Over The Top With a Cherry On Top

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“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.”  -Oscar Wilde

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”  -Mae West

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” – Dale Carnegie

“Life is short. Eat dessert first. ” ― Jacques Torres

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The creation of this shoot was an absolute pleasure and guilt-free indulgence with fellow fashion stylist Monique Andrew, Style Hunter Fox.  We share the same love and passion for creating a story with styling and decorative design.  We agreed that if we were to join forces, then we must go big.  In truth, I think going small would have been an impossibility for us together. When those creative juices start flowing, it can be difficult to reign them in. We knew that with both of us throwing our passion into it, it would have to be fantastically bold, and so, what better subject than Marie Antoinette and her over the top decadent and indulgent lifestyle.

I was fortunate enough on this shoot to collaborate with some amazing local businesses and talents.  All of the mouth watering baking was provided by Winnipeg gem, Pinky’s Bakeshop, and YES, we ate it!  The incredible one of a kind, re-worked vintage jewelry was provided by Vintage Bling. The intricate and beautiful white lazer-cut bustier worn by model Madeline Brandt was provided by designer Rebecca Johnson.  The photography was  done by Winnipeg photographer Dano Tanaka, and the location of the shoot was graciously provided by my Grandmother, Judy Cole.  The gorgeously elaborate hair was the creation of Monique Andrew, Style Hunter Fox. The creative concept, artistic direction and styling was the collaborative love child of both Monique and I.

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I am a true believer that when you feel good, you do good!  When I am feeling joyful and excited and my cup runneth over, I am my most generous and giving self and it feels effortless.  I think it is really important to indulge and treat ourselves every once in a while without guilt or shame.  We feel wonderful when we can pamper or treat someone else, so why not ourselves?  In this case, I think that balance is key.  We know how distasteful opulence, excess and extravagance can be when it becomes someone’s everyday lifestyle.  No one in history has taught us better than Marie Antoinette, how shallow, short-sited and ultimately destructive excessive indulgence can be. However, self deprivation and habitually denying yourself pleasure can be just as destructive and leave us feeling resentful and un-able to give back to the world around us.  True happiness lies somewhere in the middle.  Sometimes we go without and focus on others and sometimes we should have our cake and eat it too. Hopefully we enjoy our cake not with a side of guilt and shame, but instead, with a cherry on top.

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It is my wish and desire, especially as the holiday season approaches, that this post inspires you to suck the marrow out of life a little more than usual.  Don’t just eat that macaron, savour it. Stop to smell the crisp fall air or study the colours of the sunset. Drink champagne instead of your regular bottle of wine and celebrate that you are alive! Why do we need more reason than that to celebrate?  Wear something decadent hiding in the back of your closet, like the satin or velvet that makes you feel gorgeous and treat yourself with a manicure or new hairdo, or even something as simple as whipped cream on your hot chocolate. Go over the top, just because.  You don’t have to spend money or be wasteful to indulge either.  Wear those sexy underwear and silk robe you’ve been saving for a “special occasion” on a weeknight just for the hell of it! Use those fancy dishes you inherited that are collecting dust in the basement.  Put on Grandma’s diamond ring and the fur coat she left to you that you tucked away in a box somewhere and host a tea party!   The point is, life is short and it’s okay to indulge sometimes.

Like Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

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PHOTOGRAPHY: Dano Tanaka

STYLING & ARTISTIC DIRECTION: Monique Andrew, Style Hunter Fox  and Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

HAIR: Monique Andrew, Style Hunter Fox

MAKEUP: Each model applied their own makeup

MODELS: Monique Andrew, Madeline Brandt, Tara Cole-McCaffrey

JEWELRY: Vintage Bling

BUSTIER: Designer, Rebecca Johnson

BAKING: Pinky’s Bakeshop

* Special thanks to Angela Brandt for all her help and support at this shoot! xo

Let Fashion Transform You

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” —Bill Cunningham

“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.” —Lauren Hutton

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” —Rachel Zoe

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn”
― Orson Welles

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One of the most satisfying things about fashion, is how it enables us to transform ourselves over and over again.  In a chameleon-like way, we can express all the different sides of our personality by shining a spot-light on a specific part of ourselves through the clothes we choose to put on.  We can visit different eras in history and through styling the fashions of the time, we get a taste of the energy of that time and get to experience the feeling of that moment in history. We can also mix and match eras with our fashion and create a new energy and feeling that is all our own, or try on a lifestyle we don’t have just to see how it might feel. The clothes we wear can also allow us ease in manoeuvring through the variety of places, people, and circumstances we find ourselves in. I have found that my ability to adapt my style to the company I’m keeping, places I visit, or events I attend has been invaluable to me, and it’s also half the fun! Fashion allows us to wear our feelings on the outside if we want to, or to change our mood when we start the day in a funk and want to turn that around.

