The 90’s Influence

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“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” –Kurt Cobain, Nirvana

“Just A Girl”

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I’m exposed and it’s no big surprise
Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand
This world is forcing me to hold your hand

‘Cause I’m just a girl, a little ‘ol me
Well don’t let me out of your sight
Oh I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don’t let me have any rights

Oh…I’ve had it up to here!

The moment that I step outside
So many reasons for me to run and hide
I can’t do the little things I hold so dear
‘Cause it’s all those little things that I fear

‘Cause I’m just a girl I’d rather not be
‘Cause they won’t let me drive late at night
Oh I’m just a girl, guess I’m some kind of freak
‘Cause they all sit and stare with their eyes

Oh I’m just a girl, take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype

Oh…I’ve had it up to here!

Oh…am I making myself clear?

I’m just a girl
I’m just a girl in the world…
That’s all that you’ll let me be!

I’m just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb makes me worry some
I’m just a girl, what’s my destiny?
What I’ve succumbed to is making me numb

Oh I’m just a girl, my apologies
What I’ve become is so burdensome
Oh I’m just a girl, lucky me
Twiddle-dum there’s no comparison

Oh…I’ve had it up to!
Oh…I’ve had it up to!
Oh…I’ve had it up to here!

No Doubt, Gwen Stephani 

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I was a teen of the 90’s.  I went through puberty; graduated high school; used the internet for the first time; fell in love (twice), and moved out on my own.  I went through some of the biggest and most informative changes of my life during that decade.  The 90’s left a significant mark on my character and it still resonates with me today in 2016.

It was in the 90’s that I accepted my interest in fashion and style as a legitimate part of who I was.  I cared about it, and I put time and energy into it. If I wanted something I couldn’t afford, or it seemed unavailable to me (remember this was before on-line shopping), I bought second hand and altered it, or sewed it from scratch. I laugh now to think of what a strange experience it must have been for my parents to have a teenage daughter during the 90’s grunge era.  I imagine it must have been a combination of relief at the blatant lack of overt sexuality being displayed in the popular youth fashion of the time, and a touch of horror at my shabby, oversized, somewhat masculine style sense. Not to mention the very cheap price tag that went along with my almost entirely vintage wardrobe, which would be a relief to any parent. My style fell somewhere between your Grandpa’s closet in the 70’s, and Kurt Cobain’s, with an ever so tiny sprinkling of Charlie’s Angels. There were a lot of chords, bell bottoms, ripped jeans, 70’s big-collered button-downs and my most favourite pair of army pants bought at the local Army Surplus store.  I later regretted trading those beloved pants to my friend Ian, for his tie-dye sarong scarf. Although I do still have and use that scarf today.  Hey Ian, if your reading this, I want my pants back!

I jokingly laugh with my Husband and our male friends now about how they were ripped-off at the lack of skin and female bodies being put on display during their teenage years and twenties. The truth is, we all know how good it was for us in reality. The following generation of Brittany Spears/Christina Aguillera look-alikes made that abundantly clear to us. I feel lucky that I became a woman at a time in history when popular youth culture wasn’t embracing overt sexuality in women’s fashion.  That experience powerfully informed my opinions of how sexuality and the female body is displayed in fashion and it comes through in my taste now and how I dress myself daily.  I wasn’t even conciously aware of my tendency towards modesty in my style until another fashion blogger Miss Mellalina wanted to feature me on her blog as an example of a modest fashionista.  It was an interesting realization. My style is definitely bold and out-there, but it’s not overtly sexual. It’s true that most of the outfits I put together cover up most of my skin and don’t show off too much of my body.  Any skin I do show is typically a result of contextual function (e.g. wearing a bathing suit at the beach or cabin, shorts in the summer), or it’s balanced by a very contrasting counter-style (e.g. plunging neckline paired with oversized men’s trousers or all other skin completely covered up).

