Wonder is the Beginning of Wisdom

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“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”
― Socrates

“It is a happiness to wonder; — it is a happiness to dream.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Complete Stories and Poems

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
― Albert Einstein, Living Philosophies

Today is Winter Solstice. It’s the darkest day of the year here in the western hemisphere of earth and a time of looking inward and creating our own light and warmth in anticipation of the holidays and ringing in of a New Year. It’s a time for reflection and anticipation.  A time for mourning those we have lost and cherishing those we still have. It’s a time of celebration and renewal and of writing the last line of a chapter we must conclude in order to begin a new one. I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of this chapter, and an idea that has been percolating within me. The idea of wonderment.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Wonderment as “as state of awed admiration or respect.” The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines is as “astonishment, surprise, curiosity about something.” The Urban Dictionary defines it as “awe, wonder and amazement.” When we use the word wonder, we typically describe it as childlike-wonder. It occurred to me recently that the reason we say this may not be the fact that children are constantly making new discoveries and living life with curiosity, so they are often in a state of wonder, it may be, that adults are not living in this way. We seem to live within a society that encourages us away from our natural inclination to wonder. As a child we stop to investigate a bug on the sidewalk or a snowflake on our mitten and we are hurried along by the adults who have an agenda and schedule to keep, so we are snapped out of our state of wonder time and again. We are taught in school that it is not the questioning that is important, but the answer, the correct answer, to be exact. We are told that knowledge is power and to gain knowledge we must learn as much as possible about the discoveries and information gathered by those that have come before us. When we question things ourselves, we are told not to question, but to listen and pay attention to those who are older and wiser for the answers and not to challenge the way it is. We are systematically taught out of our natural instinct to question and be comfortable within a state of not-knowing. When we are out at a party and someone is talking about something we are not knowledgable about, many of us feel ashamed and would rather hide the fact that we don’t understand, than just ask “what do you mean?” Children ask questions freely and without fear because they have not yet been shamed or humiliated by a teacher or family member about not-knowing or getting it wrong. They have not been a tender pre-teen who has been laughed at by peers or humiliated in public when someone loudly responds to their innocent questioning “YOU DON’T KNOW THAT???” “HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT???” I still experience this as an adult, because I continue to ask questions and not pretend to know things that I don’t. I admit I’m even guilty of saying “YOU DON’T KNOW WHO THAT IS?” to other people. Although, in my defence it’s usually in the context of discovering someone doesn’t know about a particular artist, band or author that is just so phenomenal, everyone should know about them. It’s never in the context of “you should be ashamed of yourself for not knowing the names of all the politicians who held office in your Province since 1974.”

The simple fact is, all of the important discoveries that have ever been made by a human being began as a state of curiosity and wonder. They began from a place of comfortably sitting within the feeling of not-knowing and asking all kinds of questions. Our society seems to deeply value the discoveries themselves, like penicillin or electricity, or telecommunication. Our world is forever changed by the internet and knowledge gained by NASA from exploring outer space, but this creativity and discovery would not have been possible without that magical thing we call childlike-wonder. The people who have gone on to make incredible discoveries or have created something spectacularly life-changing for human beings, did this despite social pressure to grow up, and leave childlike things like wonder behind, and replace them with dependability, strong work ethic and responsibility. We study the philosophers, the composers, the inventors and great business and industry tycoons, gaining their knowledge and insights, but are often not encouraged to be like them. Reason being, these individuals have often been school drop-outs, eccentrics, social outcasts, fringers and they did not accept arbitrary rules or limiting belief structures. They challenged the status quo and they didn’t allow what other people thought of them to discourage them from birthing crazy ideas and outlandish dreams for the future from that magical place of wonder. I imagine these individuals pissed a lot of people off. They likely held up the line at school to investigate that bug on the sidewalk or snowflake on their mitten. They likely got in trouble again and again for not following the rules or pushing boundaries and challenging authority and bureaucracy, and now we have them to thank for the rules they changed, boundaries they broke and bureaucracy they exposed as out-dated or unnecessary.

With a new year fast approaching, I have turned my mind towards the future. We face so many challenges as more people than ever before are becoming aware and accepting that many old ideas, systems and social and societal structures are no longer serving the greater good of the world. We face environmental, governmental and patriarchal concerns and epidemics that challenge us daily to choose a better way to live. People are waking up to it, shining a light on it and exposing it for all to see. People are finding their courage from within a state of fear and as I watch it all unfold around me, I find myself in a state of wonderment. From my own place of fear and sadness and dismay about the state of things, I see people rising up and it gives me hope and courage and empowers me to take my place in the shift. It is a wonderment beyond any I have felt in many years. I am immensely proud and inspired by the brave human beings of this world. I have typically felt that feeling of childlike wonder when marvelling at nature or the cosmos, but lately, I have been feeling it while observing humanity. I feel a deep sense of hope and possibility for the future. I see it in young people challenging old systems and small children who flatly refuse to accept outdated ideas about education and fitting in. All of it makes me smile deep into my gut.

Now is the time of the innovators, the discoverers, the creators and inventors. Now is the time to raise the next generation with their sense of wonder fully intact and not hindered by controlling, oppressive structures. Now is the time for the change makers and people with new ideas to rise up and unite. It’s a very exciting time to be alive in the world, and I am full of anticipation and motivation for the future. I for one, refuse to loose my ability to wonder and question and revel in possibilities that lie within the unknown. It is through our wonderment that we will find the answers we seek and create a better world.

