thinking ’bout my hobbit hole

I’ll be moving to TO this summer & for the following year. We’re doing it. Somehow, we found a place, I found one of two jobs, and the neighbourhood had my prerequisite of habitable coffee shops.

My boyfriend and I signed a lease to our affectionately coined “hobbit hole” – although that’s really just for kicks, we lucked out – and now, for the first time in, well, ever, I have a somewhat legitimate purpose for spending every morning in the well-decorated realities of my Pinterest feed.

My hobbit hole requires four lines of duty:

  1. Find more light. We have a few windows, and they do a pretty impressive job, thank you windows, but we need more. To offer you a picture of how much I crave light, I often find myself, inexplicably, standing in the pools of light that form anywhere in my home. If I need to stand directly in front of the window like a pyschopath, so if you someone looked up they would just see me there, closing my eyes, soaking in that Vitamin D, then so be it.
  2. What colour scheme? And is this just a Martha Stewart mentality? Do people actually decide on a colour scheme before they delve in, or do they find one piece and go from there?
  3. Create more space. There’s no denying it’s a small space (we called it hobbit hole for a reason), but ain’t nothing like some space illusions. I have read that keeping a monochromatic palette works wonders for that, and this makes intuitive sense. I’m actually quite thrilled with the idea of swirling around one or two colours on my metaphorical paint palette – perhaps a creamy blush colour, or glowing milky white.
  4. Win at thrifting/deal scavenging. Because we are both students. ‘Nuff said.

So, readers, any of you, I beseech you: what was moving into your first apartment like? How did you succeed at any of the lines of duty above?

In the meantime, #inspiration:

 :

andrea-papini-elle-decor-interiors-scandinavian-stockholm-home-oracle-fox

andrea-papini-elle-decor-interiors-scandinavian-stockholm-home-oracle-fox

Poppytalk: 10 Trends on Our Radar for 2016 (Part 1):
Paint this a splash of colour, and I’m in.

Guest bedroom makeover:

old-brand-new-blog-green-desk-space-home-office:

colorful paris penthouse designed by Fusion D / sfgirlbybay:
I will never have moldings like this on my wall in TO, but a girl can dream. Holler at me if you know of any nifty DIYs, actually.
neutral color palette via jj locations. / sfgirlbybay

//1, 2 + 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Advertisements

invite me over: Sherlock meets Waldo

 

To some, having a desk at the end of their bed might look like a pair of handcuffs. And I totally get that. We all want to wake up and pretend, just for a brief, glorious moment in time, that our lives really do just consist of solo coffee dates, lengthy bubble baths, and perhaps, if we’re feeling particularly motivated, matinee movies.

But if we must work, then we must do what we love (or so everybody likes to muse as though they’re telling you this information for the first time). And the fella that lives here? He’s an art expert, world traveller, and interior designer. Meet Rodman Primack. Or meet the man that leads the life we all wish we had.

Below, a peak at his enviably cultured apartment in NYC, courtesy of Architectural Digest.

Yes, we’ve seen that gnome before… this week’s Wednesday Feast was teasing you and you didn’t even know it. 😉

It’s hard to put your finger on just where in the world his style is coming from. I see Spain, Morocco, France, Belgium, even the otherworldly (I’m looking at you, gnome boy). Yet everything comes together with such clarity. His galleries are a masterfully curated example of this, featuring each corner of the world all at the same time so that we witness one fantastical scene of cultural diversity.

Primack’s playfulness with proportions seems to come naturally to him, too. Where we might expect smaller accents of color, we see paintings, plants, and light fixtures dominating the scene, unabashedly testing our limits.

The result, of course, is an apartment that sacrifices our expectations for relentlessly eclectic fun. Sherlock-meets-Waldo kind of fun. And what’s more fun than that combo?

