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 / I’m a Wombat

wombat

Guys, this is really exciting. I am in New York right now and I have amazing news…I am a wombat! Isn’t that great? Let me explain.

I met up with my cousin yesterday, one of my favorite people in the world, and he told me about Primal Zodiac signs. (If you think astrology stuff is garbage, stop reading. I don’t know if it is or not, and I don’t even know if it’s my business, but I think it’s interesting.) Your Primal Zodiac is a combination of Western Zodiac and Eastern Zodiac signs, so in my case, I am Taurus, and I was born in the Year of the Boar.

In Primal Zodiac math, that makes me a WOMBAT. I love wombats.

Now, I am not going to make you read my wombat zodiac, but I definitely thought about it. According to the internet, which never lies, I am

  • Strong, determined, sensitive, and stubborn. (check)
  • Can be a reclusive weirdo until the wombat feels comfortable with her people.
  • Once the wombat is comfortable, wombat will not stop talking. To everyone.
  • Smarter, stronger, and more agile that people think
  • Also, and this is a direct quote “This sign can be painfully over-indulgent and procrastinating to the point that others wonder how it is they get by day to day.” (um, check)
  • When the wombat does stop watching Netflix, the wombat cannot be stopped.
  • Wombats like cosy, familiar places, and like nice things (check)
  • Wombats like wine, and “they do like to indulge in worldly pleasures a bit too much.” (This is kind of a judgy website, jeez.)
  • Hosting parties is their wombat jam, and they don’t really like the club. Wombats don’t like crowds.

I won’t go into the love stuff too much but a few important things:

  • Wombats are great friends, love giving advice and like small groups
  • Wombats are cautious, but when they commit, they commit.
  • SUPER SNUGGLY
  • Should trust be betrayed “expect to see the rare but legendary rage from this quiet but powerful sign.” Wombat Khaleesi up in here.

 

Lastly, career things, which I really like reading about right now.

  • Even though they can be shy, wombats put on a good show, and love storytelling
  • Wombats love creative self-expression and the arts (check)
  • Wombats are LAZY (check) and need inspiration and drive of they will just eat ice cream off their bellies all day and watch Brooklyn 99 in their underwear (I’m paraphrasing.)

 

I know how silly it is that I just wrote out my zodiac stuff on this blog, I know that. But I have never read anything that sounded more like my best friend describing me. I am making Tiff do this too, and I want you guys to look and see if your description works for you, too. Do it here, click. Do it, and tell me what you think.

Your favorite wombat.

caitsig


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C/ Big Business

big business.jpg

This post is late, and it’s not even my day, but here I am, two cocktails in with three hours of sleep in not-my-apartment in New York, typing away. What could go wrong?

Honestly nothing, stop reading if you think I am going to tipsy-manifesto all over this blog, I do that in text messages, like I normal person. I am here to talk about one of the most important things in life, Bette Midler. Yeah, Bette Midler.

I watched Big Business over the weekend, and am deeply ashamed that it was my first viewing. However, I was thrilled that I got to watch it with the badass ladies of Boxcar Muse, and eat pizza off of my tummy while yelling “werk” at the screen. This movie is amazing, and 1988 was a SOLID year for fashion. I am a little disappointed my 5 year old self didn’t get more matchy suit skirt things. The thing that struck me the most, was how awesome it was to watch Lily Tomlin and Bette of my Dreams play two characters each, be hilarious and smart and diverse in all of them, and that the movie had nothing to do with  romantic relationship. Yes, there are love interests, but they are honestly in the movie as side pieces.

Watch this movie, and then write me and tell me what your favorite hat of Bette’s is, because I CAN’T DECIDE WHAT MY FAVORITE IS.

caitsig


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T / departures (other people’s)

Artwork Credit: J. Emslie

Yay we’re back!  Life is pathetic fallacy right now.  Because in addition to the monsoon come the summer time goodbyes in this city and all the related feels.  The last of which happened to me last week.  Which is probably why I got zapped of all inspiration for a little bit.  So I had to write this small meditation to get it over with.  Obviously. 


This life is goodbyes.  Or as I would prefer to refer to them, “see you soons.”  Over the past few weeks, I’ve said these words to not just one but three sets of friends.  Important friends.  The kind of friends that are like the super comfortable favourite pillows on your bed.  Sorry, was that a creepy way of describing friendship?

