Can I be an outsider too?

 

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So there’s this line called Band of Outsiders, right? I only just stumbled over them recently. Actually, it was more so a collision, if we’re taking the phrase literally (taking things literally makes life more fun). Because if I were a skier, and Band of Outsiders was a premature tree poking through the snow, it was the type of collision that would make chair-lift onlookers nudge each other to gape at the apparent snowball-human hybrid tumbling down the slope.

My cheeks burn a regrettable red from fashion ineptitude.

See, Band of Outsiders isn’t just a blip on peoples’ fashion radars. They have a dominant, well-respected place in the industry, with Karlie Kloss as recent arm candy for designer Scott Sternberg, and a whole fleet of A-lister names donning the  label on polaroid film, on the red carpet, and on-the-daily. And I had no clue they existed. I had no clue that there was this whole line that embraced minimalist, tastefully flattering  cuts without being boring or pretentious and certainly without being safe. Nor that the designer collaborated with Starbucks to launch these kick-ass ceramic mugs, adorning creative juices dripping down their sides. Not even that their website featured models with bunnieskitties & jumping poses that made every outfit so much more inviting to wear than if they were doing the typical look-at-me-in-this-too-expensive-for-you-outfit-ha-ha-ha-you-suck pose.

So I have come to a radical conclusion, in light of my sudden fan-girling over Band of Outsiders. These are the kind of outsiders that you want to be a part of. Not the popular kids, but the cool kids who have that air of effortlessness that doesn’t come with a designer handbag or commercially-distressed jeans. Their Facebook feeds, if they even have one, are littered with posts (like this for mother’s day and this for father’s day) that make you think, “Damn, I should have thought of that.” And, of course, to top it off, they show up to any occasion with a genuine smile, a polaroid camera, and a cat named Atticus.

Forget being an insider. I wanna be an outsider.

Here are some goodies from their Summer/Spring 2014 season. Meow.

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Seventies-inspired running shorts are the only kind of running shorts one should advocate.

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Most likely jumping in spring’s puddles, like the chic gladiator she is. (Gladiators spent a lot of time jumping in puddles – please don’t burst my hilarious bubble.)

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Aren’t they all so positively joyous? Don’t you want to reach out and say, hey, let’s go to some indie movie together with our bright yellow raincoats on and slowly sweat in our seats?

Here’s a peek at their upcoming Fall and Pre-Fall 2014 season. This cheery gal just makes me so happy (although I know I’d be just as chipper if I were wearing those clothes). Serious kudos to Band of Outsiders for single-handedly recruiting my now-favourite models to wear their stylin’ garments.

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#tbt the days of playing with cars like it ain’t no thang

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Among their devoted fans are some casual Hollywood nobility. In fact, the famed red shirt Joaquin Phoenix donned so regularly in “Her” is from Band of Outsiders’ 2005 season. Who woulda thunk? Apparently not me-from-three-days-ago! My favourite starlets (sorry to call you a “starlet”, Andrew Garfield) are shot in polaroid film, too, in true hipster fashion.

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^That’s Scott Sternberg. The brackets do him justice, to say the least.

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Have a lovely day, outsiders! (I’m assuming I’ve convinced you to become an outsider too. Let’s band together, folks.)

*m

Just do what you’re good at!

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When the words “I just don’t know what to do with my life” slip out of my mouth, recklessly and often to the wrong person, I always imagine the word fool trailing on the end of their answer. “Just do what you love, fool.” It’s as if I’m being absurdly ignorant to some sort of widespread fact/piece of common knowledge that everyone has picked up along the way – like how to ride a bike, or how to walk, or how to, you know, breathe. The same knowing eyes and hasty shift in conversation generally follow such an answer. Honestly, I should probably leave the soul-searching to myself. Because it’s not just asking about a job; it’s asking about how to spend your whole damn life. And that’s terrifying. I’m also pretty sure that it didn’t just come to someone over night or right out of the womb. (Pleasant imagery on that one. But please do picture a baby whose first words are, “Chief Executive Officer of Nest Labs! Now burp me.”) So chances are they fell into a career and so what words of advice are they expected to give to this hopeful young lass in front of them? “Hah! To be honest I just kinda made my way here through a connection here and there, a lay off or two, and one and a half mid-life crises!” To which my response would be: *faint*. And even still, with the same answer over and over, I know it’s coming, I can see it in their eyes by now – that trademark shift from the ordinary territory of small talk to the uneven ground of embarking wisdom - still, I just can’t help but blurting out the question in the hopes that someone will say… (answer still pending, probably something revolutionary).