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend! Does anyone have any family/solo traditions for celebration? I’m really curious because sometimes they’re straight up hilarious/ I would like to live vicariously through you. For the past three years, Easter has been something of a semi-sweet occasion for me. On the one hand, I have the whole house to myself as my roomies flee to their respective homes, and on the other, I just think about how awesome it would be to have my seat back at home, a huge chicken and mashed potatoes filling my plate as my eyes grow four times their normal size in anticipation of eating.

Regardless, everyone seems particularly chipper during Easter weekend. Tulips, pastel colors, maybe the appearance of sun dresses if the weather permits – Easter really just doubles as one big celebration of spring, baby!

*m

wednesday feast 2.0

Happy wednesday, folks! If your week isn’t going the way you want it to, press the reset button. Wake up on the other side of the bed. Drink mint tea with lemon & honey instead of coffee. Dab on some red lips. Sprint for two blocks to feel like superwoman. Do a jig to your guilty pleasure on YouTube and then tackle the scariest thing on your to-do list, even if it’s just thinking about it.

Or, enjoy some mid-week inspiration with your wednesday feast.

*dezignnn*

Gnome, gnome, gnome, gnome, I repeat, gnome in the house

This space is so deliciously lived in. And I love that, because it’s so rare to see.

My instagram feed is stuffed with photos of perfectly curated lives. I trick myself into thinking that this is a reality, and, on some days, that’s nice! But on others, I need a dose of reality that looks more close to home.

I’m not saying this European sun-kissed bathroom looks anything like my reality (maybe it will one day), but it looks like an honest depiction of someone else’s. And that, my friends, is as soothing as that deep, sumptuous bath.

studded hearts/what should i eat for breakfast today/pinterest/the design files/honestly wtf/pinterest

*fashunnn*

zara/whowhatwear/unknown/the sartorialist/madewell

*podcast*

tumblr_static_11

If you are ever in need of girlfriend chats on the way to class, work, coffee, breakfast, ballroom dancing, get on this podcastI want to be friends with the hosts so bad – they are equal parts hilarious, witty, and feminist. Friend crushing hard.

“Multiple glasses of wine, chatting both confidence and thigh gaps plus menstruation in space. Where have you been all my life, Call Your Girlfriend?” –Holly Gordon (It’s true. The pilot episode features lotsa wine n’ giggles.)

*dessert*

Airbnb is the new food gawker. Okay, so, up front, not at all. But it is safe to say that airbnb is the foodgawker for interior design & travel. I recently found this Victorian gem in San Francisco and now fully plan on trying my hand at the aristocratic life (read: Downton Abbey life) some time.

 *receipt treat*

This illustration brought to you by a mysterious Asian pinterest board-like platform that is only for drawings and illustrations like this! Oh what you can find on internet travels.

*m

a little tour

chezadriennetitle Everybody has that friend who defies all previously held notions of “effortlessly cool.” You know, the one who wakes up in the morning, picks out any of the perfectly classic numbers hanging in her closet and spends a little under five minutes preparing her face for the world. Everything just clicks. They just seem to get things.  For me, that friend is Adrienne, the bold-browed beauty smiling coyly below. We’ve been best friends going on a decade, which is half of my life thus far (winning at friendship, to put it bluntly), and she only embodies this stereotype more and more with each year. Should I be resentful? Hell, no, because she imparts her wisdom and unbridled inspiration on me every time I see her. This past weekend, though, my whole idea of my best friend just catapulted out of an ornate ceiling with stringed lights draped from an archway. In short, I visited her house and quickly died, went to the heaven reserved for vintage wares, crisp white walls, fireplaces-in-bedrooms, and historic architecture, and then came back to go for waffles. Her apartment almost brought tears to my eyes. So what kind of girl would I be if I didn’t share with you a home so perfect that I almost cried? Not an effortlessly cool one, let’s say that. chezadrienne