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
― Rachel Carson

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

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

VINTAGE FASHION: Embroidered wine-coloured caftan from Wildwood Rose Vintage

THRIFTED FASHION: Burgundy felt hat, scarf, and cobalt-blue coat.

NEW FASHION: Gold velvet bell-bottoms from Lenni the label, and mirrored patchwork kimono by Pachamama Bohemian. Sunglasses from Urban Waves.

Treasure Hunter, Thrill Gatherer

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret of mine, that may not be so secret to other experienced vintage hunters. The art of antiquing, thrifting, picking, vintage hunting, or whatever you like to call it, is a sexy experience. It can take you from intrigue, to desire, to full pursuit, total desperation, and then complete and utter satisfaction. Can I get an Amen! No matter how many brand new shiny things you buy, you are never going to get that same satisfaction shopping in a mall or box store, where there are copies, upon copies, upon copies of the same thing. And if you missed out because you were the 333rd customer to want one, there are more copies in the back, you just have to ask. Don’t even get my started on all the environmental benefits of shopping second hand! That’s a whole other blog post!

Maybe when you walk into an antique store or thrift shop you just see a bunch of old stuff, someone else’s baggage, like looking into a crowd and noticing all the people who have had their hearts broken, so their inner light doesn’t shine as bright as it used to. When I walk in the room, I see potential. One woman’s cast off is another woman’s treasure. The possibility of having something exceptional, unique and rare, and ohhhh the beautiful things we will create together! It starts out simple and playful with no real intentions, just a fun afternoon out, but when the possibility of scoring something spectacular and unique is within your grasp, well, let’s just say it gets all the juices flowing. It’s as if it awakens the primal instincts of both the hunter and the gatherer within. The balance and equilibrium of the masculine and feminine inside your body like a playful tug of war, both wanting to get what they want. You will not leave unsatisfied. This is not your first rodeo!

You flip through racks of retro clothes that leave you reeling, a little drunk and giddy as all the wishes, desires and stories of all those who wore them before radiate from them to you. You meander along to scan vintage records, each one taking you on a convertible moonlight drive, playing one after the other dreamily through your head. You are on a pleasure cruise of the past and find yourself totally lost inside the memories of old, disconnecting from time and space and you find yourself existing in the places where dreams are of made of and then you happen to look up, half in a daze and it catches your eye. Across the room, through the crowd and clutter, a vintage leopard print coat with your name written all over it. You are pretty sure it sees you too. You freeze, like you’ve just become a leopard yourself and you’ve locked your eyes on a potentially delicious meal. It can trigger an intensity and excitement the likes of which I find hard to explain. I have been known to scream “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!” while running like a maniac through an antique shop to some amazing thing I’ve spotted, or on occasion jumping up and down squealing like a child. Both of which are decidedly un-sexy behaviours. So this time, I straighten up, I shake my mane, shoulders back, chin up, I regain my cool and saunter over like I’m only mildly interested. It has to impress me first. I’ll need a closer look. When you discover, upon closer inspection that it is all you had hoped for and more, the feeling that transpires falls somewhere between, what I imagine a pirate might feel when they finally find the treasure they have been seeking across oceans of time, and the satisfaction a wild cat feels when it takes down it’s prey in it’s ravenous jaws. Both elated with gratitude and totally voracious at once. It’s like you’ve scored the mother load! To you it might be just a coat, but to me, to me it’s like a hot rush of inspiration, and I must act on it. Like a painter who’s just discovered a new colour and must capture it on canvas immediately. The possibilities are endless! It makes me want to drop everything I had going on for the rest of the day and just dream up all the stories that can and will be told with that coat. It’s a goddamn love story. Every time. Discovering it is a thrill, especially when it catches you off guard, and once you finally have it, it’s soooooo satisfying. Sexy.  “Would you like it in the bag?”. “Why yes, yes I would.” Now home to sleep, I’m spent!

“There she was just a-walkin’ down the street, singin’ “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do”
Snappin’ her fingers and shufflin’ her feet, singin’ “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do”
She looked good (looked good), she looked fine (looked fine)
She looked good, she looked fine and I nearly lost my mind

Before I knew it she was walkin’ next to me, singin’ “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do”
Holdin’ my hand just as natural as can be, singin’ “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do”
We walked on (walked on) to my door (my door)
We walked on to my door, then we kissed a little more

Whoa-oh, I knew we was falling in love
Yes I did, and so I told her all the things I’d been dreamin’ of

Now we’re together nearly every single day, singin’ “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do”
A-we’re so happy and that’s how we’re gonna stay, singin’ “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do”
Well, I’m hers (I’m hers), she’s mine (she’s mine)
I’m hers, she’s mine, wedding bells are gonna chime

Whoa-oh, I knew we was falling in love
Yes I did, and so I told her all the things I’d been dreamin’ of

Now we’re together nearly every single day, singin’ “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do”
A-we’re so happy and that’s how we’re gonna stay, singin’ “Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do”
Well, I’m hers (I’m hers), she’s mine (she’s mine)
I’m hers, she’s mine, wedding bells are gonna chime 

Manfred Mann (Doo Wah Diddy)

 

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

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

VINTAGE FASHION: The infamous leopard print coat, Scottish military piper jacket, Indian textile vest, and white fur stole ALL from Found On Corydon (a.k.a. Metalphysical Moon), in Winnipeg.

