And so it Begins.

13 May

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I had the intention to start again a million times but alas life happened and time got away from me. Now here I sit, 9 months pregnant and on the precipice of the biggest event of my life and I finally have time. How hysterical is that? Such is life right?

Anyway, where did we stop, where do we start again? The premise will stay the same, fashion, life, art, music, food, beauty, design; essentially anything and hopefully as much as possible. For this post though, I am going personal, so proverbially strap in.

I am not re-inventing the wheel chatting about pregnancy; there are a million mommy blogs that do such an amazing job at preparing, teaching, explaining and offering much-needed advice, so I won’t step in that arena. I will speak plainly at the highs and lows of our experience and hope if you’re one of the many who are contemplating, trying, succeeding, failing or landing somewhere in between this will speak to you.

Rewind the clock to last April when Ralph and I found ourselves pregnant for the “first time.” It was an overwhelming experience that unfortunately was short-lived. I can remember the moment of going into the first ultrasound only to discover there was no fetal pole development which meant blighted ovum, which meant miscarriage. An intense feeling came over me and my only mission at that point was to focus on not crying in front of the Dr. I am not sure why, for those that know me it may come as a shock, but I kept it together. In thinking about it afterward, it was the one thing I could control and it became my mission. Going through the process of our miscarriage was extremely humbling for me. This wasn’t merit based, it wasn’t something you could buy, talk your way in or out of, dazzle or charm into working; it was science and simply put, it failed. We were officially a statistic and that for lack of a better word, sucked.

I felt shame, failure and embarrassment. It was hard to relate to others when I kept fixating on why me? why us? It’s funny because no one talks about it. When I felt comfortable enough to share it with a few people I was amazed to learn just how many had similar experiences and I found solace in knowing we weren’t alone. In truth, I think when it comes to this subject, we could all use a dose of open book syndrome. Yes its intensely personal but strength lies in numbers and having a community to work through the dark times, makes the reality a little bit easier to get comfortable with. (ok, I will speak for myself)

After feeling sorry for myself for a couple of weeks or so and after much-needed tough love from two of my best friends; I made the decision to control what I could and launched into a “my body is a wonderland” state of mind. (thanks John) I laugh sometimes when I explain my story to people because I feel like I cheated. I did everything in my power to create a pristine environment for our hopeful baby to flourish in. Here was my routine:

  1. I gave up coffee. Straight – cold turkey and started (begrudgingly) drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, which was said to be used in folk remedies as an elixir used to strengthen the uterus. (who knew?)
  2. I began getting weekly acupuncture from an amazing Dr. who specializes in Women’s reproductive health.
  3. Ralph and I began juicing every morning. Spinach, Kale, Celery, Cucumbers, Ginger root and Green Apples.
  4. Ralph and I both took Fertilica Ultra Greens powder in a glass of water each morning.
  5. I took Fertile Garden herb supplements given to me by my acupuncturist.
  6. Ralph and I both committed to 3 days a week of intense Bikram yoga and at least one other day of cardio at our gym.
  7. I drank wine, enjoyed evenings out, tried to be carefree and live in the moment and not obsess. This proved to be the toughest challenge of all of them.

They say in Chinese medicine it takes three months after an “event or tragedy” to be back to normal again. We had our procedure last June 9th and three months later we were pregnant again. It felt different this time. I told Ralph when I first found out, (at 4 weeks) that this was our baby, I could feel it. The first trimester went by so slowly, each day felt like a year. I was so panicked something was wrong and I’m embarrassed to admit the lengths I went to, to assure myself things were ok. If hackers checked my google history, I might run away and not come back. It was beyond, even for me. Again the concept of control, deep-rooted inside of me, kept rearing its head and I did my best to chill out and enjoy the process. Self Grade D+.

Then I hit 12 weeks, 3 months and a light appeared. I outwitted, outlasted and outplayed myself and for the first time confidence appeared. Since then, each milestone has been marked with a mixture of trepidation, excitement, panic, wonderment and gratitude. Being pregnant is a very “present” experience; it’s a waiting game with emotions, hormones, body changes and relinquishment of self and ego. It’s scary and amazing all rolled into one. Ralph and I don’t know what to expect, we just know, we don’t know and to be ok with the expectation that anything can happen and most likely will. It is what you make it.

If you’re reading this and are having difficulty, please steal some of the ideas listed above. We’ll never know for sure but at the end of the day, I knew I was doing everything in my power to help my chances. My lucky number is 9, it has been since I was in grade school and it was my friend Josh’s soccer number. Ironically he introduced Ralph and I and even more strange, our new baby girl is due this June 9th. What a difference a year makes.

Luella says… Without wine – Design.