You can almost always tell how I am feeling or what type of mood I am in by what I’m wearing.  The process of getting dressed in the morning is so much more than just covering my body with coordinated clothing.  It is about tuning into how I’m feeling, or how I’d like to feel, checking in with myself and becoming aware of what traits of mine are feeling amplified.  I dress to the dominant characteristics that come through with the mood I’m in each day.  Some days I’m subdued and all I want is comfort and ease.  Some days spike heels and a push-up bra feel like my second skin. Sometimes I’m wacky and contrasting because I’m feeling artistic or counter culture.  Some days I’m just in jeans and a t-shirt, although admittedly, this is pretty rare for me. Some days I like to push the bar with a provacative attitude that says, “just try and question me on this look!  I dare you!”

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I think that it’s important for people not to get too attached to a specific style or look that they identify with, or they may begin to feel uncomfortable when they aren’t wearing it.  What I mean to say is, are you wearing your clothes or are your clothes wearing you?  Is your comfort so tied to the style you’ve adopted that you are no longer expressing certain sides of yourself?  Is your inner vamp being stifled by your black skinny jeans and t-shirt?  Are you afraid of colour or contrast because you are afraid you’ll attract too much attention to yourself? Are you becoming less adventurous in life because every time you go out you wear your little black dress instead of trying something new?  Does our lack of adventurousness in life cause a lack of adventurousness in our style, or is it the other way around?  Hmmm.  I would hazard a guess that if you took more chances with your style, it would positively impact your life.  I’m going to take the plunge and even suggest that being more adventurous and allowing your style to better reflect your feelings on a daily basis would have a dramatic positive effect on how you feel about yourself and that it will translate into a more positive life experience.  The clothes you choose to put on every morning can empower you tremendously and transform your life, or they can drain you and sap you of your motivation.  You have to admit that you feel exceptionally different in sweat pants and a hoodie than you do in a dress and heels, and I’m not talking about physical comfort.  I’m talking about the energy created by how you feel about yourself in one look versus another.  One of these looks leads to adventure and who knows what, and the other leads to Netflix and chips.

Sometimes you just need to push your own boundaries and step outside of your comfort zone. Even the simple addition of a scarf or other accessories to a very basic outfit can be an incredible energetic mood boost. Each one of us is made up of all kinds of personality traits, and moods that are equally a part of us.  If you aren’t already, I strongly urge you to play with your style and express some of those sides of yourself, if for no other reason than just to have FUN!  That is what fashion and style is really all about in the end.  It’s not meant to be intimidating and serious.  It’s about creation and exploration and self expression at it’s core.  It’s a tool.  It’s the paint and your body is the canvas.  Have some fun, get creative and let those hidden sides of yourself shine forth. It’s so simple, yet so incredibly liberating!

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

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

THRIFTED FASHION: Traditional Scottish wool plaid skirt from Ruby Slipper, Boots from The Goodwill Store.

MODERN FASHION:Gold body suit and tights by American Apparel, feather earrings from The Haberdashery

VINTAGE: Faux fur leopard print jacket

 

 

HOBO CHIC

Down around the corner
A half a mile from here
You see them old trains runnin’
And you watch them disappear
Without love
Where would you be now
Without love…

Where pistons keep on churnin’
And the wheels go ’round and ’round
And the steel rails are cold and hard
For the miles that they go down
Without love
Where would you be right now
Without love
Where would you be now

-The Doobie Brothers, Long Train Runnin 

The Doobie Brothers, Long Train Runnin-Video

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” -John Steinbeck

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Each and every one of us is on a journey.  A journey away from where we have been, towards some kind of unknown future.  In this we are the same.  No matter how organized, well intentioned or thoughtful you are about planning the course you want your life to take, the truth is none of us really knows how our life will unfold.  We have plans, wishes, desires, dreams and many of us have plotted out a course to achieve all those things. But life often has a different idea about where you’re going doesn’t it?  Life seems to direct us all over the map, throwing up obstacles and curve balls and even sending us in what appears to be the opposite direction from our goals.