IMG_8622
An Etsy find from her sister, this clock was made out of recycled wood that has been stained and repurposed. This piece singlehandedly defines the room’s vibe for me. Hung just above a perfectly proper fireplace, Adrienne’s aesthetic of funky vibes mingling with opulence is the perfect greeting into her home.
IMG_8624
On asking why she chooses to have her (sweet n’ stylish) clothes on display: “It was originally something I bought out of necessity, but I ended up loving the way it brought colour and texture to the space; so much of what I gravitate toward is grey and boring, so having it all exposed forces me to have a little life in my room. It also makes what I own so visible – not just in the literal way – it makes me realize how much I have. It’s terrible how easily I can get caught up in feeling like I need to have new and trendy things (boo consumerism), but having it all on display is such a strong reminder not to be wasteful.”
IMG_8611
On what her favourite part of her room is: “I think my favourite part has to be the archway. As much as arches typically add ornate detail to a room, this one is actually pretty tacky and silly, and I love it. The original wood design was apparently so delicate that it just sort of fell apart with age, so the details were all redone in the 80s – hence the weird and silly retro spheres..”
IMG_8617
Galleries are so daunting to me, I don’t know why, mostly because I’m under the impression that you need real ART. Adrienne scored some vintage frames and record covers and suddenly I am rethinking my whole conception of what makes a “good” gallery. Personally, bringing in a level of intimacy and personality by displaying bits and pieces of your life – be it photos or album covers you’ve always had lying around – is much more interesting.
IMG_8645
“The vast majority of the items in the room are actually heirlooms and trinkets from the Granny, who passed away a few years ago. She was an incredible world traveller and collected a huge array of unique items over the years. When she died, she left all of them to my sister and I. We were all very close,and used to go over to her apartment and play dress-up with all of her costume jewels, or have fake tea parties with her ridiculously fancy silver and crystal tea sets (which I’m still not sure why she ever let us touch).”
IMG_8643
“The pearls, the tray, the lantern, and nearly all of the little things on the shelves belonged to her. I love having them around. It’s really comforting to come home and see little reminders of people you loved, especially in your own room. It really makes it feel like a sanctuary.”

IMG_8646 IMG_8614IMG_8641IMG_8650   Thank you, Adrienne, for letting me share your beautiful home with the world! It’s almost as cool as you are. (Yay, cheese!) Signing off, *m

dog eared tuesday: the unspeakable, meghan daum

This morning I read a piece over at Brain Pickings, and my innards are still stirring. Mostly because I feel as though it was directed right at me, and I was about as unprepared as a deer prancing across the highway in the middle of the night (sorry for the visual – deer in headlights is about as apt an image I have for myself right now). Maria Popova, the writer (or perhaps literary waitress) who served me a side of wisdom, reality, and unexpected saudade this morning to accompany my comparably innocent looking slices of french toast, couldn’t have possibly known that I’ve been bent on coming to terms with death lately. Death has a split-personality disorder, in my mind. It keeps showing up, right in front of me, slurring the words that one day everything that I love is going to go down with me, into some sort of intangible abyss of rotting organs (sorry). Or, there it is, legs crossed with a rather serene look about it, nodding over to me that spending time with death isn’t so bad. By the time your meeting rolls around, you’ll be ready for the kind of contemplative discourse I pose, she promises. Surrendering the remainder of your time won’t be so bad, especially if you believe that your lover, parents, and siblings are sitting cross legged right behind me. I have yet to figure out who she (he? it?) really is.

Meghan Daum introduced this line of thinking to me, with excerpts from her collection of personal essays, The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion. She elucidates how our minds, our past and future selves, adapt to aging, and how we have this tendency to constantly reshape our opinion of our past selves so that we are on “nodding terms” with them. After all, our past self is always a part of us, whether we like it or not, and it’s much easier to enjoy this past self than wish to be rid of it. She also confronts us with the idea that we may never attain that idealized older version of ourselves. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be just an idea – it seems an inevitable reality. Just as she says we romanticize our past selves, I think it’s safe to say that this older self we dream up in so many different ways, dependent upon the day, hour, situation, is romanticized to the same scale, if not more – the limits to the potential of this older self are unbounding. I could fill up whole novels on just one route my life could go; can you imagine how many trees I’d kill if I contemplated each and every route with just as much fervency?

