cait +tiff


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C / Update on the Reboot

debbie

Photo by Irving Penn

Hi. So last week, I boldly declared that I was going to fill my brain with all the inspiration I could manage, and be a changed person by Friday. The thing is, when you are filling your body with pizza and cocktails, it’s sort of hard to feed your brain online classes and meaningful literature.

The actual update on what I said I was going to do:

  • Take online class. I did not take an online class. I did look at them, and consider it, but then I went to happy hour.
  • Read a whole book. There was no way this was ever going to happen, I don’t know why I set myself up for failure, I never even looked into what book to read.
  • Starting Yoga again. I DID THIS. It’s the hot kind, and I sweat so much that a woman stopped me in the street after class to make sure I was ok.
  • Go to a museum. I did this too! Actually, I did it twice, so I think I get double points and one of the trips to a museum counts as taking a class.

According to my math, that is 3/4-ish, so I feel pretty good about my inspiration week. And, AND, I am filling this week with even more artsy shit that makes me want to create again. I do want to get back in to making things, my hands are getting restless. I saw the Irving Penn exhibit at The Met yesterday and I just filled with energy, in a way that I haven’t experienced in a while. I am not a photographer, but Penn has done some of the most incredible work I have seen, and it’s impossible for me to look away from it. So I bought the $70 coffee table book, which weighs 1400 lbs and is going to be an awesome carryon.

So I did some of my self-imposed homework, but the thing that I found most inspiring this week, was having conversations with people I love about the work I am doing right now. I have a lovely job and work for a friend, but my brain has started to wander.

I applied for a job a few weeks ago that I was SO EXCITED about. It seemed like the perfect fit, and I took a lot of care with my application and cover letter, and I made my friends read my CV and sex it up for me. I felt so good about sending it all in, and I was confident that I would be a great fit for the job.

I haven’t heard anything back, and it’s been two weeks, so that ship has probably sailed. Which is fine, ship sail all the damn time, that is what they are supposed to do. But as I have been talking through all of these things with people this week, it has become pretty clear that I need to get back to making things. It’s where my brain goes back to before I go to sleep, and it is what my brain has filled with while I am walking around New York.

So, I am getting back into it. I even got a new notebook and fancy new pencils this weekend, and you know I can’t waste back-to-school supplies.

Have a lovely Tuesday.

caitsig

 

 


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C / Make Bad Art

drips.JPG

Last week, I started painting. I haven’t painted in a long time, not since fashion school a few years ago, and it was fun to get paint all over myself and spend the afternoon creating things. I now feel the intense need to invest in overalls. (Okay, more overalls.)

I remember painting with my grandma in Wisconsin, when I was probably 12. She was a wonderful painter, mostly did landscape stuff, and would work only with watercolors. I wanted to learn how to do it, so she set up a little table for me next to hers, and showed me how to paint a birch tree.

I didn’t want to paint a birch tree, I had absolutely no interest in a birch tree. I wanted to paint something big and exciting and I wanted it to be easy and I wanted to be the best at it. (I was not the most reasonable child.) But she was in charge, as she always was, and we were going to paint a goddamn birch tree.

So we painted trees, mine was crap and hers was lovely and elegant. I decided that painting wasn’t going to be my thing, because I wasn’t good at it, and I didn’t take an art class again until I was 32. (Note: this sounds like my grandmother turned me off from art, and it was certainly not that, it was my own weird perfectionism and impatience that did that.)

Anyway, I ended up painting three days in a row last week, and it was nice. I like physically doing it, mixing and messing around with colors and somehow always getting it in my hair, which just makes no sense at all. The stuff I make is BAD, it is not good, it is not pretty, it’s not even interesting, and it doesn’t mean anything. I mean, I painted my jeans on Saturday, and they we lopsided. I painted something that sort of looked like bamboo, but if bamboo feel into a motel art competition in the early 80’s. The best thing I did all week was when I wet an entire page of water color paper with water and dripped color onto with no creative direction at all.