In light of this, I am frustrated. An undergraduate student entering into third year doesn’t feel particularly chipper when they think of the job market ahead and don’t even know which market they’re looking at. The whole thing? Is it staying that general for me at this point? Maybe. So my first semi-selfish word of advice to society as whole is (yep, suddenly I’m in the position to give advice to society as a whole – oh, what authority blogging has given me): Take a chill pill on making sure that the leaders of tomorrow “know what they want to do” by the time they’re 18. They won’t. Generally speaking, this whole mantra of “knowing” what you will do with your life a$ap needs to be slowly laid to rest for the sake of every twenty-something’s anxiety levels. And I understand that 20 years old is young. Some of you would probably roll your eyes at the fact that I expect to know what I want to do with my life at this age, but really I just want to have an inkling of an idea about where I should be looking. So this isn’t necessarily about finding a job. It’s about finding this oh-so-elusive “passion”.

Sidenote: I sincerely wish we were all given a year or two after graduation to explore ourselves and the world without hearing the booming seconds of a job clock ticking on by. Sure, that sounds cheesy, but I’m serious. If I were president of the world, it would be the first platform point I’d make. No keeners skipping over your head with their diploma in hand, snatching up the jobs just because they were lucky enough to know what they wanted to do with their life. Oh, no. It would be the most natural next step in the world, and as we all slip on cloaks to signify to everyone around us where we’re at, they would say in voices tinged with nostalgia, “Ah yes. They’re in the exploring stage.” Some would explore every nook and cranny of their hometowns, intent on seeking out every secret that has languished inside the walls they’ve passed, and others would travel far across the world, leaving a trail of their wanderlust behind them. (Sadly, no one would vote for me if this was my only platform point. And the president of the world position is currently non-existent. Look it up. ;))

BUT! I came across some brilliant words of advice (10 Job-Hunting Tips) from the hubby of one of the gals behind A Beautiful Mess for all of us who won’t be wearing exploring cloaks anytime soon. For those of us who know what we love, and have failed on nearly every occasion to try to box that into a career, consider this: Simply do what you’re good at. Not what you like. Because if you are like me, and your “passion” is either a) unknown or b) not going to work out in the long run, then do what you’re good at, and save what you like for a hobby. I know a handful of people who are taking this advice. A friend of mine has, for example, always known that he wants to travel. Not in the way of business-travel, but rather seeing and exploring this beautiful world without it being tied to a career. So he has accepted a career-life of dentistry. Now this is bound to provide him with ample funds so that he can travel to his heart’s content. And I consider this a very wise choice.

But, a couple questions.

What on earth are you supposed to do if you haven’t the faintest clue what you’re even good at? I’m moderately well-equipped in what feels like a lot of areas, but that doesn’t do much for me (or it doesn’t feel that way). It’s like I need to start training right this second to reach that lofty goal of gathering 10,000 hours under my belt in some skill – HTML coding? Painting? Rapping? (Likely.) Of course, I don’t even know which skill would be the best selling asset for a career (other than rapping), because, quite simply, I can’t decide what career that will eventually be.

If you’re following along with my struggles here, then we’re on the same page. Glorious. Good to place to be, eh? (Just kidding, let’s grab some ice cream and turn on Orange Is the New Black.) Well friend, let’s turn to zenhabits.net. The wisest of all my friends (who don’t know they’re friends with me – relationships are a one way street, ignore what others say) and who has always been able to dish out some advice that is much needed. It started with this: how to find your passion. Now if I truly, truly, truly can’t find my passion, I will adamantly head down the route where I hone my skills to absolute supremacy in some area… but for once in my life, I want to be able to resonate with people when they say to follow your passion. I just need to find it. The “just” makes it seem as though this is a ten minute inner quest of exploration, but just with a quick scroll it’s easy to see that this is a much more demanding, but much more rewarding, journey.

I’ll break it down.

He asks the following of you.

  1. What are you good at?
  2. What excites you?
  3. What do you read about?
  4. What have you secretly dreamed of?
  5. Learn, ask, take notes.
  6. Experiment, try.
  7. Narrow things down.
  8. Banish your fears.
  9. Find the time.
  10. How to make a living doing it.