Please, dig your teeth into a round of Popova’s concise, reflective review on Daum’s The Unspeakable. Your Tuesday morning deserves a little introspection; we’re hardly in that state enough. Let’s become comfortable in it together.

How We Become Who We Are: Meghan Daum on Nostalgia, Aging, and Why We Romanticize Our Imperfect Younger Selves

by

“Life is mostly an exercise in being something other than what we used to be while remaining fundamentally—and sometimes maddeningly—who we are.”

In her mind-bending meditation on what makes you and your young self the same person despite a lifetime of changes, philosopher Rebecca Goldstein pondered the philosophical conundrum of our “integrity of identity that persists over time, undergoing changes and yet still continuing to be.” Psychologists, meanwhile, have demonstrated that we’re woefully flawed at predicting the priorities of our future selves. Even so, Joan Didion was right to counsel in her classic essay on keeping a notebook that “we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.” But the most confounding thing about our relationship with the evolution of our own selves is that we tend to romanticize our youth even if we don’t find the versions of ourselves that inhabited it “attractive company” at all.

This conundrum is one of the many human perplexities Meghan Daum, one of the finest essayists of our time, explores in The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion (public library | IndieBound) — a magnificent collection of personal essays examining “the tension between primal reactions and public decorum” and aiming at “a larger discussion about the way human experiences too often come with preassigned emotional responses,” driven by a valiant effort to unbridle those messy, complex experiences from the simplistic templates with which we address them, both privately and publicly.

Meghan Daum (Photograph: Laura Kleinhenz)

In the introduction, Daum echoes Zadie Smith’s piercing critique of our platitudes-paved road to self-actualization and laments the hijacking of our darker, more disquieting emotions by the happiness industrial complex:

For all the lip service we pay to “getting real,” we remain a culture whose discourse is largely rooted in platitudes. We are told — and in turn tell others — that illness and suffering isn’t a ruthless injustice, but a journey of hope. Finding disappointment in places where we’re supposed to find joy isn’t a sign of having different priorities as much as having an insufficiently healthy outlook. We love redemption stories and silver linings. We believe in overcoming adversity, in putting the past behind us, in everyday miracles. We like the idea that everything happens for a reason. When confronted with the suggestion that life is random or that suffering is not always transcendent we’re apt to not only accuse the suggester of rudeness but also pity him for his negative worldview. To reject sentimentality, or even question it, isn’t just uncivilized, it’s practically un-American.

In one of the collection’s most pause-giving essays, titled “Not What It Used to Be,” Daum reflects on the conflicted, paradoxical nostalgia we tend to place on our youth — nostalgia woven of an openness of longing, as the infinite possibilities of life stretch ahead, but also of many misplaced longings for the wrong things, the dangerous things, the dangerously safe things. Daum writes:

Most of us have unconscious disbeliefs about our lives, facts that we accept at face value but that still cause us to gasp just a little when they pass through our minds at certain angles. Mine are these: that my mother is dead, that the Vatican actually had it in itself to select a pope like Pope Francis, and that I am now older than the characters onthirtysomething. That last one is especially upending. How is it that the people who were, for me, the very embodiment of adulthood, who, with their dinner parties and marital spats and career angst represented the place in life I’d like to get to but surely never will, are on average six to eight years my junior? How did I get to be middle-aged without actually growing up?

Illustration by Lisbeth Zwerger from a rare edition of ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Click image for more.

In a sentiment that calls to mind Maya Angelou’s unforgettable words on growing up, Daum adds:

Luckily, even some of the most confounding questions have soothingly prosaic answers. On the subject of growing up, or feeling that you have succeeded in doing so, I’m pretty sure the consensus is that it’s an illusion. Probably no one ever really feels grown-up, except for certain high school math teachers or members of Congress. I suspect that most members of AARP go around feeling in many ways just as confused and fraudulent as most middle school students. You might even be able to make a case that not feeling grown-up is a sign that you actually are, much as worrying that you’re crazy supposedly means you’re not.