That said, I am fully aware of the effect that showing off even the tiniest portion of my body has had on my viewers.  Don’t think I didn’t notice the significant increase in the amount of attention my last blog post got for it’s slightly more provocative nature. It’s both totally predictable and yet completely astounding to me, the effect that a plunging neckline and seeing nipples through a top can have on people.  My likes, comments, and general traffic on all my social media accounts increased instantly and substantially.  Hmmm.  What does that say about us as a society?  It certainly shows why there are so many women and girls showing off their bodies and being provocative and seductive on social media.  The world has told us quite clearly and effectively that that is what it likes and wants, so that is what they keep giving to us. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly appreciate every like and comment that I get, but, here’s the thing,  you won’t see me posting any overt ass or boob shots on the internet simply for more “likes”.  You can be sure that the well established grunge era influence on me will be ever present in my choices to display my body.  Everything I do with fashion, I do for a reason and I can guarantee that if sexuality shows up in my posts, it will be to tell a story or express an idea or as an intentional art piece.  I have no intention of using my sexuality to get attention or gain more followers. The truth is, in my opinion, it’s too easy, superficial, and boring.  It’s also being done to death!  Not to mention it leads too many women down the path of attaching too much value to their physical appearance and then losing their self-worth in their later years, when showing off their bodies no longer gets the attention it once did. Hollywood’s substantial list of women over 35 who have had botox or plastic surgery is proof of that. Now, does that mean that my social media climb will be longer?  Likely.  Does it mean that the followers I do get will be more genuine? Indeed.

As a women who is approaching her 40’s now, I’ve lived some life, explored my sexuality and it’s effect, and I’ve been lucky enough to land in a place of self-worth and confidence that holds me true to my values without compromise.  If you ever find yourself in a place where you are allowing society to define who you are or what you have to offer, take a moment and determine if what others are saying they want from you is in line with what you want from yourself.  If your opinion doesn’t match theirs, I implore you to choose yourself over them. Our current focus on instant gratification, external approval and quick fixes has driven so many down a path that is not sustainable or satisfying in the long term.  In the end, what you create will be for others, at your expense. Gwen Stephani’s lyrics still resonate today as if it was still 1995…

“I’m just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb makes me worry some
I’m just a girl, what’s my destiny?
What I’ve succumbed to is making me numb”

If you stay true to yourself, you are patient, and you don’t succumb to society’s rule of thumb, you will find that there are many others who share the same values and tastes as you and they will find you, stick with you and help you to achieve the things that are important to you, because they are important to them too.  Everybody wins, no compromise.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

THRIFTED FASHION: Jeans (altered by me), militarty/faux leather sleeve jacket (altered by me with addition of ethnic textiles).

CURRENT FASHION: Hat and purse by H&M, sequin skirt and plaid shirt by Forever 21, boots by Dr. Martens, faux septum ring from Urban Waves Winnipeg.

Nerd is the New Cool in NYC!

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New York City, shot from Empire State Building

I just got home from a 5 day trip to New York City with my Husband, Gregory Chomichuk.  We were there to promote and sell his work as a writer/illustrator of graphic novels and all-ages books at the New York Comic Con. It was 4 really intense days with 150 000 fans dedicated to all things sci-fi, fantasy, and super-heros!  Some were there to buy comics, art prints and toys, some were there to test out the newest video game designs and some were there to meet the celebrities who work on their favourite T.V. shows and movies like Milla Jovovich, Carrie Fisher, Ethan Hawke, Kate Beckinsale, Keanu Reeves, and the cast of The Walking Dead and Stranger Things, to name a few.

The juxtaposition of being immersed in the heart of nerd culture for 12 hours a day in one of the coolest and most admired cities in the world was a mad mind trip to say the least. There were people of all ages, demographics and walks of life all there to celebrate a common love that seems to speak to every type of person. One second I would be talking super-heros with a teenage cosplayer decked out in a costume that must have taken weeks to create, and the next, with a t.v. crew member who’s currently working on several Netflix shows, and then an Emmy nominated creative director/producer who’s worked on several HBO t.v. shows, produced concerts by Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones and worked with Disney. Each of them bought art and books from my Husband. Say whaaat?! Never have I been in a situation where perceived opposite sub-cultures interacted and blissed out together so seamlessly.  It was inspiring and humbling to be a part of!