So the first four questions are easy-peasy in comparison to the latter ones. I’m currently on the five’er. After pondering the first four questions for 30 minutes each (which goes by pleasantly quickly when sprawled on the beach), I’ve chosen the one thing that I’ve never let stray too far from the possibilities of what my future might bring: architecture. But already I feel rewarded with this “inner-quest” because that occupation, future passion, interest, whatever you want to call it, has been validated. The first four questions left me with at least a couple answers that laid the foundation for a position in architecture. And that brought, more than anything, relief. Honest relief. It’s difficult to understand what draws you to certain jobs. Vanity? Fame? Laziness? Simple persuasion? But when I see that there’s a web of skills and interests all weaving themselves into the profession I’ve often considered intriguing, that’s unbelievably satisfying.

Some personal thoughts on the guide.

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…take a me day with it

Try to tie together certain ideas to see which career path they fit into, even if you were never expecting it. For example, I had down that I enjoyed giving presentations, was moderately good at drawing and sketching, and liked working with kids. So, of course, the possibility of teaching tiptoed by and for the first time in a while, I didn’t reject it altogether because I saw that it encompassed quite a few of my skills and enjoyments.

Write down anything you can think of (even if it’s silly). Decipher what it means later. Now don’t force meaning onto it, but at least be open to a message that’s in between the lines. For example, I wrote down, “good at walking quietly.” It’s a true part of me, yes. Now since I’m really good at walking quietly, I could be an FBI agent. Who woulda thunk? (Don’t worry. Such logic did not take place. Just thought I’d show you the extent of how silly you can get with this list to lighten the whole soul-searching mood up.)

Most of all, do not rush this. Some of the best points, most surprising points, were hurriedly written down in the last few minutes. Certainly don’t think of it as a testing situation (can you just imagine if there was a testing period where we had to find out what our passions were – let the sobbing begin), but more so a chance to explore every dusty corner of your brain, where the fog has settled over some truly golden experiences, no matter how small, that could hint at something that changed you and excited you.

Take a “me day” to do this. Go to the beach, your favourite café, stretch it out over a couple days and just start with being aware. I know I don’t go about my days thinking about how to find my passion. God, that would be exhausting. But most days something gets your heart pumping. Write it down. Soak it up.

Also, drop me a line on where your own thoughts are at with this shtuff! I’d love to know how other people are navigating through this. Really, I find it fascinating to see how people cope with the odds and ends of this question, because has it ever really been answered? Stated with confidence, unabashedly, this is how you find your passion? 

Finally, thanks for taking a read, if you’ve made it this far. I genuinely hope you don’t go banging your head against the wall at the futility of your reading this. Instead, I hope you felt some pangs of resonance and most of all, I hope you have a lovely, lovely, lovely day. Now get outta here and find your passion, ya silly thing!

 

All my best,

*m

 

Lingering upon Alice Gao’s creativity

Today, I thank the world for photography. Correction, Alice Gao. Because, unfortunately, under the realm of photography is the likes of selfies, and so I can’t say I thank the whole world.

But I’m just gonna come clean and say it – selfies are such a gift. Come on, they’re super liberating. You have all the power in the world to be as pleased as you like with your photo, rather than having your face’s fate quivering in the hands of that stranger at the party who snapped you and a friend out of the blue, leaving you like a couple of deer in headlights with excessive makeup on. (What an image. I enjoy it.)

So on second thought, yes, I thank the world for photography and selfies.

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Alice Gao, though, really must be the reigning queen of this world. Or at least for me, on this day, and since I’ve found her. For example, I can’t decide whether or not I’d like to hang the finished painting alone or the photo itself of the painting still dripping from the creative process. As in, with the palette still fresh and the bottles looking as if they have given every last drop of their creative juices to the canvas at hand. And the strips of moody navy, slowly peaking towards the colour the artist was looking for. She makes her photo a piece of art, when it is itself featuring a piece of art. Now that’s ingenuity.

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And here, although these flowers look as though they’re fit for a palace or among tight circles serving high tea, the griminess of the sink and the crossing strips of metal on the window serve as a humble stage for the royally strewn stems.

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Caught mid-packaging, I see every bit of the efforts we take in creating something beautiful from head to toe for a recipient we care about. Cut string, labels messied about from choosing just the right one, stamps even. It’s as if Gao is floating in and out of our lives and pauses these moments in the most unexpected lights.