PHOTOSHOOT LOCATION: I had the privilege of doing this photoshoot in one of my favourite vintage/antique stores in Winnipeg, Found On Corydon (Metalphysical Moon), located in the heart of Wolseley. It is an absolute treasure trove that would titillate even the most experienced of vintage and antique hunters. You could comb through for hours and never find all the hidden gems in this store. The store itself is a treasure. It’s like a museum warehouse of artifacts from every era and background. A bohemian paradise reserved only for the truest treasure seekers. The ones who seek the diamond in the rough, and the stories behind each item. While I also love to shop expertly curated vintage in tidy rows of lovingly decorated and designed boutiques in Winnipeg, there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of the hunt. Every time I go, I feel as though I’ve been given special access into a dragon’s lair where many years of treasure have been lovingly collected and guarded. Except the owner, Candis Militere is no dragon. Far from it. She is a sweet and kind hearted lady with an artists heart, who I’ve had the privilege of bonding with over a shared passion for old treasures.

NOW is a great time to check out Found on Corydon (Metal Physical Moon) if you haven’t yet because they are re-orgainizing, and clearing space out! There are DEALS, DEALS, DEALS to be had until December 27th! Clothing is buy 1 get the 2nd 1/2 price. They have a DISCOUNT JAR for furniture sales where you get to pick your discount from 25% to 50% off.  BOXING DAY will be 50% OFF everything in the store!!! Don’t miss out Winnipeg!

 

 

Feminine Fierce

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“When women reassert their relationship with the wildish nature, they are gifted with a permanent and internal watcher, a knower, a visionary, an oracle, and inspiratrice, and intuitive, a maker, a creator, and inventor, and a listener who guide, suggest, and urge vibrant life in the inner and outer worlds.”

“To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one’s own numinosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one’s own way.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

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There is a deep and profound power within femininity. It is a power that is seldom recognized and celebrated within our society. We all have both feminine and masculine traits within each of us to varying degrees and they shift and come forth in different times and situations in our lives. They are both important, necessary and useful, which is why we embody both. Even though this is true, it is undeniable that typically masculine traits are the ones held up as superior in our society. We are taught to value physical strength; assertiveness; independence; action; dominance; logic and ambition. All of which are traditionally considered masculine. We praise these traits so much in our society that many women have learned to develop and focus our attention on the masculine within us in order to be recognized and valued within a patriarchal society. We have also embraced those traits for our own physical safety and protection. I am one of those women.

From a very young age, it became apparent to me that masculine traits were more valued, and if I wanted to be taken seriously, I needed to focus on the masculine within me. I tended to lean toward the masculine naturally, so it wasn’t difficult for me to lean in all the way. I developed physical strength and I learned to throw a ball and ride a bike aggressively. I learned to be tough, independent and dominant. When I got old enough, I applied for a job as a dish-washer in the back of a restaurant with the guys. They told me I was too pretty to stay in the back, so they made me a hostess. This felt more like a failure to me than a compliment, but I needed a job.  After working for a while, they realized I was surprisingly tough. Being a teenage girl working with men in their twenties will do that to you. So they also put me in charge of turning away the drunks at the bar as an un-suspecting bouncer. I was 16. I then got a series of physical labour jobs and applied for male-dominated science programs at University and then College. Both programs were trying to re-cruite more women in sciences. It landed me a career in an Engineering firm, where I was 1 of only 2 women, other than the all-female secretaries. I became one of the boys for all intents and purposes, aside from my very feminine exterior. This combination of looking feminine while behaving masculine, seemed to get me everywhere. I carried on like this for 10 years, and by most of societies standards I was very successful. Then I got married and had a baby.

Everything changed. Suddenly, all of the traits I had worked so hard to develop and lead my life with became far less important and a whole new set of more feminine traits were being called upon. My family needed nurturing, empathy, sensitivity, intuition and gentleness. It was one of the most confusing and frustrating times in my life. I knew I embodied those traits, but I had been suppressing them for so long because they were not visibly valued by the world in which I lived. I suddenly felt invisible and unimportant to everybody but my children and my Husband. I felt smaller and less powerful than I had ever felt before in my life. It woke me up. It lit a fire deep in my belly that began to rage and burn with determination for this to change.

When we look back at era’s in which women’s liberation was at the height of popularity, you can see the influence of masculinity rise in popular culture. In the 1920’s, it became popular for women to be more androgynous. Waistlines dropped, garments hung loose and women began to lose weight to avoid feminine curves. They cut off their hair and got rid of their corsets that accentuated waists and breasts. They began to smoke and drink and engage in sex before marriage, which previously were activities restricted only to men. They became independent and assertive about their opinions. They grew a thick skin and a tougher exterior so they could walk the streets un chaperoned for the first time. They began to embody more masculine traits because those traits gained them more freedom than feminine traits did. In the 1980’s we saw it again, with the popularity of the power-suit and broad-shoulders. Makeup trends made women look fierce and intimidating. Cocaine, which ramped up aggression and intensity was the drug of choice. Super models were chosen for their strong jawlines and Amazonian body types. The powerful executive Boss Lady became the role-model that all young girls aspired to be. Choosing to be a Mother or be a homemaker was for the weak or oppressed.

I see this trend happening again. Strangely, it’s at a time when I feel my most feminine. Although I still lean toward the masculine, I have struck a balance in my masculine and feminine that I have never achieved before. In honouring the feminine within me, I have gained a deeper respect for women and at the same time, am deeply saddened that even given all that we have been through, and the leaps and bounds that women have made to be recognized in society as valuable and worthy, we are still celebrating the masculine as superior. We are still hiding our feminine traits like they are weaknesses, and trying to be more masculine in order to be noteworthy and appreciated.