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Gregory and I at his Comic Con booth

“In New York, you’ve got Donald Trump, Woody Allen, a crack addict and a regular Joe, and they’re all on the same subway car.” – Ethan Hawke

“I love nerds. Comic-Con junkies are the tastemakers of tomorrow. Isn’t that funny? The tables have turned.”  – Kristen Bell

“What was previously perceived as nerdy is now viewed as original. What I like about nerdiness, geekiness, is it doesn’t really matter what you’re into – it just means you’re not a follower.”  – Kristen Bell

New York City is a sexy beast, there’s no doubt about that!  I have never been happier to be in a city that truly doesn’t sleep so that I got an opportunity to see some sights, eat some amazing food and flow with the pulse of the city into the wee hours every night after the convention.  Some cities shut down after 11:00 p.m. on a weekday, so there’s no chance to see anything other than the inside of your hotel room. New York is definitely not that kind of city.  We ate dinner at 9 p.m., strolled through Times Square shoulder to shoulder with hoards of people at midnight, hung out on the rooftop of the Empire State Building at 12:30 and then had a dance party…I mean shopped, at H&M at 1:00 in the morning.  Followed by a quick stop at a busy grocery store for healthy snacks for the next days convention, and back to the comfort of our hotel The Staybridge Suites to finally put up our aching feet and crash from blissed-out exhaustion.

My entire New York experience can be summed up in one word.  Diversity.  I saw and met every kind of person in a chaotic fast-passed haze.  I talked fan-art politics, super heroes and fashion in the same conversation. I had dinner one night with a filmmaker, and a 5th generation New Yorker who introduced us to the best pizza in the world, and then was invited to a loft apartment to smoke weed (which I didn’t)  with a Harry Potter star (who shall remain unnamed).  We walked passed beautiful people in designer clothes, homeless drug addicts, regular folks who were more than willing to recommend great places to eat, and every once in a while, a storm trooper.

All in all, it was an experience steeped in humanity.  It was all about people.  Lots and lots of people, all living life and being their unapologetic selves in a city where anything goes, and you are free to be yourself. We are all in this together after all.

NEW YORK CITY

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THE HOTEL

THE NEW YORK COMIC CON

THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

PHOTOGRAPHY and VIDEO BY: Gregory Chomichuk and yours truly. All on my iPhone 6, raw and un-edited.

THRIFTED: Hats, jackets, palazzo pants and yellow skirt.

FEATURED FASHION: Lennard Taylor Brenda swing shirt, Tony Chestnut pink jumpsuit, American Apparel body suit, and my Dr Marten boots that went the distance on this trip and saved my feet!

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The Art of Life

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
― Alain de Botton

“The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus, he taught. But what about the benefits of living harmoniously among extremes? What if you could somehow create an expansive enough life that you could synchronize seemingly incongruous opposites into a worldview that excludes nothing?” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

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Crystals from SHAKTI, Photo by Michael Sanders

Life can be very complicated one moment and very simple the next.  One minute you feel you have found the perfect balance between all the things that are important to you, and the next minute you wonder how the hell you ever got yourself into this mess of a life!

When it comes to work/life balance, I have learned this.  You need to measure balance not from day to day, week to week or even year to year.  You must measure balance in years or even decades, or you will drive yourself mad with what appears to be a life of complete imbalance and utter chaos.  There is such a thing as a crappy year or a fantastic decade.  Balance can only be seen in hindsight after many years have passed and you can see the ebbs and flows and how it all eventually evens out.  The hard part of course is the patience and faith required to allow life to unfold without madly trying to control every twist and turn along the way.

It’s this patience (with more than a few meltdowns) and faith (interspersed with intense periods of doubt), that I have made a major life overhaul with my Husband Gregory.  As of this month, we are embarking on a year of pursuing our artistic passions full-time while juggling two dogs and two small boys who will for the first time be full-time at school.  Since our first son was born 7 years ago, I gave up my 10 year career in Environmental Science and have been a stay-at-home Mom squeezing out moments to pursue fashion styling, bellydancing and blogging, which were all passions I did as “hobbies” while working. My Husband has worked as a high school teacher by day and an author/illustrator/artist whenever he possibly could.  In a nutshell, life has been madly unbalanced.

“When you go through a hard period,  When everything seems to oppose you,
… When you feel you cannot even bear one more minute,
NEVER GIVE UP!
Because it is the time and place that the course will divert!”
― Jalaluddin Rumi, The Essential Rumi

The last couple of years have been a real struggle for me to re-establish my place as not just Mother, Wife and housekeeper, but Woman, Entrepreneur and Artist.  I have reached that place where I couldn’t stand one more minute, and like Rumi said, I did not give up, because somewhere deep in the depths of my being, I understood that the road was about to divert.