The freeing thing about it, is that I am not trying to get better at it. I like doing it, and I feel like I rarely get to just do something without the intention of improving, and somehow winning at that thing. This might be an American thing, we are always trying to be the best at stuff and unproductive time is seen as wasted. But I am slowly starting to see the benefits of doing something poorly, like making bad art.

So here are photos of my non-precious, total garbage paintings. I will probably recycle them, because they will contribute more to the world that way, which is fine with me.

all the bad art.jpg

caitsig


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C / two things I learned yesterday

I have been taking meditation classes for the past few months. It’s been helpful to have a class every week that helps me be less of a spaz while I am going through a bunch of transitions in life. (Note: transitions take a damn long time.) I am taking a mindfulness series at The Den, which is a little haven of beautiful things and nice people, right near Mood fabrics on LaBrea. The class is taught by Heather Prete, who is the kind of wonderful that people pretend to be. If she started a cult, I would be first in line to drink the Koolaid.

Anyway, the classes are wonderful, and though I rarely feel like I am “doing it right” I am loving it, and the practice has brought a lot of good stuff into my bouncy brain. We just started a new series last night, and the class focus was on equanimity.

I am going to be honest here, I didn’t really know what equanimity was until last night. It’s basically the ability to keep a balanced state of mind, despite the conditions around you. You are able to accept what is, but not in a way that you ignore it, or avoid it. You can still have a discerning mind, and have opinions on the issue at hand, but you keep it together. It’s the ability to accept the situation without adding more layers of stress to it. This definition is clearly from my class notes.

This is kind of a hard one for me, because I love to judge my judgements, and I pile all kinds of stuff on top of seemingly simple issues. It’s my favorite. During the class, Heather said something that really works for me.

“Everything is perfect, just as it is, and it could use a lot of improvement.”

This was said by someone, whose name I forgot to write down.
I constantly feel like I am behind on my life. Switching careers in your 30’s is not a great way to feel “caught up.” When I think about it, and I am feeling rational, I know that there is nothing to catch up on, and there is no place that I am “supposed” to be. When I am NOT feeling logical, I compare myself to others, feel like I have wasted my life making other people happy and now I am looking for work at 33 and everyone else is like 5 and went to art school and is better than me and they have a thigh gap and I maybe this haircut wasn’t the best idea and how the hell do you write a cover letter and this is what a spiral looks like. Ta-da!
I like this quote because its a linear way of resetting my brain, that I am where I am supposed to be, that I am not running late on my life, that I’m not doing it wrong.
The other thing that was said that really stuck with me was this:

“When we lose our equanimity and become deregulated, it means something needs attention.”
Heather said this, and it’s basically a way of saying “THANK YOU,  FOR THE POWER TO LOSE MY SHIT.” That’s how I took it, at least. When we become deregulated and feel overwhelmed, it’s our brain poking us in the face and saying “Hey, dummy. Stop it, I don’t like that.” Then your balanced, chill brain can be like “Oh hi, spaz brain, I see you there. I smell what you are stepping in, and I am going to take care of it.” So while I can try to stay equanimous (new word, 5 points!), listening to how you feel is also super important and your emotions are sort of a warning system for physical or emotional danger.
I am not totally sure if that all made sense or not, but it was super helpful to me.
Love, California Cait, who has totally buried herself in every cliché and is going to do pilates and drink green juice now. Maybe yoga later, who knows?
caitsig


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C / a year ago

show

A year ago today, I was in a car with my parents on the way to Kep. I was exhausted, because the day before, I had put on my first fashion show.

I think it took me a while after the show to figure out how I felt. I know this, because people kept asking me, and I would just stare into the distance and say “good, really good.” Lies. Nothing profound came to me because it was the beginning, and no one ever realizes what is happening at the beginning.

I do, however, remember everything that went wrong with the show. Every stupid detail.