I long for a time when gentleness, empathy, intuition and nurturing are valued enough in our society that they become trendy in popular culture and something for young people, boys and girls alike, to aspire to. I long for the world to go mad for a film character who achieves unbelievable things because of these typically feminine traits. I feel inundated by the message we are sending when we continue to celebrate violent, dominating and physically powerful females like Furiosa in Mad Max- Fury Road, and Wonder Woman, Rise of the Warrior, as feminist symbols. Don’t get me wrong, these movies are thrilling and I like to watch an epic ass-kicking female action movie just as much as the next woman, but it seems we never see examples of strong women accomplishing incredible things by using her feminine characteristics. We are deeply imbalanced, and not representing the feminine in an empowering way at all. While I appreciate that the ass-kicking warrior women archetype plays a role in challenging the idea that feminine traits are for females and masculine traits are for males, just like the 1920’s and 1980’s did, we must be aware that they are still celebrating and re-inforcing that masculinity is still how you accomplish things and that women who embody more masculine traits are more powerful. I can’t help but feel like I have been trained to love these movies, because the only time we cheer for a woman is when she is embodying masculinity. The little girls of today, just like the little girl I was in the 1980’s are being taught that their power lies in embracing their masculine, and that they better be beautiful on the outside as well. We show young girls and boys that the world still prefers and celebrates aggressive women. They may be kind-hearted and want to do good in the world, but they achieve that through aggression. We don’t cheer for their more subtle empathy, intuition and nurturing. Those qualities are boring at best, and at the worst, it’s their weakness that they must overcome. We are shown time and again by popular culture, that those feminine traits are not interesting or thrilling enough to warrant a place in a popular Blockbuster movie.

I challenge that idea. I challenge you to ask yourself why we all cheer for the fierce, warrior woman? I have cheered for her all my life, but I’m starting to question why that is exactly, and if it’s time for a change? Questioning why we think the way we do is a good thing. It’s important to challenge ourselves on the ideas we have accepted for a long time as just how it is. So, I challenge myself and I challenge you. I challenge the creative writers, actors and movie makers to tap into the feminine phenomenon that is missing. I agree that capturing the deep power of the subtleties of the feminine will be more than a little difficult. When I have seen it attempted in movies or books, these traits are typically embodied by a witch or sorceress who is either the villain, or a victim. Just like the female orgasm, the complexities of the feminine are deeply misunderstood, so inevitably become feared and represented in popular culture as evil. If you ask me, I think the abilities of the feminine are closer to super-human than any violent super-hero could ever be. Women create life. The feminine has the uncanny ability to heal people and create the foundations that help people and things grow. The feminine is empathic and understands the transformative power of emotion and communication. The feminine carries traditions, knowledge and culture forth from generation to generation that aren’t represented in history books or school curriculums. The feminine understands intuitively the power of connection between all living things. I think those characteristics are the basis for a new kind of hero. The kind that nurtures and protects. The kind that doesn’t resort to violence or aggression to save the world, but embodies a deeper sense of peace and compassion. I’m ready for a hero or role model that is tapped into the natural rythmes of life. An intuitive observer and loving healer.

Cheering for the warrior women has had more than it’s time to shine in the sun. It has served it’s purpose in bringing women into the fold and giving them position, visibility and power within a very masculine world that doesn’t understand or value the feminine yet. I will always cherish the fierce warrior women within and I’m sure she will come forth when needed, but I feel it’s time for us to educate ourselves about the feminine, and celebrate it for the deep strength and power it holds. I think it’s time for the pendulum to swing back into a more balanced feminine and masculine. I think it’s time to cheer for the compassionate, intuitive, loving nurturer that resides within both women and men. I think it’s time that the feminine is encouraged to rise. Don’t you?

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, HAIR & ART DIRECTION BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

MODELS: Leanne Sanders and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

FASHION: Leather vests, arm cuffs, furs and sheep skins by Rampant Design

 

 

Down the Rabbit Hole

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
― Lewis Carroll (Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland)

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“Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.” – Lewis Carroll (The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland)

There is a deep seeded part of me which knows intuitively that our purpose here as human beings is to create, and in doing so, expand and grow like the universe itself. Every single person on our planet is a creator, and together we are co-creators who are continually influencing and impacting one another’s creations. Some people are working with us and feeding our expansion and as a result the expansion of the world. Other’s are impeding our progress to the detriment and delay of individual development and therefore the evolution of humanity. This is not to say that all of us are artists or wish to pursue the arts as a lifestyle choice. It is to say that every single one of us is continually having ideas that begin small in our minds and then become reality as they grow and we create them into being. Every day you decide what to wear; what to make for dinner; creative solutions to problems at work; how to decorate your home; how to cut your hair; or how to plan your vegetable garden. There is really no way to get through a single day without creating. We are hard-wired to create things and share them. This is fact. This is our collective human experience.