So, as the summer ends and September arrives, we have given up the steady, reliable pay check and a status quo lifestyle, for a taste of living our art.  My greatest hope is that the four of us will find some beautiful way of weaving all of our interests and passions together in an overlapping and entwined creation all our own. This year will be about making things, sharing and designing a lifestyle that suites who we are instead of trying to force ourselves into boxes we have never properly fit in or liked. This year will be about sharing all of the responsibilities in a more balanced way and making room for each other to grow. I hope by watching us, our boys will be inspired to make choices in their life based on what is most important to them and not to fall into the trap of doing things like everyone else because that’s the only choice they think they have, or because they are disheartened by the criticism and doubt from others.

Life is a work of art.  It is your greatest creation and should be treated as such. You begin with a blank canvas and you can create anything you want in whatever way you want to.  In my case, I want to create, but not in isolation from my family. I did not quit my career and stay at home with my boys, just to get so busy now that I never see them. I want us to consciously create our life together and for all of us to be an integral part of each others creation.  I chose to be married, I chose to have children, and I chose to become a fashion stylist/blogger.  I don’t believe that I have to choose one of those things over the others to focus on in order to be happy as Rumi suggests.  I believe I can have them all if I don’t expect every day to be perfectly balanced. Some days I will focus on one, and other days I will focus on another, and sometimes I’ll juggle them all at once. Each stroke of a brush does not make a complete painting, like each day does not make a complete life.  Time and effort, patience and faith, and lots and lots of love, encouragement and unity with my family will create this work of art I call My Life.

My sincerest hope is that you will come along with me for the ride!  I plan to bring you new fashion and life inspiration WEEKLY beginning NOW!

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6×6 Canvas and drift-wood isle made by Gregory, Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

 

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We kept the splattered drift wood for our garden

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beach sand and feathers for added texture

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

MODELS: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Gregory Chomichuk, Lief Chomichuk, Finnley Chomichuk, and our Dogs: Leotie and Saga

FASHION: White bikini by Perry Ellis; wrap-around pants by Patron of Dreams; boys shorts by The Children’s Place; men’s cargo shorts by Old Navy; rose-quartz necklace by BCP Jewelry; and gorgeous giant crystals from SHAKTI.

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Holidaze

“Travelling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.” ― Lisa St. Aubin de Terán

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of the living.” ― Mary Ritter Beard

My Man and I decided to take a vacation to Phoenix, Arizona with the kiddos to spend time in the sunshine under the palm trees and saguaro cactuses. I thought it would be fun to bring clothes and makeup created by Designers in Winnipeg to show off some Canadian talent in the Valley of The Sun. I brought custom denim jeans by Lennard Taylor, bathing suits, cover-ups and tops by Gracetta Fashion Designs and makeup by Dandizette Cosmetics.  It’s amazing how a change of landscape and scenery can fire up your creativity and inspire something new in you to come to the surface.

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The Fam Jam (Gregory, Lief, Finnley and Moi) I swear, we were accidentally coordinated!

So what is that “thing” a vacation does to us?  What happens to us when we’re on holidays?   Why do some of us crave travel and others don’t?  What is it we are after really?  We can argue the position that all of us who crave a getaway are doing just that!  Trying to get away from some boring or mundane life. You know the quotes, “Choose a life you don’t need a vacation from”, or  “It’s not Monday that sucks, it’s your job!” Or maybe it’s not as simple and black and white as all that.  Maybe a holiday is a huge opportunity for personal growth.  Maybe we sense stagnation in our daily routines and it’s actually a biological need to shake things up so we continue to change and grow as humans.  I don’t know about you, but I definitely change and grow every time I step outside of my daily routine, and a vacation is a short but intense opportunity to do that.   I don’t think that anyone can deny the value and enrichment that comes from travelling, but what about a week long poolside or beach holiday?  It’s light on culture and effort, but what does it offer?

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Phoenix Sunset from my Father in Law’s back yard, where we stayed.