  • One of the models didn’t even walk because the dress was re-fitted too many times and I tried to save it but I couldn’t.
  • A few of the dresses that were dyed turned out too light, and I hated the sad-lavender color that I couldn’t change.
  • One of the dresses ripped before the show.
  • The makeup took longer than we thought so we didn’t have time for a proper run-through before the show and no one got touch-ups before walking.
  • I really wanted all the models to be comfortable so I ended up designing things more for them and less for me.
  • One of the shirts was made with a neckline so small, the model had to take out her hair, that had just been done, and wiggle her way into it.
  • There weren’t enough drink tickets.
  • At one point, the damn DJ came down to the runway DURING the show to take photos for himself, and missed the cue for the finale. He only came back up to his booth after seeing my head explode with expletives. He had one job. One. Job.
  • I said bad words really loudly.
  • I wanted to include more people but I was worried that the venue was too small so I had to say no to people when they wanted to come support me.

I remember being sweaty, and chugging champagne, hoping it would take hold of my brain, or at least take care of the nerves. I remember being mad at the champagne when it did neither. One of my lovely model/friends did a little toast for me before the show, and it was probably very sweet. I, of course, don’t remember anything she said, because I was SO not in the moment and instead, running through all the scenarios where everything went wrong and someone caught on fire and died and everyone hated the clothes and Anna Wintour was there and said “you will NEVER make it in fashion” in front of all of my friends who by then, of course, hated me. None of those things happened, but welcome to how anxiety feels.

The entire night I felt an inch away from tears, and it was exhausting. Fashion is so glamorous.

I did cry when my dad gave a speech at the end of the show, in front of everyone. It was a happy cry, and my heart still fills up when I think of it. I cried when I saw Tiff walk, because she was the person that pushed me into designing, and had an incredible amount of faith in me when I deserved none of it. I also cried when my mom walked, because it was my MOM and she was walking in my fashion show and how do you not cry? And…I might be crying now, whatever. Mind your business.

In any case, I really didn’t enjoy the show. But I am SO glad I did it. I was scared of it and had no idea what the power of vulnerability would do for me. Putting things out into the world to be judged has never been something I am comfortable with. I even tried to bribe my high school english teacher with two papers, so I wouldn’t have to present in front of the class. When we started the blog, I would tear through every piece I put up, scared that someone might see it and scoff. I’m sure that happens, it just doesn’t actually matter. But I would have never gotten to the place I am now, on my couch in LA, if I hadn’t done the show. The show made me a designer, for real. I designed a collection, my friends walked a runway lined with fake candles, and we had photoshoots and made a damn look book. How legit is a look book? So legit.

So I am thankful for the whole experience of the show. Would I change things? Of course, there was no world where I was going to walk out of the door and make it perfect. But it’s a place to grow from, and I like my cozy little starting point. It was kind, full of people I love, and I got free french fries afterwords. Honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be perfect. I can’t handle the pressure of constantly creating perfection, I’m not Adele.

If you want to see photos from the show, they are here, here, and here. I will always be grateful that my messy little show was full of so many incredible ladies. Thanks, guys.

caitsig

 

 

 


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T / ladies drawing brunch

ladies-drawing-brunch-headerSo last week, Rhiannon and I were chatting.  Specifically about how we both needed to draw more. And further, that we should draw together. And that we should invite other creative ladies in our lives to join us.  We wound up with two pros (Rhiannon and crazy talented visiting Nat) and a wonderful group of incredibly creative lady friends (including singers!).  Under the shade of the very hospitable Rambutan’s Phnom Penh Resort on a bright and cool Sunday in the city, we ordered tasty things, delicious leftover birthday cake was had, all pastels and coloured pencils came out.  And most importantly, we planned for future crafternoons. It was really the perfect thing.

ladies-drawing-brunch-tiff1ladies-drawing-brunch-tiff2I’m naturally easily distracted. Especially if I have a new toy with me.  So I was more than eager to shoot all the creating that was happening around me.