At the same time, I’m still on the heels of coming back from California, where I saw more than a few sets of friends that I allegedly said goodbye to over the past few years.   And guess what?  It was like we were picking up from where we left off.  Except maybe we had some more money this time around (yeeeah 30s).  I should also mention that I’m not the best at keeping in touch.  Years of poor connectivity and dropped Skype calls have more or less killed my enthusiasm for overseas phone calls.  However, I am amenable to a long form email.  And I hear that the Internet of things works a heck of ton better now.

The other fun thing about this nomadic community we’re a part of is the awkward friendship starter.  I love Kate’s words on the topic.  Because isn’t that what summer is all about?  All these new people landing?  And everyone else you sort of know, have seen around, would like to get to know better?  Looking back on some of my closest friendships I’ve made since leaving Canada, they’ve always been in the most inopportune of places.  Being drenched in a monsoon in an outdoor group work out.  In a deep dark club because we’re both Asian and should be friends.  The infamous roll of Hello Kitty duct tape and the ensuing noodles!  And sweating together.  Always sweating together.  There’s nothing more bonding than that.

And the goodbyes won’t stop.  Ever.  I’m already preparing the the spate of them that will happen in 2018.  And I’ll depart this gorgeous piece of land at some point too.  So I was trying to find something to capture that. But let’s face it, everything would be drag.  So let’s watch these pretty pictures instead.  Because it’s not goodbye.  It just means the next time I see you, it’ll be a different way of coffee (which will probably cost way more than $2.50), bread instead of noodles, and taxis instead of tuk tuks.  Let’s celebrate that.

Paris – NewYork from MRfrukta on Vimeo.


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T / a little bit of freedom…sort of

Can you tell I have an icon?

I keep saying I’m funemployed.  But I’m really not.  There are clients.  There are deliverables.  There are thousands of photos.  But I just get to decide when I work, and how I work.  That morning post-workout coffee is no longer limited to 15 minutes!

Since leaving my not-so-fulfilling full time in-an-office consulting gig last week, I’ve been feeling like Will Ferrell encountering New York City for the first time in Elf.  Except that I can work my way around Photoshop. I’ve been feeling more responsive.  I’m feeling so much lighter (because sitting is the new smoking).  And I am back to my slightly frantic self (see Muppets: Animal).  Cue George Michael, RIP.

But also like there’s a fire under my ass again.  Because for the past 6 months, I’ve more or less been plotting, Dr. Evil style, of my return to the freelance environment.  There are websites that need to get updated.  Portfolios that need to be shared.  The hustle is real and it is so back.  I have plans that need to get manifested.  I even just drafted something called the Berlin Strategy (doesn’t that sound like a sequel to Homeland?).

Except I might choose to catch up on 12 episodes of Supergirl instead while editing photos I took 2 years ago.

I first came across creative accountability in one of Katie’s posts.   And she’s totally right.  We have our clients that keep our work accountable, but as creative entrepreneurs, who keeps us moving forward?  I’m not exactly a start up with a venture capitalist that wants to see returns.  Nor am I actually in school and have classmates to commiserate with.  And a career coach isn’t exactly in the budget. I needed someone else, in Phnom Penh, who was on the hustle, with clients and personal goals and learning to pursue too.  And all I had to do was ask her out!  We meet for regular coffees, look at each other’s work, bounce ideas off of each other and see how each other are doing on that road upwards.  Doodles may be involved.

This all helps to keep that fire under my ass lit, under control, with enough heat to keep me on my toes.  But I also have some time for myself, to feel bored and find ways to get out of it, and to fail, or figure out a whole new set of things I can do (I see you, coding).  The doors are wide open now and I get to pick which one I go through.  Come on baby, light my fire*.

*Oooh cheesey, but I like it.


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C / boundaries

pink

I struggle setting boundaries. I think it’s attached to being a pleaser, I have a terrible time thinking that I am letting people down or disappointing them in any way, and it hasn’t done me any favors.

I saw this Brené Brown video last week, and it stuck with me. There is a part in it where she explains how some people don’t set any boundaries, get taken advantage of, feel violated, don’t do anything about it, and then become angry and resentful. While watching this, I was unconsciously shaking my head “yes.” I feel like that might be a problem.