In my experience, a vacation is an opportunity to live like you would if the world as you know it was going to end.  It’s an opportunity to live bigger, fuller and free-er. It’s a chance to totally be present in each moment and to suck the marrow out of life.  It’s an opportunity to do whatever you want to do from moment to moment without a routine or agenda.  A holiday let’s you experience true freedom and the joy of spending your time almost completely on the “want to’s” instead of the “have to’s”.  It shows us the potential of what our lives could be more like, if we were brave enough to take more chances and worry less.  There is something incredibly liberating and freeing in making decisions from moment to moment based solely on how you feel, instead of always worrying about the perceived consequences like we do when we are home in our “real” life.  On vacation, you spend more money, you have one more cocktail, you stay up too late, you introduce yourself to strangers, you watch the sun set and rise, you say YES more, you stop to smell the flowers and take a picture, you order dessert, you flirt, you feel a little sexier, you take a longer shower, you eat dinner at 9:00 p.m., you have long meaningful conversations about the meaning of it all, you live it up, and then you hit your pillow totally exhausted and completely satisfied.  Wouldn’t life be absolute magic if it could always be like that?!  Well, maybe it can’t be exactly like that.  You still have to take out the garbage, do your job and pay your taxes.  But maybe it can be a lot more like that than it currently is!  Maybe, just maybe, we place endless limits and restrictions on ourselves unnecessarily that directly impacts the level of joy we experience in our lives.  Why can’t we let loose and live a little more a little more often?  Just humour me, and think about all the times you felt most alive and happy in your life.  If you are like me, then those times were the ones when you were taking a chance, or blissfully neglecting something you “should” be doing.  They are the times when you throw caution to the wind and break a few of your own rules. Think about the you that you were when you were falling in love, reading a sexy book for fun on the beach, trying something scary for the first time like taking a road trip alone, or sky-diving, or performing or speaking to an audience.  Think about the you that applied for that job even though you were under-qualified, or the you that stood up for someone or something even though it wasn’t a popular opinion.  Think about all those moments when you were scared, but did it anyway and it was invigorating as hell!  Couldn’t we stand to do that more?  I think we can.  And I think the consequences aren’t nearly as scary and real as we tell ourselves.

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Gracetta tank top, Lennard Taylor custom hand-painted jeans, booties from Rooster.  1983 Excalibur

I think that the person we are on vacation is closer to who we actually are (provided you don’t give in to total debauchery) than the version of ourselves that lives in so-called “reality”.  I truly believe we are meant to live fuller and be happier than we seem to allow ourselves to be, and going on a holiday serves as a reminder of how it could be and shows us our potential if we can just let go of the reins a little and stop restricting ourselves so much. So let go, stop making excuses and say YES.  One day when you are old and looking back over your life, you will thank yourself for getting out of your own way.

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Just getting a better view!

 

 

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Love this Thai wrap skirt from Shakti! BTW, totally not my car!

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La Vie en Rose bikini

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Lennard Taylor custom hand-painted jeans and Gracetta Fashion tank top

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Lennard Taylor custom jeans, and Gracetta Fashion tank top

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Lennard Taylor custom hand-painted jeans and Gracetta tank top

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Lennard Taylor jeans and Gracetta top

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Lennard Taylor jeans and Gracetta tank top

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Lennard Taylor custom hand-painted jeans

 

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Gracetta tank top

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Lennard Taylor jeans and Gracetta tank top

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ― Marcel Proust

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Gregory Chomichuk (my main squeeze!) Note: photos were shot on an iPhone6 and are un-edited.

STYLING BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

MAKEUP: Eye shadow (Jungle Babes Collection) Provided by Dandizette Cosmetics

FASHION: Lennard Taylor custom hand-painted jeans, Gracetta Fashion Designs; bikini, monokini, tank top, fringe bikini top, men’s baseball shirt, and bathing suit cover-up. Booties are Coconuts by Matisse from Rooster.

SWEET ASS CAR: Shout out to my Father in Law for lending us his sweet ride, a 1983 Excalibur.  Perfect for desert adventures!