This afternoon was inspired by Leah Reena Goren’s new book, Ladies’ Drawing Night.  I’m a huge fan of her work.  Alongside fellow illustrators, Julia Rothman and Rachael ColeI love their push for this collaborative creativity.  We brought together a bunch of beautiful women, some of our dearest friends, some of whom had never met each other.  I was bursting with excitement watching new friendships form and hearing a desire for more events like these to happen. (Because I tend to be that creepy fly on the wall).  To be in this company of women?  Epic.

Rhiannon lead the session with timed drawing exercises surrounding a theme.  Your crazy uncle!  High heels!  Feet! The person sitting across from you! You have 3 minutes! Go!!  Check out what Rhiannon can do in that tiny speck of time.  Tiffany Tsang

Tiffany TsangWherever you are, I definitely recommend grabbing a bunch of your buddies, and spending a few hours letting your creative freak flag fly and discovering a side that doesn’t typically come out over just a glass of wine.


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. Cait + Tiff are not liable for any pastel-related clothing stains.


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T / it’s not another retirement

Photo Credit: Don Hong-Oai

Photo Credit: Don Hong-Oai

*Warning – there’s so much acknowledged privileged whining here.

When I left global public health consulting and a more traditional way of earning an income to live life as a millennial stereotype at the brink of 30, I joked and called it “early retirement.”  I was going to get to pursue creative things, mostly photography, full time.  And pepper this time with short tiny consulting opportunities here and there to make sure I could maintain things until things could take off.  These tiny little projects sometimes took me to cool places, or they let me do things wherever I wanted. Or they were the coolest little opportunities to get some concrete experience doing communications work.

But then I got offered a desk job.  That’s right, a full time desk job that would bring me back to my pre-retirement life.  And I couldn’t say no.  There were toys that I needed to buy, a Cait I needed to go visit in April.  And savings! I’m not necessarily a high maintenance kind of girl, but I apparently like expensive toys and far flung places (like LA, right?).

Nonetheless, I had to come to terms with returning to an industry I had made the decision to leave.  It’s not like I haven’t had these feelings before. Was it the end of the world? No. It’s an opportunity.  I’m coming to this new job a couple of years wiser.  I’ve shifted passions, but I can still be good at what I do at work.  Except with a little more distance this time.  And it’s not like I’m selling my soul here.  I am not throwing in the towel here.

I love this quote from Amanda Kohr and her profile on She Explores.

Words by Amanda Kohr, via She Explores.

Words by Amanda Kohr, via She Explores.

And I am epically inspired by this new theme song to my life.  For at least this contract.

I’m looking forward to going full throttle with the clients I can still make time for (weekends and evenings!), going bigger and bolder with projects, and all the toys! So many toys.  And the places!  I like barriers because they’ve always pushed me harder.

So I have to spend eight hours a day in something that doesn’t necessarily feed my soul, but lets me do more things that will help feed my soul instead. And eventually that golden needle of a YES will show up. I’m so excited.  (Except for the fact that I lost my beloved afternoon nap).


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C/ Warrior Won

warrior

Morning from sunny LA. It’s been quite the month, and I am not sorry to see November go. Watching my home country vote in the human equivalent of predatory, racist Cheeto dust was a real kick in the face, and I have since spent my time figuring out what exactly to do with the frustration, the anger, and the disappointment. The few days following, I threw money at the problem and donated to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and a few other good organizations who are doing something when I don’t know how to.

I am encouraged though, after seeing badass ladies and dudes refuse to give up. One of those badass ladies happens to be in my family. My sister-in-law, Eun Jung, is finishing up her yoga teaching training and decided to do something a little bit different, and bigger that yoga alone. She was compelled to bring her love of yoga and the yoga community into an effort to raise money for organizations that will be busy taking care of people over the years to come. This month, she starts organizing donation-based yoga classes wherever she can. This is all based in Chicago right now, but I know there are a number of yoga teachers/wellness peeps who read this blog, who could help spread this idea. She is working alongside other yoga instructors to create dynamic, meaningful classes, in order to raise much-needed money for these guys:

