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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Kaleidoscope Heart & Soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Gregory Chomichuk 

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

CURRENT FASHION: Velvet bellbottoms from Lenni the Label

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

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

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Death of Winter

For winter’s rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
 – Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)

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Spring arrives quietly and coyly.  She does not make grand entrances.  She plays a teasing game of hide and seek, popping in and out of our view with a faint and echoing giggle.  She is flirtatious, but innocent and child-like.  She wants you to chase her and catch her if you can, but no one ever has.  She is an apparition.  Nostalgia personified.  A playful creature who runs between the headstones of winter’s graveyard, gently placing flowers on the graves of other people’s loved ones.  She dries the tears on the cheeks of the grieving with a new warmth that pushes through the heavy clouds.  She cracks the hard protective shell they have built around themselves over the dark cold months, seemingly effortlessly like a tulip pushing up between stones.  She warms their reluctantly exposed skin, and then tickles them awake with shivers as she blows her spring breeze, raining down apple blossoms like pink and lavender kisses from a thousand goddesses. They smile in spite of themselves. She whispers warm and breathy in their ear in the early morning half-sleep.  “Wake up my dearest, the world is waiting for you.  The trees are sighing, the water is trickling and the sun is reaching out to touch you.  Come outside and play with me.  It’s time to put your sadness away with your wintery things and feel the earth beneath the souls of your feet. It’s time to open your eyes and awaken. Spring is here, it is time to live!”

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And Spring arose on the garden fair,

Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;

And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast

rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant”

As spring yawns and stretches itself awake, I encourage you to let go of the things that no longer serve you.  It is a time of new life, of rebirth and growth.  This glorious natural cycle does not dis-clude you.  You too are part of the whole and can take advantage of the natural energies of change and ride the wave into an improved self.  Every year the buds pop and the flowers bloom, but they are never the same as the year before, and they don’t strain to exist!  Why should you?  Why should you carry the weight and worry of the previous seasons on your shoulders?  Why can’t you be new? If you allow yourself to let go and surrender your need to feel in control of your life, you may discover your natural place as part of the whole and like nature, you will pop and bloom effortlessly into a life that flows uninhibited by the weight of the past or the fear of the future.

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Photography, Cinematography and Editing by: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

Hair & Makeup by: Laura Warren, Hat Trix Hair Salon

Styling, Artistic Direction, Music & Modelling by: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

Assisted by: Leanne Sanders, Marc Greene and Dylan Fries

WEARING:

Vintage: Victorian-inspired blouse, leather pencil skirt, rabbit fur stole, pearls and pearl earrings.

Current: leather corset by Rampant Design Leather, leather platform boots by Jeffrey Campbell

*Special thanks to my friend Accalia for lending me her gorgeous silver finger tips for this shoot.

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.