 

Kaleidoscope Heart & Soul

Oh! joy for he who has escaped from this world of perfumes and color! For beyond these colors and these perfumes, these are other colors in the heart and the soul.
-Rumi

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Today is April 5th and it snowed. Giant floating fluffy white snowflakes. A thick white blanket covered the entire city within a couple of hours.  Where I’m from this is not an uncommon occurrence this time of year.  In fact, it’s quite common. Yet it still elicits an intense reaction from even those of us who have lived here our entire lives. You can actually feel the tension in the city.  It’s tangible.  The reactions range from mild irritation, to overwhelming frustration, to absolute disgust and anger.

Why do we do this to ourselves?!  It is a choice after all.  Not the snow, although you can move if you hate it, but how we choose to feel about it.  How we choose to see things and react to them is one of our most valuable abilities. I would go as far as to say that how we choose to react to our current reality is possibly the most important factor in how happy our life will be!  Yet, we are so trained as a society to be reactionary to our current situation or surroundings like everything is happening to us and we are victims of some unknown force that is trying to keep us down and make us miserable.  Are we crazy?  What an insane way to go through life?  As much as our 5 senses are a gift, which allow us different ways to experience our current reality, they can also be our downfall!  2 days ago, I was on vacation in Phoenix, Arizona.  It was hot and sunny, the air was filled with the smell of newly blooming desert flowers and I spent most of my time listening to my kids laughing and splashing in the pool. Everything I ate tasted better there.  It was heaven.  Today, it’s cold and wet, there is no smell because everything is frozen, and I heard so many people complaining about the weather it was baffling. I don’t even remember what I ate today. But, today is only today.  A drop in the bucket of a lifetime, and tomorrow will have something new to offer. What if I don’t particularly like what tomorrow has to offer, am I going to complain tomorrow too?!  How long will this go on?  Maybe it will continue until I lighten up enough that something I do particularly like happens.  Then will I be happy?  Do you see where I’m going  with this?  If we are so dependent on the circumstances of our life to decide how we are going to feel about our life, we are essentially choosing to be victims of life.  How sad is that? Shouldn’t we be deciding for ourselves how our life is going to be?  I don’t mean choosing each experience and circumstance.  I mean how we choose to feel about each experience and circumstance that comes our way.  I do believe we have much more ability to choose our reality than we are currently tapped into…but that’s another blog post!

Why not look at your life as a gift.  Possibly the greatest gift you have ever been given!  Look at each moment with wonder, like a child.  Have you ever seen a group of kids sitting around and bitching about the weather?  No!  It snowed in April, so they built a snowman and told everyone they saw about it with complete joy and exuberance!  When did we start using our senses to decide if we like things or not, instead of just experiencing things? It’s just black or white.  Good or bad.  Right or wrong. And we feel the need to share each harsh opinion with every single person we encounter!  Why can’t we just observe, and if we don’t like it, move on without reaction. Why must we waste so much energy on what we don’t like, when we can turn our attention to the things that make our hearts sing.

So, you don’t like snow in April, me neither, but I’m not about to waste my whole day focusing on it.  Sometimes, if you don’t like what you are looking at, you should look at it differently and suddenly it becomes something different.  In the absence of colour and smell and warmth, you can create your own.  When was the last time you looked at the world through a kaleidoscope?  Snow and ice as far as the eye can see, until you look through a different lens and suddenly everything is magic!  The beautiful thing is, you don’t need a kaleidoscope to do this, you just need your heart, your soul and your imagination which you carry with you at all times.  It works the same, but the effects are even more magical because there are no limits!

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“You can get to where you want to be from wherever you are—but you must stop spending so much time noticing and talking about what you do not like about where you are.”
― Esther Hicks

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”                                           – Wayne Dyer

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Gregory Chomichuk 

HAIR, MAKEUP, MODELLING & STYLING BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

CURRENT FASHION: Velvet bellbottoms from Lenni the Label

THRIFTED: Boots, dress, coat, scarf, vest, arm warmers and hat.  Special thanks to my son’s pre-school teacher Mrs. May for snagging this amazing wrap-skirt for me before it was donated.  It will be worn with love!

*Thank you to my sons for lending me your kaleidoscope and reminding me daily that I have one of my own with me at all times.* 

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Alpine Chill

Climb every mountain, search high and low,
Follow every byway, every path you know.

Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, ’till you find your dream.