International Refugee Assistance Project (refugeerights.org)
Together Rising (togetherrising.org)
ACLU (ACLU.org)
Campaign Zero
Lambda Legal
RAINN
Sierra Club  (vault.sierraclub.org/ways-to-give)
Propublica (propublica.org)
National Women’s Law Center – (https://nwlc.org/about/)
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund – (dredf.org/support-our-work/)
Center for Reproductive Rights – (www.reproductiverights.org/about-us)

The math goes something like this – 20 students per class at $20=$20k throughout a year to donate to amazing organizations. For more on this, check out warriorwonchicago.com

Here’s how you can help:

1. Join the FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/191813684609600/?fref=nf
2. Follow on Instagram: warriorwonchicago
3. Volunteer studio time
4. Volunteer to teach
5. Show up for events
6. Volunteer to reach out to studios and teachers.

Dudes, this is a long road. Let’s Namastay involved.

Puns for Peace.

caitsig


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C / together and stuff

Transitions are hilarious, easy, and always lots of fun without any confusion whatsoever. Or the opposite. Uprooting is a mess, and resettling is sort of like trying to make a house out of legos and rapidly melting ice cream. It’s a weird time, so I am calling in reinforcements, and tapping into some experts on how to keep my brain and body from exploding into a million pieces.

On Tuesday night, I attended Together, a traveling speaker series with Glennon Doyle Melton at the helm. You may know her blog, Momastery, or her book, Love Warrior. Her story is one of recovery and acceptance, with a huge amount of humor. She is monumentally brave with herself, highlights her vulnerability, and is above all, honest. She, along with host Jennifer Rudolf Walsh, have pulled together women from all walks of life, with incredible stories of bravery, love, and strength.

Right, so it’s a self-help-type thing, and my snarky, stubborn guts feels weird about things like this. They even gave you a little booklet where you write down your manifesto and strengths and dreams and a bunch of other things that are really hard to figure out in the allotted 45 seconds. My self-loving brain and my shit-talking brain had a long conversation about whether or not this is total garbage, and the self-loving side actually won.

Strangely enough, I like doing things that make me feel better about the hard parts of life, and I think it’s really valuable to listen to remarkable women talk about real, honest, vulnerable stuff. I get that this might sound like I’m elbow-deep in inspiring Pinterest quotes with stock photo sunsets in the background, but that’s fine.

So because I didn’t record the whole thing on my phone that really needs to be upgraded, below, are internet-provided clips of the ladies on stage. Honestly, these clips don’t do the  speakers justice, but you get the idea.

Glennon Doyle Melton

“We can do hard things.”

Dr Jaqui Lewis

“Friends, we need to vote like our lives depend on it, like our love depends on it.”

Seane Corn

“You only ever teach what it is you need to learn, quite frankly.”

Valarie Kaur

“We can tell our own stories, author our own articles, make our own films, launch new campaigns, influence government and the media, and organize through technology and innovation. We have the tools to make love public in ways we haven’t seen before.”

Gina Rodriguez

“You are enough today, and the second you accept yourself is the second everybody else around you does as well.”

caitsig

 

 


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C / dream weaver

Maybe it’s the slightly cool air, the thought of October in America, or the fact that you buy buy “pumpkin spice” ANYTHING, but I am feeling cozy right now. I’m in DC for about 20 minutes and heading back to Tucson, and am all curled up in a sweater at the airport.

For those of you who do not live in tropical climates, this is probably uninteresting, and at best, borderline boring. That’s fine, you’re excused. For the Cambodia/Myanmar/Thailand kids, OHMYGODYOUGUYSSSSSSS. Yesterday, it was straight up crisp after dinner, and I had to pull my sweater sleeves over my hands. Most other people were dressed in t-shirts and shorts, but they all probably died of hypothermia last night.

