a fancy notebook never hurts, right? My current favorite: these Denik layflat notebooks. Not only are they pretty, but the proceeds also go to a good cause, funding education projects around the world.

  • Yoga. Teaching and taking. I had no idea how fulfilling teaching could be. Yoga has helped me immensely as a coping mechanism, and it’s filling my heart sharing that with others.
  • Doing something that makes me happy. You don’t need to be a martyr! Unsurprisingly, I’ll be doing a workout to keep myself (somewhat?) sane.
  • Being careful with the booze. Oh man, I love me a glass of wine (or three) as much as the next person. But…alcohol is a depressant. You may already know this, but it’s worth repeating when you’re sad. More things I learned the hard way: if you’re on an antidepressant, alcohol makes it ineffective–thus, you’re doubly screwed. #thingslearnedwhilehospitalized
  • PROJECTS! I’m my mother’s daughter. The woman thought the answer to most things was some sort of project, which generally involved organizing. While I didn’t get that gene, I’m using the holidays to do my own type of projects: creative ones. I’m launching this newsletter, working on a podcast, working on my book proposal.


Grief Is a Change Agent (Modern Loss): I love this idea of turning your grief into a force for good. In a smaller way, this is what I hope to do through my writing, but I’m always thinking about other ways to use my experience to help others through this pain.

Pleasure Isn’t Happiness (Furthermore): Oh, this is TOO GOOD. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been guilty of chasing moments of pleasure en route to happiness, but this is a valuable reminder to not conflate pleasure with happiness.

The Next Chapter (Atelier Dore): This is about a breakup, but man—it applies to any situation. There’s one part that talks about being told congratulations for the breakup. After being laid off last year, I had drinks with a former leader of that company, and when I sat down, she said “Congratulations, Theodora—I’m so excited for what this means for your next chapter.” I could appreciate the sentiment at the time, but the sentiment is even deeper today.

If you’re also going through a potentially tough holiday season from grief, Claire Bidwell Smith’s newsletter is priceless—she’s doing a special series about coping during the holidays.


What about you? What are your challenges getting through the holidays?