A dream that will need,  all the love you can give,
Every day of your life, for as long as you live

                                                              – Climb Every Mountain lyrics, from The Sound Of Music Film

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

I believe we are currently living in a time that will be known in history as a turning point by our descendants.  It is a transformative time where people are waking up and shaking themselves off, like hibernating bears in the spring.  We are starting to respond to that nagging feeling that there is so much more to life and so much more potential in each of us that we have been suppressing and ignoring in order to maintain our mainstream lifestyles and not rock the boat.  We are afraid to be questioned or challenged by friends, family and peers, but the desire to live our dreams is beginning to outweigh the judgment and fear. People are getting off the treadmill of a lifestyle they have been told is the proper way to live and they are asking themselves, “what now?”.  The good news, is that we are not alone.  Many of us are questioning things and changing the way we live to create a more fulfilling life.  A  creative life that is more specific to our personal interests and values and less cookie cutter.  Some people think it’s weird to be different, or alternative.  If you stray from conventional ideals, you are eccentric and strange.  But I ask you, is it not more strange to be exactly like everyone else? Should we all work 9-5, live in a house just like your neighbour’s, drive the same kind of SUV, watch TV every night and shop on the weekends?  Keeping up with the Jones’s, in many ways, has put our creativity and natural uniqueness into hibernation.  It’s time for us to wake up!  It’s time to re-connect with our truest selves and each other.  It’s time to stop being afraid of the make-believe consequences and go after the stuff our dreams are made of.  I believe the world needs us to do this!  Future generations need to be inspired and to make different choices than we have made to improve this world we live in.    I for one, would like to be part of that movement.  If you already know who you truly are, and you know what your heart truly desires, GO FOR IT!  If you are floundering and have no idea what blows your hair back, SEARCH FOR IT!  Search high and low.  Keep your eyes and ears open and be present in every moment.  Notice what gets you excited and fires you up and follow that feeling.  Create that feeling wherever and whenever you can, and it will lead you to your dreams.  And when you’ve found that thing that makes your heart sing, do it as often as possible. Be present with it and then SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD! The world needs you and whatever it is that only you can do, in your unique way.  You will be part of the turning point where history changed and the world became a better place.

So here I am.  Talking from personal experience.  I worked in the Environmental Science industry with Engineers, Scientists and Researchers for a decade.  I quit it all to stay home and raise my two sons.  I quit the income, lifestyle, benefits and everything that goes along with it.  When I got off the treadmill, my life came to a screeching halt. The silence was deafening and the stillness, terrifying.  And in all that quiet stillness, I finally heard myself and all that I truly wanted.  I stopped listening to convention and I started listening to myself.

Now, I’m a Fashion Stylist and Blogger, modelling in these photos a wacky combination of 1940’s Bavarian Alps fashion and 1970’s retro ski bunny glam, and I’m IN LOVE!  I’m totally in my element and having a blast!  I love everything about what I am spending my time doing and I am fully present in these photos. I’m not in a rush to get anywhere.  I am enjoying the ride and the experience. I’m hearing the birds, feeling the freezing cold air on my skin, enjoying the wilderness and fading sun and in wonder at how the heck I got here, and why the heck I didn’t do this sooner! Life is supposed to be fun!

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

 

Photography by: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

Styling, Hair and Makeup by: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

Current/On Trend: Necklace and earrings by Metalsan Jewelry (also available at McNally Robinson Bookstore in Winnipeg); Bavarian style harness, custom design by Rampant Design; Boots by Dr Martens; Gold bodysuit by American Apparel (currently on sale!).

Vintage: Red scarf; Faux fur hat; 1970’s sweater; Leather gloves; Men’s wool Jodhpur-style trousers and German tall socks (Huge thanks to Ryan Bartel of Rampant Design for lending me the pants and socks and for all your beautiful leatherwork creations); Bamboo ski polls (Thanks Dad!).

THANK YOU: To Amber van den Broek, Realtor extraordinaire and Hostess of the always amazing Annual SNOWBALL fundraising event in Winnipeg! Our discussion about this year’s ALPINE CHILL theme for your fundraising event was the inspiration for this photo shoot.  Winnipeggers, DO NOT miss the 4th annual Snowball: Alpine Chill, in support of the Green Action Centre, on Saturday, January 16th at the German Pavilion.  This event is always an amazing time, with incredible performers, music, and a live art battle. All for a good cause!  I will see you there Winnipeg!!!