Anyway. I got into thinking about wooly, cozy, sweater-y things last night and decided that I need to learn how to weave. I have never weaved, unless you count friendship bracelets in Girls Scouts and the sweet hemp necklaces that me and my freshman year roomie made in 2001. (HI THEA!) My aunt is an incredible weaver and I had the priviledge of drooling over her loom when I was in Cape Cod a few days ago.* Her stuff is gorgeous and she does it to relax. I will do it, almost certainly, to become frustrated, threaten to quit, pout, and probably hurt myself, but I’m excited . I looked up weaving classes in Los Angeles, and lo and behold, the universe provides. Next Thursday night, Makers Mess is hosting a Weaving for Beginners class with Kellee, and I already have a world of faith in her. Two “L’s” and two “E’s”? I trust her.

Until then, I will be filling my life with photos of things I want to wrap myself in. Like this.

 

Have a cozy night.

caitsig

*I love everything about this sentence.


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C / five year plan gone to hell

the-walk

Photo by me, yesterday.

I did a five year plan, about five years ago. It turns out, I was wrong on almost every front.

Last week, I went through some stuff I had in storage with family friends in New Jersey. I found a book that my mom gave me when I graduated from NYU, titled Where will you be fiver years from today? I think it may have been a hint, along the lines of “kid, get your shit together.” My mom would never say that though, because she’s nice to me. It’s sort of an adult activity book and it poses life questions, with space to write your answers. It’s cute, a little cheesy, and walks your through what you might want out of your life with a range of mis-matched fonts.

In the section where you map out the things you want to accomplish, I was monumentally off base. Like so, so wrong. Let’s go through a few things I was right about first, because it’s a short list.

  1. Go to NY Fashion Week. I have been in town for NYFW, and I do fashion stuff, so I am counting it.
  2. Be rude back. Oh haiii, sassy Cait. Check.
  3. Live abroad. Double check.
  4. Write letters to gram and grampa. So grateful I did this one.

That’s pretty much it.

Now the things I was wrong about. At this point, I am freshly graduated, super optimistic about the world, and a truly hopeless romantic. Don’t you judge me.

  1. Speak Portuguese. I don’t even know why I wanted to do this.
  2. Get a photograph published in National Geographic. Um, no.
  3. Go to Greece. Not yet, still want to.
  4. Sky dive. I used to love jumping out of/off things.
  5. Marry that guy. Barf.
  6. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Nope.
  7. Start a nutrition-education program from the Hawaii school system involving cooking, gardening and exercise. SO specific. I think I really wanted to move to Hawaii.
  8. Dance with a company and perform on stage. Not unless “company” meant “by yourself in your undies” and “on stage” meant “in the living room.”
  9. Run 5 miles straight. I’m worried about the word use on this one…is that in a straight line? As a straight person? Without stopping? No to all, I guess.
  10. Have a baby and raise her in a place close to my niece and nephew. Cannot. And why did I assume that said baby would be a girl? Was I counting on technological advances?
  11. Have a “deli day.” I am not totally sure what this was, but if it was a day eating at only deli’s in New York than I am proud of my former self for this idea.
  12. Read the New York Times every Sunday. Oh you cliché monster.
  13. Get rid of self-doubt. Well, I just doubt different things now. Maybe half-credit on this one?
  14. Move to Fort Greene in Brooklyn and eat at Tom’s Diner once a week. There is no Fort Greene in Cambodia. And no Tom’s.
  15. Learn to surf. I think I had a lot of conflicting Brooklyn and Hawaii plans.

And possibly my favorite line from the book, and 28-year-old me:

 “I want to be as healthy as possible within the boundaries of cheese.”

Honestly, This little book was painful to read. I had a lot of very specific dreams that didn’t work out and that makes me feel a little sad. I want to hug 5 years ago Cait, tell her to stop drinking so much Jameson, and let her know that she will be fine, but she’s just super wrong about a lot of things. I would also like to tell her to work on her handwriting because that business is a mess.

The cool news is that you can be wrong, about almost every major thing in life, and still be fine. I might do another five year plan now, just so I can look back on myself and laugh in another five.

caitsig