It is strange to me that so many people seem unaware of their own creativity and how they take for granted all the many things they create each day, which each began as a simple thought.  What’s even stranger is how devastatingly hard society is on those who have embraced their creativity fully and choose more elaborate and intentional creative ideas thereby honouring their human ability to think a thought and create it into being. It seems in fact, that our society is not set up at all to support creativity as a pursuit, even though it is such an undeniable and significant part of every human being.  Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say. Those of us who call ourselves artists or creatives who have accepted making things as our life’s purpose, have been simultaneously held up as inspirational or groundbreaking, while at the same time being criticized for being too different, too impractical, or out of touch with reality. It’s a conundrum. Somewhere along the line, we have created a very limited view of how creative we are allowed to be while still being socially accepted and not considered weird, un-relatable, or crazy.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The more I have allowed my creativity to flow and be seen, the more myself I have felt than ever before in my life. It seems that the more myself I feel, the less the mainstream world is able to accept me and the less I am able to accept it. Now it seems as though what I once thought was real and normal appears like total madness to me, and what appears like madness to mainstream popular culture is what is real and true. It’s as though by being true to myself and embracing my natural instincts to create and expand, the veil of bullshit has lifted and I see the cage called normal or reality for what it is. It’s a terrible trap, crafted and upheld by those whose hearts are riddled with scars from past hurts that have them blinded by fear, insecurity and a deep desire for external acceptance and approval. Their fear mongering and criticisms are there to keep you insecure, ashamed and fearful of yourself and your desire to expand, by judging and shaming you back into your cage over and over again.

Freeing myself of this cage is an on-going process, which I now understand, will be a lifetime effort. What makes it easier and more joyful is the wonderful collection of other creative people I have had the pleasure of co-creating with. We do indeed attract those of like mind to us, and we inspire one another to do better, be better and at all costs to stay free with our creativity and grow. I have heard it said, that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. If I look back over my life’s path, I can see clear evidence that this is indeed true. As I noted before, some people feed our natural drive towards expansion by being supportive, but more importantly, by being creative themselves. Others impede our progress by having narrow views of potential and staying small and fearful and as a result, keeping others around them small too. People don’t always realize they are doing this because they are so misguided by their own fear and insecurities that they have not been able to find themselves and be free. No one can free another, we must free ourselves and find our way back to who we actually are, not who others want us to be. If we surround ourselves with those who want to see us grow and are actively pursuing their own growth, together we tap into the natural momentum and flow we are all meant to experience, and we become unstoppable.

Embrace the creator that you are. Don’t limit your creative potential to the elaborate order you place at Starbucks. Allow yourself to attempt that complex recipe that’s been rattling around inside your head. Sit down and just write that story idea you’ve had since you were 16. Pick up that guitar you’ve been ignoring in the corner, or dust off Grandma’s piano. Grab whatever camera you’ve got now and go shoot! For the love of yourself, accept that you create naturally every single day and you have the capacity to give it your full attention and do something spectacular with it. You don’t have to devote your life to it, just stop trying to convince yourself and everyone else that you are not creative, and that creative people are somehow special, and you are just a regular person. Poppycock! Give yourself permission to create what comes naturally to you and you may feel, possibly for the first time in your life, the seed of your truest self. The seed that if allowed to grow, will blossom into originality. Your originality is precisely what this mad world needs, but, you have to be brave enough to go down the rabbit hole.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, STAGING and CREATIVE DIRECTION BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

MODELS: GMB Chomichuk (Mad Hatter, a.k.a. my Husband), Leanne Sanders (The Red Queen), and Tara Cole-McCaffrey (Alice)

SPECIAL NOTE: A few days before this shoot, I posted on Instagram that I was looking forward to seeing what Mother Nature had in store for us this time. It has become my regular experience that when we shoot outdoors, as we often do, we are always graced by some unexpected addition from Mother Nature that always adds something spectacular that there’s no way we could possibly produce ourselves. We once had a group of snakes show up for a fairytale witch shoot; a storm roll in over the lake creating huge waves and moody skies for a beach shoot; giant magical snowflakes for a New Year’s shoot, and a whole herd of deer that just hung out during a Bavarian Alpine shoot. When we arrived at the cabin in the woods to shoot this Alice in Wonderland theme, we were greeted by the largest infestation of fish-flies I have ever seen in my life. At first I was disappointed (not to mention grossed out), since having them in the shots would be un-avoidable. I soon realized, that if crazy, weird and whimsical was really what I was going for, than Mother Nature had indeed outdone herself once again by taking the madness up several notches for us. I am learning to trust the process and to place my trust and faith in my greatest co-creator yet, Mother Nature herself.

 

Ascension

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” – Ben Okri

“When you can imagine, you begin to create and when you begin to create you realize that you can create a world that you prefer to live in, rather than a world that you’re suffering in.” – Ben Okri