When I was in my 20’s, I had my life very clearly planned out. In fact, most of it was set out in my mind as a teenager. I was more than a little bit Type A and a bit of an over-achiever, but still far from a perfectionist thank goodness. I knew what I wanted and I was adamant that I be one of those people that accomplished everything that they set out to do, instead of someone who just talks about things but never gets around to doing them.  The truth is, I was rather effective with this approach to life.  I fell in love, started a career in Environmental Science, bought a house and a car, got married, travelled to exotic locations, got a dog, and was pregnant with my first child all before the age of 30. I had accomplished everything I set out to do in record time. Some call this success.  But I wasn’t completely satisfied, and I was only moderately happy.  The key thing that never sat right with me was that the road to get there was really difficult, and somehow I always felt that if I was on the right path, I would find more ease in the process.  If I am completely honest, it was a real slog.  I was exhausted and drained and getting where I was going felt like an up-hill climb against the grain.  I had proven to myself that whatever you put your mind and focus on you can achieve, but what had I put my mind and focus on?  I was completely focussed on all the typical milestones that society has deemed worthy goals.   I put all my attention and focus on the things I thought I was supposed to do. Things I knew people would approve of and encourage and praise. I was following the path of millions who came before me and I was looking for external gratification and approval instead of following my own passions and dreams.  In doing so, I landed precisely where I aimed.  The middle.  I was completely successful at landing right smack dab in the middle of mainstream mediocrity, and it was a slog to get there.  I had created a perfectly average, middle-class, working for a pay-check lifestyle.  Life was ok. Life was beige.  I had very few lows, but I had almost no highs.  Every day was just “meh”.  Rise and grind, sleep, repeat. I was taking very few risks and as a result, was completely un-inspired!  I feel exceptionally blessed that I had a wake-up call in my early 30’s. The road I was on came to a screeching halt when my first son was born.  Not to be cliché, but it truly opened my eyes! I think it saved me from a fate too many experience. The all too common mid-life crises.  At 30 I looked at my life and all my accomplishments and said “what now?”  Is this really all there is?  Is this really what I’ve been working so hard for?  I was bored and stressed out all at the same time.  Something was seriously amiss.

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One of life’s little synchronisities.  Me and ‘ol Chimney Top had a moment.  He gets me! 

So here’s what I’ve learned since.  The more you try to control every experience in your life, the smaller and more mundane your life becomes.  Control is based in fear. The fear that if you let go and leave it up to anyone or anything else, all hell will break loose.  When you live like this, the energy and passion and purpose you are here to fulfill gets sucked out of your experiences and life becomes an endless series of to-do lists.  Life only started to get interesting for me when I started to let go.  I mean really let go. It was an act of loving kindness towards myself when I began to surrender to the twisting, turning, strangely winding road of life with trust and faith instead of trying to control every twist and turn.  This has been exceptionally difficult for me at times, but oh so necessary.  The word surrender has always had terrible connotations to me.  It was something that the weak did when they had no more fight in them by waving their white flag and giving up, whereby ending up a prisoner in someone else’s kingdom. The feisty warrior woman in me was repulsed by this idea.  I’d rather die fighting than surrender!  But life isn’t an action movie and I’m not on a battle field.  The truth is, I’d rather live than die fighting. I had to re-define surrender for myself. I realized that my definition was holding me back.  Surrender really means letting go of the need to control every situation, and by doing so, releasing all of the resistance you create as a result.  I was a ball of tension and I needed to let that shit go!

So, I gave up!  I gave up my average, mediocre, safe little life in the middle.  I started living with passion.  I started taking risks, I started focussing on things that really mattered to me, whether people approved and praised it or not. I gave up on average and started shooting for the moon, so even if I fall short, I’ll land among the stars.  When I started doing this, an amazing thing happened.  My life started creating itself.  I no longer had to force things into place by exhausting myself trying to control everything.  As I took one step towards my goals, things just started to unfold and one positive experience led me to the next.  This is what people mean when they say follow your bliss.  You have to let go and trust and move in the direction of your enthusiasm and excitement. This is where the magic happens and the momentum begins to pick up.  This is where strange twists and turns you could never have planned out lead you to the most incredible people, situations and opportunities.   The second I begin to tightly clutch at life or try to make things happen instead of allowing them to unfold, all the obstacles show up and life gets really difficult again.  This is not to say that life will ever be easy, but there is a big difference between physical exhaustion from the hussle, and mental and emotional exhaustion from just trying to get through your un-inspiring day with no flow whatsoever.  I’m still learning and growing, but I know I am moving in the right direction. Life truly is a journey after all, and there really is no destination.  I know now, that you never really get there.  We are all just travellers passing through and having experiences at every stop.  So trust in the journey.  Let go, surrender, and allow this crazy train to take you on the ride of your life. The life you are supposed to lead.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