I am currently taking classes in self-compassion meditation. I pay a wonderful woman named Heather to help me be less of an asshole to myself, and boundaries come up in class a lot. Brené can clearly tell you why they are so important better than I can, and it’s worth the 5:54 minutes.

Will this ever be a fashion blog again? Who knows. Happy Friday.

caitsig


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T / happy monday / visual meditations

Photo Credit: Rich Stapleton for Cereal x Gap

If you asked 22 year old Tiff about meditation and mindfulness, she probably would have stared at you and said “I don’t exactly have time for that.”  In the background, her mother would have said “Tiffany’s been high strung since she was 2.”  This was a fact until this Tiff sailed past thirty.  End of third person monologue.

As a freelancer, I’ve been starting and stopping for the past six years.  When I was younger and nearing the end of a project, my heart would race a little.  Panic and some sort of crisis would set in.  Especially if there was no project on the horizon.  These days, I’ve learned that there is always a project on a horizon, even if I can’t see it.  Sometimes it’s there whether I want it or not.  Or most recently, the thing I needed but didn’t really want.  And in the best times it turns out to be the thing I needed and wasn’t necessarily looking for.

What on earth does career anxiety have to do with meditation?  Basically, I’ve come to terms with uncertainty.  There is no doubt about the help I’ve gotten from my 10 minutes of daily calm.

But sometimes I get my calm from looking at something.  Actually that happens quite a bit.  Which brings me to these little videos from my favourite minimalist biannual mag, Cereal.  They’re so simplistically photographed.  And while the soundtrack isn’t quite “fire crackling in the wind” or “babbling crook,”  the beat is entirely calming.  I could just stare at these and feel my amygdala get smaller. Happy Monday.

Y U K O N from Cereal on Vimeo.


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T / on quiet time

Photo Credit: Alexandra Roberts for She Explores.

Today I did something unprecedented.  I went quiet.  For only ten minutes.  And it was exactly what I needed.  Professionally-diagnosed adult ADHD notwithstanding, I also suffer from millennial noise, side hustle fatigue and chronic sprinting.  The internal chatter is nuts.  And the fatigue is all too real.  So spurned on by Cait’s amazing words on meditation and equanimity, I did it.  I meditated.  I should also mention that I’m the least likely to do this.  Ask my mom.  Calm, cool, collected child I was not.  Even in my moments of rest, there’s a podcast on.  There’s always something.

I am an extrovert with introvert tendencies that I’m not always aware of.  I said yes to too many things in the past month and tried to find quiet time while still doing things.  My favourite is cooking dinner.  But my mind is still running then.  The wonderful ladies from My Favourite Murder are providing me entertainment.  I am simultaneously chopping, cooking and cleaning.  I always have a TV show on while I’m editing photos.  I tell myself I totally have a relaxing pre-sleep routine of silence and reading.  But that’s completely untrue because I’m on Instagram, reading the news and trying to plan a trip.  At the same time.  My brain generally looks like this:

Yup. My brain is your desktop with too many windows open.

It’s probably why I feel exhausted.

And that’s when I was confronted with the best idea ever: extreme quiet.  It means you’re going beyond the noise.  Restoring all the systems and getting your energy back.  And there’s no expensive retreat involved.  It’s like that cabin in the north I’ve always wanted to own. Ever since I started this desk job, I found myself without my beloved nap.  Geez Louise do I miss my nap.  But the moment, I turned on Calm.com, got my breathing under control (I sometimes forget to breathe, which is a recent revelation), and obeyed that Zen of a voice telling me to tune out, I got there.  I felt like I was asleep at my desk without pulling a George Costanza (been there, done that).  It’s a weird feeling.  You’re literally going dark for a little bit.  It felt amazing.  Like I said, I don’t regularly meditate.  Savasana and I are like me and green smoothies.  But I can see myself doing this every day.

Even if you’re not a desk monkey, I recommend it.  I can’t change how I am living at the moment.  But I can at least make it better.  Calm.com even has a series on anxiety, which I cannot wait to dive into.  And in between I can go back to back to all the things, until they get too much.  And then rinse, repeat.  Try it sometime.

 

 


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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