“Reach for the best feeling thought you have access too.” -Abraham Hicks

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Mid-January.  It’s still dark out by 5 p.m. The holidays are over, bank accounts are looking dismal, the sugar detox is real, and statistics show that most people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions a week ago.  Enter Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, reported to be the most depressing day of the year.  I’m not gonna lie, it can be very challenging to keep your chin up and keep on trucking optimistically when so many people around you are suffering and struggling to see the point of it all. It can leave you having to dig deep to find the motivation to power on.  So, what do we do about it?  Well, for starters, let’s not fall for the oldest mistake in the proverbial book.  If you are feeling a little lower than usual, now is not the time to shoot for the stars and make unrealistic plans and demands on yourself.  You know I’m all about dreaming big and believing in your ability to live your dream life, but I have lived long enough to know that shooting too high, when you are feeling too low, is a recipe for failure and can knock you back even further than where you started from.  I think about my emotions like a staircase.  Each step up is a small improvement in how I feel.  The bottom step is hopelessness.  It’s where depression resides.  You may currently be on the third step, where frustration is rampant, but remember, it is a whole lot better than hopelessness. So, how do I climb the staircase?  Well, firstly, I realize that I can’t jump from the bottom step to the top.  Its just not possible, physically, or emotionally.  But, I can focus on the things that are working and the little things that make me feel good, like the warm glow of a scented candle, a really great cup of coffee, or how lovely the light is in the morning through my front window, and suddenly, my gratitude has carried me up a few steps.  If you treat it as a daily practice to notice the good stuff, then before you know it, you have reached the step that has you revelling in hope and optimism.  From here, you can see the top and now is the time to dream big and get specific about the things you want.  If you can get up enough inspiration and emotional will, you may even be able to launch yourself up the last few steps to the top, where all your dreams reside.  Here’s the catch though, no one stays at the top of the staircase forever.  The truth is, you’d get bored there.  It’s in our nature to want to be working toward something, to want to improve and to overcome adversity.  It’s in our DNA.  It’s part of being human.  From one day to the next, we climb up and down the staircase of life through many trials and tribulations.  Sometimes we get stuck for longer than we’d like on a particular step, or continually return to one on the regular.  If this is happening to you, chances are, you have something to learn from it, and you’ll keep returning to that step until you do.  The thing to remember is that it is in our power to climb or not climb.  We have the capacity to look around us right now in this very moment, find things to be grateful for, and start the process of ascension, no matter where you are on the staircase of life.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, HAIR & MAKEUP BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams. Hair cut and colour by Kitty of Berns and Black.

NEW FASHION: Flared pants by H&M, Velvet booties from Hudson’s Bay, Velvet jacket from Winners.

THRIFTED FASHION: Sunglasses, satin Chinese-inspired blouse, scarf.

VINTAGE FASHION: Embroidered hat.

Mirror Mirror

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who in this land is fairest of all?

It answered: You, my queen, are fair; it is true.
But Snow-White is a thousand times fairer than you.
The queen took fright and turned yellow and green with envy. From that hour on whenever she looked at Snow-White her heart turned over inside her body, so great was her hatred for the girl. The envy and pride grew ever greater, like a weed in her heart, until she had no peace day and night.

-Snow White, Grimm’s Fairytales

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“Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see …each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, competition– all such distortions within our own egos– condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions to our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others, and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other. That’s how it is in all living relationships except when there is that rare case of two people who love intensely enough to burn through all those layers of opacity and see each other’s naked hearts.”
― Tennessee Williams

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 It is staggering to think that even still in the year 2016, so much of a woman’s sense of worth and identity is deeply connected to her physical appearance.  It is so much a part of our culture and heritage, that many of us women are not even aware of our imprisonment to a value system that is as ancient as the first human civilizations.  Throughout the history of humanity, woman of countless cultures and generations have found themselves living in a world dominated by men, where they have had very little power or influence.  As a result, their appearance was often the only thing that gave them any sense of significance.  Women used their beauty and sexuality to manipulate, compete and control as a basic survival tactic in a world where their intelligence, compassion, resourcefulness, creativity, and all other assets were not recognized or valued by society.  I believe this has had a profound impact on every woman that is alive today.  We carry this history in our DNA.  We carry those experiences of our ancestors and we still have difficulty breaking free of it and not basing our self worth on what we see in the mirror.  The saddest part of this is how our diminished self worth and  has made us behave towards other women, who ultimately are suffering from the same lack of self love, whether they know it or not. We have come so far in our move towards feminism and empowerment of women, yet we still have so much further to go.  We still grasp desperately to youth and beauty and go to great lengths to reverse or stall a process that is inevitable and the most natural part of being human.  We desperately cling to something we can never keep, and place impossible standards and requirements on ourselves and others.  It’s insanity really.

Everyone appreciates beauty. Beauty is a gift of nature and it is a wonderful thing that should be celebrated. I am a fashion blogger/stylist after all!  I love beautiful things, people and aesthetic.  I admire and appreciate a beautiful woman as much as anyone else, but are we so superficial that that is as deep as it goes?  Does a beautiful women truly deserve the level of praise, attention and admiration that we place on her just because she was blessed with exceptional  DNA?  When did we start to value a woman’s beauty more than a woman’s accomplishments?  It’s scary to say, but I think it has always been this way.  I think we are still stuck here, and it is more than time to break free of these shackles ladies!  It is time to look a little deeper!  It is time to see each other for who we truly are and what we have actually accomplished in life, and praise those things. By all means, embrace beauty and celebrate it in yourself and others, but let’s not put it above all else. Let us not praise beauty above character and integrity.  Unfortunately the list is way to long of women we as a society are putting up on pedestals for their beauty alone, even when their character and integrity are questionable at best. This is incredibly sad, when there is a plethora of women in history that have accomplished incredible things, yet most of us have never heard of them because they were not notably beautiful and their accomplishments were undervalued simply because they were women. When someone mentions Audrey Hepburn, what comes to mind?  Like most people you probably think of her exceptional beauty and fame as an actress.  Did you know that she was an accomplished ballerina as well as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF (United Nation’s Children’s Fund) since 1954?  Did you know she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her incredible contributions to UNICEF?  Neither did I. We need to turn this around.

Ladies, I’m asking you to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and find who we actually are as people.  And for goodness sake, let’s please stop comparing and competing with one another and putting each other down!  Need I even say it? Confident women raise each other up and support one another.  This is how we build a better world.  This is how we encourage the next generation of girls to want to be more than just beautiful. This is how we teach the next generation of boys to value women for who they are, not for their appearance. #WomenSupportingWomen is not a fad or a trend.  It is a way of life and it is here to stay.  Get on board.  Join the tribe.  I’ve got your back, have you got mine? We can accomplish so much more if we work together and support one another.