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Ah. This I adore. The composition has allowed for an immense dark sky to hover over the vibrancy of the flowers, the normalcy of morning tea. But this colour to me is not laden with grief or gloom, but blanketing comfort, lifted just enough so that we can see the light she has captured.

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I almost feel as though I’m viewing more so a portrait of a portrait than a scene of an apartment. The framing of this portrait, however asymmetrical, focuses the lady staring right back at us. The to-die-for gold and marble end table elevates her to a point of eye-level, as if we’re about to enter into an enlightening conversation with the woman before us (who I have no doubt has some bad-ass stories to tell).

ps. white brick wall alert. yes, i am swooning.

And oh my golly gee willickers, I just found her blog, Lingered Uponand I did a helluva lot more than just linger. I think I just moved in unannounced. Here’s a sneak peek of her posts, slash justification of my rudeness:

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Just everything about this outfit makes me feel like a savvy, stylin’, successful photographer.

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And just everything about this makes me want to just be her for a day. Those boots. That espresso. That style.

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A true heartbreaker

Everything about coffee is comforting. Its smell, its inherently soothing quality at any time of day, and the mugs we curl our hands around. Especially if said mugs are polka-dotted, just sayin’. I don’t drink it anymore, otherwise I turn into a frazzled, anxious, monster of procrastination. I call myself a monster because suddenly I start opening four tabs every minute and scrolling through tumblr as if I were at gunpoint. So, yes, I did plenty of experimenting in first year.

But now I’ve discovered the beauty of heartbreak coffee, who from their own establishment in Long Beach, CA, captures that comfort and delivers it promptly to my instagram feed. It was love at first sight as I perused through their photos, each as well lit and charmingly rustic as the last.

Samples of brilliance. 
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Heartbreak Coffee doesn’t seem to be a heartbreaker to me at all. In fact, I think it’s meant for the heartbreaks – a cup of coffee that looks good can soothe our hearts any day. The only heartbreak I have to deal with is the fact that I’m on the other side of the country from them… one day.

p.s. inspired me to follow a gaggle of beautiful instagrams. Mayhaps some peaks are coming in the near future. ;)

*m

Let’s make time look even more precious

For some reason, 2014 sounds about five years farther away than it should, but I’m happy to say hello to a new year (even if it knocked at my door with what seemed like a day’s notice). And even though it came quickly, the last few hours before ’13 gave its final bow were brilliant. 

Given my startled reaction to shifting the calendar year up one, I might as well have something pretty to look at while I keep count of the days, am I right?

A big ol’ moon. I’m getting starry eyed just thinking about having this in my room.il_fullxfull.509059526_erus il_fullxfull.538196432_wfto

This calendar’s a gem. il_fullxfull.527463044_tw2l

Woodland creatures, particularly that of a literally smiling deer, can brighten anyone’s day. il_fullxfull.539162261_9phs

Birdy time. And story time: I’ve had my ups and downs with how I feel about crows. You can call our relationship something of a hate-love-hate type of thing. Although now I get that these aren’t crows, because crows are all black… but I can’t leave ya hanging now, can I? Quite simply, I was stalked by a pack of five crows, and I believe they were intent on the sub in my hands. Of course, as they squawked angrily at me, I just started eating the thing faster. After it was all done, they formed a grudge because whenever I would leave my house, they still followed me. Research (always taken with a grain of salt) for you to verify that I am not exaggerrating.  precious

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*m

Accentuated

What would the French language be without accents? Why do accents even exist, aside from the comedic appearance of a hat on top of an assortment of letters? Although I can’t stand here and say to you with a straight face that I’m fluent in the language of love, there’s still an inkling of an answer in my mind: to guide us through the twirls and leaps of each sentence, accentuating the romanticism I envision when someone speaks French.

And how are rooms any different than languages? A room can divulge whole stories to you that otherwise would have remained quiet, because seeing how people choose to surround themselves in a place they identify as home reveals the comforts they can’t live without, be it a single picture frame with a pair of familiar eyes staring back at them, or whole galleries to keep them company.

The details lie in the accents people choose to display, as though they are surrendering bits and pieces of themselves to those allowed in.

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A white wall has always seemed to be the perfect, and most literal, blank canvas for a room to show off details that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. Take the vertical row of pegs, all perfectly aligned with the hanging light as if they were pointing our eyes towards it. White walls have always been my weakness for this reason, because they do so while washing the whole room over in what I feel is such purity.