Daum’s astonishment is especially resonant for those of us who compounded our dissatisfying college experience with the culturally inflicted guilt of feeling like not finding satisfaction there was a profound personal failure:

I managed to have such a mediocre time at a place that is pretty much custom designed for delivering the best years of your life. I’d like to say that I wasn’t the same person back then that I later became and now am. But the truth is that I was the exact same person. I was more myself then than at any other time in my life. I was an extreme version of myself. Everything I’ve always felt I felt more intensely. Everything I’ve always wanted, I wanted more. Everything I currently dislike, I downright hated back then. People who think I’m judgmental, impatient, and obsessed with real estate now should have seen me in college. I was bored by many of my classmates and irked by the contrived mischief and floundering sexual intrigues of dormitory life. I couldn’t wait to get out and rent my own apartment, preferably one in a grand Edwardian building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In that sense, I guess my college experience was just as intense as my husband’s. I just view that intensity negatively rather than nostalgically, which perhaps is its own form of nostalgia.

To illuminate that curious misplacing of nostalgia, Daum invokes an imaginary encounter between her present self and her older self — the concept behind an emboldening old favorite of letters by luminaries to their younger selves — in which Older Self ambushes Younger Self “like a goon sent in to settle a debt”:

At first, Younger Self is frightened and irritated (Older Self speaks harshly to her) but a feeling of calm quickly sets in over the encounter. Younger Self sits there rapt, as though receiving the wisdom of Yoda or of some musician she idolizes, such as Joni Mitchell. But Older Self is no Yoda. Older Self is stern and sharp. Older Self has adopted the emphatic, no-nonsense speaking style of formidable women with whom she worked in countless New York City offices before deciding she never again wanted to work anywhere but her own home (a place where, over the years, she has lost a certain amount of people skills and has been known to begin conversations as though slamming a cleaver into a side of raw beef). Older Self begins her sentences with “Listen” and “Look.” She says, “Listen, what you’re into right now isn’t working for you.” She says, “Look, do yourself a favor and get out of this situation right now. All of it. The whole situation. Leave this college. Forget about this boy you’re sleeping with but not actually dating. Stop pretending you did the reading for your Chaucer seminar when you didn’t and never will.”

To which Younger Self will ask, “Okay, then what should I do?” And of course Older Self has no answer, because Older Self did not leave the college, did not drop the boy, did not stop pretending to have read Chaucer. And the cumulative effect of all those failures (or missed opportunities, blown chances, fuckups, whatever) is sitting right here, administering a tongue-lashing to her younger self (which is to say herself) about actions or inactions that were never going to be anything other than what they were. And at that point the younger and older selves merge into some kind of floating blob of unfortunate yet inevitable life choices, at which point I stop the little game and nudge my mind back into real time and try to think about other things, such as what I might have for dinner that night or what might happen when I die. Such is the pendulum of my post-forty thoughts.

And yet the most paradoxical, most endearingly human thing is that most of us invariably fail to see our Younger Self as part of that amalgamated blob and instead romanticize it as the counterpoint to those “unfortunate yet inevitable life choices,” as our highest potentiality at a point before crumbling into the reality of necessary concessions and mediocrities. For all its cluelessness, for all its complicity in the making of our present dissatisfactions, we continue to worship youth — especially our own.

Reflecting on the disorienting fact — because that fact is always disorienting to those of whom it becomes factual — that nothing she ever does will ever be preceded by the word young again, Daum writes:

Any traces of precocity I ever had are long forgotten. I am not and will never again be a young writer, a young homeowner, a young teacher. I was never a young wife. The only thing I could do now for which my youth would be a truly notable feature would be to die. If I died now, I’d die young. Everything else, I’m doing middle-aged.