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<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/164028819″>Mirror, Mirror</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/electricmonkmedia”>Electric Monk Media</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

MODELS, HAIR & MAKEUP: Leanne Sanders and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

STYLING: Patron of Dreams

FASHION: 

Leanne’s Look: Cheetah print bikini by American Apparel, vintage dress, mask by Rampant Design Leather

Tara’s Look: Vintage boots, vintage belt, embroidered jacket by Nygard, mask by Rampant Design Leather

SHAKTI

Shakti  “is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Divine Mother’ in Hinduism. In her avatar as Akshara Mandhapati, her power is her uncontrollable energy. On the earthly plane, Shakti most actively manifests through female embodiment and creativity/fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form. Hindus believe that Shakti is both responsible for creation and the agent of all change.”

-Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

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Photo by Michael Sanders

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Photo by Michael Sanders

Welcome to one of the most beautiful looking and feeling stores in the city of Winnipeg!  Shakti is one of my favourite places to shop.  It is absolutely jam packed with treasures from all over the globe, and is positively brimming with light and colour and inspiration!  The store’s owner and staff are warm, approachable, and exceptionally helpful and knowledgable about their products. I always look forward to my visits there! If you are from Winnipeg and you haven’t shopped here, you absolutely should!  I also highly recommend it to out-of-towners.  It is a perfect place to pick out a meaningful gift to bring home to a loved one, and it is conveniently located in Osborne Village which is a hotspot of shops, restaurants, coffee shops and bars in Winnipeg. Definitely a place to see and be seen while visiting!  Also, good news for everyone not from Winnipeg.  Shakti has an on-line SHOP they are currently developing, where many of their gorgeous treasures are available for sale.

Shakti is a boutique shop which carries beads, clothing, home accessories, jewelry, and jewelry making supplies. They even offer jewelry making workshops to help get you started on your own creative projects.  Their goods are sourced from various countries around the world. They prefer to buy directly from the artisans, individuals or families that make the beautiful items, and they try to use suppliers who are committed to fair trade.  These are just some of the reasons it makes you feel good to shop here!

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Photo by Michael Sanders

So, why do we choose to become regular patrons of some stores/brands, but not others?  What do the stores/brands where we regularly spend our time and money say about us? I think it is a question worth asking ourselves, because it is one of the concrete ways in which we determine what types of goods are available to us in the future. Every time we spend money, we are voting with our dollars.  We are saying “I like this, and I want more of it!” We are determining what our future shopping experience will look like. Where we shop can say a lot about what we value.  The fact that I am a regular at a store that sells items from all over the globe says something about me.  It also says something that I am infinitely more supportive of Shakti  because the store’s owner travels annually herself across the globe to meet face to face with artisans and hand-pick most of the products that are later for sale in her store.  Not to mention how appealing it is to me that Shakti is clearly promoting creativity.  Endless rows of beads and jewelry making supplies call out to you and remind you that, not only do we need clothing and housewares (which are also available there), but we need to make things and be creative too.  Creativity is an essential part of life.  The same can be said for the stones and crystals, singing bowls and smudges.  They tell us that we are spiritual beings as well as physical beings and we need to nurture that part of ourselves as well.  The entire store has a holistic essence.  It is a well rounded experience to shop there and it keeps me coming back again and again.

So, I implore you as a consumer to think about what you want more of in the future?  Who deserves your patronage?  Where will you spend your hard earned dollars?  What stores/brands do you feel really good about?  Shop there!  And do it with a smile because you are a driving force in the world we live in!  You do have a say and, like SHAKTI, you can be responsible for creation and an agent of change.

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Photo by Michael Sanders

 

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Photo by Michael Sanders

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Photo by Michael Sanders

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Photo by Michael Sanders

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Photo by Michael Sanders

Photography By: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

Styling, Modelling, Makeup, Hair and Artistic Direction: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

Styling and Prop Assistant: Kelsey Purves, Metalsan Jewelry

THANK YOU to Shakti’s owner and staff for all their hands-on help during this photo-shoot.

*All clothing, jewelry, and props shown are from Shakti, located at 194 B Osborne St., Winnipeg, Manitoba.* note: earrings, nose ring and wedding ring are my own.

Sand Sirens

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

“First you will come to the Sirens who enchant all who come near them.  If any one unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song.”

– The Odyssey, By Homer (Translated by Samuel Butler) 

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

The Siren is both alluring and terrifying.  She draws you in, enticing you with the promise of something you desire, only to destroy you when you finally succumb to her.  Or does she destroy you?  Maybe she is a symbol of your innermost dreams and desires.  A symbol of that nagging feeling you have when you know you are not living up to your greatest potential.  When you are idle and settling for mediocrity because you are afraid. That feeling that draws you back to your dreams. That feeling that you find both alluring and terrifying because you know what it means if you give in to it.  It will pull you towards change, transformation and the death of life as you now know it.  As a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, it must experience the destruction of its old form and the discomfort of evolving into something new and magnificent.  Maybe if you face your fear and answer the Siren’s song, you will find your truest self.  Maybe you will become the greatest version of you that is possible.