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

VINTAGE: Hat, blouse, vest, jackets, backpack (I’ve had since I was 17.  It came to Europe with me), wrist warmers, rings and pipe.

CURRENT FASHION: earrings from Urban Waves, skirt by Nygard, velvet boots by Shellys London , from Hudson’s Bay Company.

 

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

SUMMER 1978

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It was the height of the Disco era and the birth of Rap music growing on top of a solid foundation of psychedelic rock n roll and earthy folk melodies. Rollerskating, skateboarding, and arcades were all the rage. Women were burning bras, getting educated and fighting for equality. The top movies were Grease, Saturday Night Fever and Close Encounters of The Third Kind.  Sony introduced the portable Walkman (first portable stereo), and Maya Angelou released her book And Still I Rise. The shorts couldn’t get any shorter, pants couldn’t get any wider, and the sunglasses and cars couldn’t get any bigger. It was 1978!  The year I was born and the world had been shaken up and forever changed by the Hippie movement from the previous decade. The people had been given a glimpse into another way to live. It was a significant time of adjustment and transformation.  The Hippies had grown up and the reality that the world they live in was not entirely ready for their ideas yet had driven many to disfunction, and resulted in truckloads of cocaine coming across the border into North America.   The older generations were staunchly tightening their grip on solid family values, religion, and hard work. Racism and sexism were still firmly in place, but the youth were resisting hard and breaking down those walls one brick at a time, while trying to have a little fun along the way.

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As a new born baby, oblivious to the woes of the world, I could not have known that the youth of that era were setting the stage for a new kind of world, and that one day, I would pick up their torch and continue to fight the good fight for their cause.  The fight for a better world with broader perspectives and more freedom of choice. The fight that is fought through the choices we make each and every day.  Imagine a world without judgement, where a woman could choose to stay home to raise her children or go to work, a Man could love and marry another Man, schools filled with many mixed races of children would be unaffected by their differences.  Sadly this world still does not exist without much push back and judgement.  But we are getting there.  One generation at a time.  So I say THANK YOU!  To all the generations before mine who set the stage.  Oceans of gratitude to all the older folks we butt heads with now, who in their youth, were the agents of change.  Always remember that there is a time for everything, and everything in it’s time.  Your Parents and Grandparents had their own fights to fight and resistance to the status quo of the era they were born into. There were few that just accepted it as it was and that is why our world is different than it was in the past.  We are evolving and it takes time and patience and perseverance. In time, your children, and the youth in your life will challenge you and resist the world that you have created.  Smile when this happens, because it is the way of the world and necessary for our growth.  Help that next generation any way you can instead of standing in their way.  See yourself in them and all the young idealists that came before.  They are a pain in the ass, but it’s a very necessary pain. Growth is painful. They will better the world with our without your help.  Just remember that they are not fighting a different fight, they are picking up the torch from your youth and carrying on your work within a world that has changed. The packaging is different, but the fight is still the same.  The fight is for something better.  The fight is for growth and evolution of humanity and a better world.  What could be more important than that?

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

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

STYLING: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

FASHION: 

Leanne’s lst look: shorts and knee-high socks-American Apparel; t shirt- Junk 98, sneakers-Puma, belt and sunglasses – vintage.

Leanne’s 2nd look: jeans-H&M, blouse-vintage

Tara’s 1st look: tube top and sunglasses-vintage; culotte pants-vintage Jones New York; sneakers-vintage Adidas.

2nd look:jeans – H&M, blouse-vintage

Special thanks: to Leanne for always being willing to play dress up with me! To my Brothers for lending me treasures from their vintage record collections.  To my Father in Law for the use of the vintage treasures found in his garage and his rad 8-track still in use in the Gazebo. And to my ever supportive Husband Gregory, for wrangling the kids while I played set-up and dress-up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!