Instagram: @patronofdreams

Facebook: Patron of Dreams

Twitter: @taracmccaffrey

Living Abundance

“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”
-Wayne Dyer

“You are joy, looking for a way to express. It’s not just that your purpose is joy, it is that you are joy. You are love and joy and freedom and clarity expressing. Energy—frolicking and eager—that’s who you are.” – Abraham

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

The truth is, I’ve never been one to put too much emphasis on New Years, until last year. My Grandfather had suddenly passed away before Christmas, and on New Year’s Eve, my Husband’s Mom was lying in Palliative care approaching the end of her life.  I was picking up some last-minute groceries to help prepare a big dinner with his family to ring in the new year.  It was heart-wrenching and awful. My Husband had been spending every spare moment over the last month with his Parents, which meant I had been doing a lot of single parenting of our 2 small boys over the holidays and general support wherever I could.  I was exhausted and sad and lonely. I dug down deep inside myself to muster the gumption for an exceptionally heavy night.  I looked at my sons, virtually untouched by all the suffering going on around them and I decided that tonight, I would completely surrender to them and go with their flow.  I just didn’t have the energy to resist their whims. If it meant we arrived late and without the groceries we needed, so be it.  We had bigger issues to deal with after all.  And then, the most miraculous thing happened! We skipped in the isles, rode around too fast on the grocery cart, laughed, sang, and played I spy.  We were too loud and obnoxiously happy.  We had ended up with way more than we needed in our cart, and I didn’t care.  When we got to the check out, we continued our sillyness.  I giggled along with them like a third child, instead of their Mother, and I revelled in their beautiful innocence.  I let their joy infect me.  And then another miraculous thing happened!  An older gentleman in line in front of us told me that he would like to buy our groceries for us.  At first I was taken aback and said no thank you, we’re ok.  Then he explained that he had been watching us throughout the grocery store and that my children were beautiful and happy and we were obviously a very tight loving family.  Then he explained that he never had kids and that he would likely never have them and it would make his New Years if we would accept his gift.  I was overcome!  This man had absolutely no idea how difficult my last couple of months had been and what we would be facing in the month to come.  He only saw us in that moment in time while we were full of wonder and joy and life was abundant, and like magic, we immediately drew more abundance to ourselves.  We thanked him graciously and as we were leaving, he passed me some chocolates he had bought at check-out for the kids,  but wanted to check with me first to see if the kids could have them.  What he didn’t know was that my youngest son has a nut allergy, and somehow, he had purchased the only thing available that was nut-free.    The kids, as you can imagine, were ecstatic.  So much joy and enthusiasm for such a small thing.  Oh to be a child!

When we arrived for New Years with the family, I felt re-born.  A renewed sense of meaning and hopefulness for the future.  When I re-counted our story, everybody cried.  One small gesture from one man, was immensely powerful and impacted an entire extended family at a very difficult time in our lives.  It truly is the little things that count.

That experience reminded me about the meaning of abundance.  It isn’t about money or material things. While those things are nice to have, they can not be yours when you are feeling empty  and ungrateful, and can not find joy in all that you already have.    It’s about the way you choose to feel at any given moment in your life.  Feeling abundant is about revelling in the mundane.  It’s about living life full of joy and wonder like a child.  Frolicking and playing and laughing and not taking it all so seriously.

So, this is my wish for 2016!  To live a life of abundance and watch the magic unfold.  I want to be silly, and laugh, and go with the flow.  I want to look at the world through the eyes of a child and experience the wonderment of it all.  I want to renew my vitality by not acting my age!  I want to be carefree and drink champagne and celebrate everything!  I want to live abundance!

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photography by: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

Styling, hair and makeup by: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

On Trend/Current Fashion: Glory bells in rust velvet (currently on SALE) and Rumi rust velvet jacket (currently on SALE) by LENNI the label (from their Burning Gold collection), sparkly jersey knit sweater by H&M, necklace (Vegas) by Mirina Collections (use code “tara” and receive 20% off of any purchase on their website).

Vintage: antique Tibetan hat, my Grandma’s fur coat.

Thrift: platform boots, pearl and rhinestone earrings and rings.