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:

Photography By: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

Styling By: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

Modelling By: Accalia Robertson, Laura Canfield, and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

Hair By: The Rain and Wind

Makeup By: Toban Schioler & Ashleigh Hawrysh Haier

VIDEO:

Produced By: Michael Sanders and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

Music By: Preston Cole-McCaffrey

Featured Designers:

Metalsan Jewelry: Earrings, cuff bracelets, rings and necklaces

Rampant Design Custom Leather: Water Warrior Harness, Long Water Fringe Collar and Water Fringe Cuff

Melodia Designs: Diana Bamboo Wrap Halter tops (Copper, Creme, Teal)

Vintage: Rajasthani anklets and belts

Thrift: Pink faux fur jacket and black shag cardigan.  Harem pants custom design by Patron of Dreams.

On Trend: Sequin shorts and gold chain belt by H&M, turquoise disco shorts by American Apparel 

“When the tides change, you have two choices. You can either stand there, letting the water wash over you and your feet sink deeper into the wet sand…or you can get out of the way. You can move up the beach – or off the beach, if you want. The point is to not get stuck.”
-Tricia Rayburn, Undercurrent

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Guests of Fashion Contest Winner!

A week ago, I posted a picture of my OOTD (outfit of the day) on my Instagram account.

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I’ve been doing this quite regularly since summer, so I never gave it a second thought, it’s just what I do and I love it.  My Husband had just gotten home from work and I was busy making dinner for our family.  Before he had a chance to take his shoes off I asked him if he could take a quick picture of me before it got too dark outside.  The kids were busy playing and dinner was ready to serve.  I quickly pinned my hair into a messy top knot , threw on my jacket and boots and ran outside to catch the light before it changed.  I remember thinking that I hoped there were no food splatters on my crisp white shirt from cooking. This is the not-so -glamourous, but oh-so-real side of a style blogger, and the reality of our busy lives that pull us in many directions all the time.

Shortly after I posted the pic, Guests of Fashion commented on it saying they loved my outfit and that they were running an #OOTD contest looking for the best outfit with Prints & Patterns and they’d love for me to enter.  So of course, I did!

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Within a short time, I realized that my picture was posted on their instagram account as their fifth and last finalist in the contest. The finalist with the most “likes” after 48 hours would be featured on the Guests of Fashion website. I considered that I had only been style blogging for less than 2 weeks and this was one of those magical moments when you are given a gift of opportunity.  Life experience has shown me that fortune favours the bold,  so I reached out to my social media community on very short notice to please go and like my pic, and that as they say, was that! I WON!

After a quick email exchange providing some personal details to the folks from Guests of Fashion over the Thanksgiving Long Weekend, Patron of Dreams is now being featured on their website!

I am so very grateful to Guests of Fashion for this opportunity and I’m feeling totally inspired and encouraged to continue on this amazing journey at full force!

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Vintage: 1970’s necklace
Thrifted: Beige jacket by XoMm (to be featured on my next blog post!)

Classic tailored shirt from GAP, floral satin trousers from Forever21, blue ankle boots by DIBA

 

The Circus Arrives Without Warning…

The Patron of Dreams has arrived!  Please step into my parlour where I will show you beautiful and eclectic fashion, art, film, and dance as I share my creative universe with you.  My greatest desires are to collaborate with the artists and creatives of the world to bring forth new and magnificent creations and most certainly to inspire!  I wish nothing more than for this blog to ignite your creative spark or fan your already burning flames, and to remind you that there truly is magic in the world for those who choose to see it!  When the light is just right, or time seems to disappear.  When all the obstacles vanish to make way for YOU so you can bring to the world whatever it is that only YOU can do!  I am incredibly grateful to be surrounded by some of the most talented and creative people in the world who inspire me and encourage my creative journey every day.  I hope to showcase some of these artistic gems on the blog as our collaborations unfold.  I am so very full of gratitude to be embarking on this new adventure and sharing my journey with you!  I hope you enjoy!

Let it be exclaimed loud and clear from the mountain tops that I owe a dept of gratitude to Michael Sanders of Electric Monk Media for all his tech savvy and incredible eye behind the camera, for this blog would truly not exist without him.  Above all, my greatest thanks is for his endless enthusiasm for my crazy creative endeavours.  I’m sincerely amazed and grateful every time he agrees to collaborate with me!  Also, to my beloved Gregory Chomichuk who is always an inspiration and constant supporter of everything I do!  You should check his blog out, he’s truly amazing!

Welcome to the Carnival!

To me the carnival represents another world.  A place where anything can happen, a place of imagination and fun where you can let your hair down and walk on the wild side.  It’s a place for the senses to be thrilled.  The carnival is magic, mystery and mischief!  This is why I chose it for my very first blog post.  In a way, I feel as though I’ve run away to join the circus with all the other interesting folks who are unapologetically living life on the fringe.  I believe the world needs more authenticity, and that is what I plan to show you.  I’ve arrived, travel trunk in hand and ready for bold adventure!  Let’s see where this crazy ride takes us!  Enjoy!

Photo by Michael Sanders @electricmonks

Photo by Michael Sanders @electricmonks

PHOTOS by: Michael Sanders of Electric Monk Media

MODEL: Yours Truly (a.k.a Patron of Dreams)

HAIR by: Laura Warren of Hat Trix Hair Salon

MAKEUP by: Patron of Dreams

STYLING by: Patron of Dreams

SCRIPT POSTER by: Artist Kal Barteski

VINTAGE: shoes,top hat, fur stole, velour vest, crinoline, crocheted gloves, travelling trunk, turkish and afghani jewelry, banjara textile belt, marching band jacket
THRIFTED: velvet skirt
Parasol from Prairie Sky Books, Lace Crocheted top by Sans Souci, Leopard print bra by Xhilaration,  Striped tights and lace bandeau by American Apparel, Pants by Patron of Dreams