But if you’re like me, this weakness may have shifted. I am proud to announce I have a new unforgivable weakness – a block of colour against a set of white walls that has such depth and moodiness and warmth all at the same time that to sit anywhere in its vicinity I’d feel as though I was in a sea, or a night sky in the last of its hours before the sun rises.

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Aside from how charming this little boy looks, and really quite proud with his overwhelmingly large collar extending over his cardigan, the most striking part of this photo is where he is placed. An unconventional placement of artwork is deliberate, bold, and unabashedly inviting.

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And so I meet my original weakness again, but this time it’s not the block of colour surprising me but the copper fixture to hang elegant and minimalist garments. If only I had clothes that I didn’t, from time to time, want to hide away from any peaking eyes, including my own. Although, can you really blame me? That sweater with two moth holes from three years ago will definitely be perfect for something. ;)

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You know how I can tell this was chosen by a man? Because any real man is never really sick of playing with dinosaurs, even if he pretends it’s just a bookend for visitors. Although, to be fair, as a real-life woman, I wholeheartedly advocate any need for a toy dinosaur in my room. 

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Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of choosing all of the special details that give a room a story is that any one detail that may be the feature accent for you won’t be for another. That chalkboard, for most, could be the “accent winner” because it’s obviously the most hilarious way to keep your routine in check, but for my music-lover boyfriend sitting next to me, it’s most likely the pair of headphones waiting to be slipped on just next to it.

Everyone will indulge in a different part of a room if done right. In my opinion, anyway.

What’s a bit of your room you couldn’t do without? For me, it’s a face-off between a summer scarf draped between two hooks as a sort of hippy-dippy headboard, and a poster of a sunlit forest that literally soothes my core with a glance. 

*m

 

 

Working Bees Like Collages

Oh, the ambitious vision I had for my college work space. Sleek white shelves against a DIY wallpaper background, inspirational posters and family photos interspersed below them, and maybe a fox in a velvet green suit with a monocle framing a curious eye (a figurine, of course, otherwise that’s just unrealistic). But what am I left with? An incomplete wall of corkboard circles, and a makeshift collage I had recruited myself to take on for the school newspaper’s LifeStyle section (where I happen to work, otherwise I wouldn’t force the editors to feature my little DIY project).

All I can do now is pick up from where I started. Complete a collage that is both buzzing with motivation (I do aspire to be a working bee) and free from the chaos that comes with collages fit for a fan-girling teenager.

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Christmas gifts this year will be opened meticulously carefully so that I can essentially use them as itty bitty scraps of art. I’m sorry, family. It will take me anywhere from three – five minutes to open gifts this year.

70b40a16b95d7c492225bfef925b7c3eLiteral inspiration board. To be precise, a wood board. If I had the luxury of having an office that was all glamour and all white, a rustic wooden board would be so welcomed.

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Organized inspiration. Plus, the peachy-pink colour palette of this scene is too soothing. (I even have a little set of rainbow clothes pins… intriguing).

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Three perfectly framed words of motivation, forcing you to be picky about what you put up in front of you, and to choose only those that are more personalized to what you need to hear. For example, I don’t particularly like hearing the “rough and burly coach” type of motivation screaming at me, “That’s all you got?! Hah! Come on!” Instead I welcome an Australian yoga teacher anyday saying, “Breathe, and take one day at a time.” (Accents can vary.) Also that pink skull is very necessary.

09c4ec85a0b4d2aebf1012d1bceb7939This is almost more like a showroom than an office. As soon as I slip into my desk chair, I can imagine myself itching to grab a tube of red lipstick and getting down to business in the mode of some high-fashion magazine editor. I might also snap at someone for a tall, non-fat no-sugar latté. And yet the colour in this room is a constant display of optimism to me. Every detail is soaked in vibrancy, and although some may grow tired of this amount of bold detail (myself included), if work is only requiring a couple hours of your time then I can’t imagine a better energy booster.

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This room takes that optimism and plays it down a bit. Its presence is still hanging off each frame, each antler horn, each banner, yet it takes on a more subtle form with the more rustic backdrop of a white brick wall. There’s a little more room for mistakes, and a big reminder that that’s most certainly “ok”.

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Oh, IKEA, you Swedish creative masterminds. Taking a circular cork board as bubbles of inspiration boards is the most refreshing twist of tradition. I tried this in my own room, and I’m quite pleased with it, if it weren’t for the lack of symmetry. I wish I had one or two more to complete my equally Swedish, not quite as creative (as I didn’t exactly come up with) office space.