I am nostalgic for my twenties (most of them, anyway; twenty and twenty-one were squandered at college; twenty-four was kind of a wash, too) but I can tell you for sure that they weren’t as great as I now crack them up to be. I was always broke, I was often lonely, and I had some really terrible clothes. But my life was shiny and unblemished. Everything was ahead of me. I walked around with an abiding feeling that, at any given time, anything could go in any direction. And it was often true.

The read is not over, but please continue it over on Brain Pickings (I certainly wouldn’t want to wrongfully snag a reader away from its many gems). Who knows what else could pick your brain this morning?

*m

ps. feature image from Lisbeth Zwerger for a rare edition of Alice in Wonderland. I do not own them. (But I do really love them!)

gallery craving

My lack of a headboard may earn the badge of “Most Unnecessary Source of Minor Anxiety” but it’s still wreaking some serious inner turmoil. Every morning, I grab my cup o’ joe, settle in with some steaming oats, and open up Pinterest. This is where my eyes turn a subtle shade of green and my student-sized bank account starts to really grind my gears. (Do I hear an “amen”?) Every other gal in the world seems to be wearing crisp white boyfriend shirts and red lipstick, leaving their elegant stains on espresso cups at their local coffee shop, and curling into a bed with an elegantly distressed headboard behind them after a day of work. That last bit, that gets me. Because as a student, there are no funds left to squander on a headboard, no matter how dreamy it may be, and as a renter, I face limited options in putting up a fancy-shmancy art installation behind me. I am, however, on my way to curating a gallery in place of a headboard (even though I might be terrified of getting knocked out in the middle of the night thanks to only having “extra-strength” adhesive strips doing the job).

So, I’ve purchased some IKEA frames of various sizes, obviously intent on recreating some of Pinterest’s Scandi-cool scapes with framed minimalist quotes and red lipstick stains. But I also recently found a sweet assortment of vintage frames, each with knicks and scratches on the ornate wooden designs, and I’m now tempted to leave my IKEA frames under my bed permanently. (Shh.)

But here’s my biggest problem. I don’t have any flippin’ art to put in any of the flippin’ frames. Yeah, it’s a flippin’ problem. (Almost as big of a problem as my desire to say “flippin'”).

In the meantime, I’ve found a collection of galleries that I’m aspiring to. Maybe if I stare at them long enough, this will be the time when dreams come true. When all my wishes on so many stars, even an airplane or two, will just break through into a blissful reality.

Okay, getting some more coffee. Need a caffeine-induced reality check.

capture3
This is what the collection of vintage frames I found look like. Swoon, baby, swoon!

3e9bd2192a29cd54d64416d51850f194

8f00dbbaecd0b4c4546db5913fb8dd56
Look, ma! These are all my friends I made in university! Framed! They’re more fun when they have a drink in them.

528cd49cfa3798ebb439f96c42f6d8b8

supermarketsarah2
EGGS! Breaking out of the rigid frames is an excellent idea, actually.

9cba4e0beb00ebb6b7fc2ec91c8a2828

68cbf3dbbb82a38b56031b77d6fa05cf

 

*m

just do what you’re good at!

IMG_3720

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.

cropped-img_0574.jpg
…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.

alicegao6

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.

alicegao5

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.

alicegao4

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.

alicegao3

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.

alicegao2

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:

stillstest7 stillstest4 flowermarket7 weekendoutfit2

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

weekendoutfit4

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

*m

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. 
cropped-cropped-screen-shot-2014-01-11-at-12-35-18-am.png cropped-screen-shot-2014-01-11-at-12-34-29-am.png Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 12.35.38 AM Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 12.35.57 AM Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 12.38.28 AM
Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 12.38.47 AMScreen Shot 2014-02-04 at 10.27.23 AM

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 10.26.58 AM

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

Personalized.il_fullxfull.530986211_qas3

*m