Stella Vivienne’s Nursery

I am not nor have I ever been a major baby person. When it came time to register, I was completely overwhelmed. (yes, tears were shed more than once) If you would like a copy of my must own lists just let me know. Another great resource is this list from Joy of Oh Joy & Oh Baby.

If you’re pregnant or just had a baby, I would love to connect with you. As I said, everything is better in numbers.

Design Credits:

Crib by Wayfair . Mattress by Serta . Paint Colors: Mustard – Solar Fusion by BEHR  Gray – Cathedral Gray by BEHR  Cream – Splendor by BEHR

Photos over crib: 3 Fashion sketches reprints by Sandra Suy . Floral by Amber Alexander . 9 – DIY . French Chic – reprint from Harper’s Bazaar Russia March 2010

Kraft paper flowers, Tissue paper flowers & Cardstock paper fans – DIY

Curio bookcase – Craigslist DIY . Changing dresser – thrifted DIY

Tissue garland by Everly Lane Design . Pear print by Fine Little Day Shop of Sweden . Vintage baby dress by Kasi Found This . Dried Craspedia flowers by Maison de la Croix

Swan & Floral prints by Leah Duncan . Vintage Great Gatsby cover – reprint . Velveteen Rabbit end papers 1922 – reprint

Vintage daybed – Craigslist DIY . STELLA vintage marquee letters by Junkie Trunk

Vintage nightstand – in the family DIY . Vintage mirror – thrifted DIY . Ginger jar lamp & shade from ccaappp

Chandelier – DIY . Rug by Wayfair . Vintage rocking chair – in the family DIY

Invictus print by Eva Juliet . Stella is an actual photo taken of a storefront on a street in Warsaw, Poland by Mio . Moon & Back – reprint.

Eiffel Tower & Chapel birdcage – thrifted DIY . Vintage dresser – in the family DIY.

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The Art of Deco

20 Jan

To me, Art Deco is like a fantastic wine; it is the perfect blend of fashion with architecture and design and encompasses all of my visual art passions.

According to Wikipedia, Led by the best designers in the decorative arts such as fashion, and interior design, Art Deco affected all areas of design throughout the 1920s and 1930s, including architecture and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as painting, the graphic arts and film. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, glamorous, functional and modern.It  could also be described as a movement of sorts. A rebelling from designing with political or philosophical roots. It was simply about design. Nothing more, nothing less.

It was the soul of the 1920’s and 30’s and  served as the foundation for design movements that emerged throughout the past 80 years. The “art deco aesthetic” is primarily found in fashion, architecture, art and typography but its influences can still be found in modern design.

Luella says…That building matches my dress.


What era of design do you love?

Through the Lens. Sølve Sundsbø

13 Jan

I love Scandinavia. As you know, my family comes from Sweden and I worked for a Danish company for 8 years and so I have been immersed to say the least.

Now for a little bit of Norway.  Sølve Sundsbø was born in 1970 and garnered an interest in photography in his early twenties by enrolling in the London College of Printing. Once there he answered an ad for Nick Knight who was looking for an assistant and alas his career began.

According to Ykone online, “He concentrates on volume, lines and graphics and alters his images with superimpositions, use of filters and transparency, creating truly remarkable pictures.”

“If I’ve got a style,” says Sundsbo, “it’s that I’ve got no style.”

I personally love the visual spectrum he lives in. While many photographers work in a streamlined aesthetic he embraces the varied sources of light, textures and manipulations. He vividly captures light and emotion.

Luella says…And the Series Continues.

(all photos SOURCED at artandcommerce.com)

To be able to see the world through the scope of a photographic lens must be very powerful. What you see is not always what you got. The artistry is making people believe there is not a difference.

Where There is Darkness, There is Light.

11 Jan

Have you ever wanted to stop time and literally spend an entire day in just one moment? Soaking it in, reveling and trying to imprint the details in your life memory bank forever? I have and its been happening a lot lately.

I equate it to getting older, being more aware of mortality, aging, being in love, experiencing loss and learning hard truths and realizing how quickly things can change.I have never been good with change but always seem to be in a constant state of it. Life just simply goes by too fast. There is no formula, surgery, potion or elixir that can change that.

As Chris Pureka says, Time is the Anchor, Change is a Constant.I had an entirely different post planned about fashion and my beloved Green Bay Packers but that will need to wait a day. I awoke this morning to the news that a close friend’s mother and a singer songwriter we love and follow are both facing one of life’s hardest realities; cancer.

I was struck with their honesty and perspective so much so that I felt compelled to share it with you. Here they are, two different people, two different versions their paths anonymously connected by unfortunate news and the courage to carry on.

As we all know, Cancer doesn’t care. It sees no color, gender, age, race or sexual orientation. It is undiscriminating, taxing and incredibly selfish. It is a real life monster under the bed HOWEVER, in the grandest sense possible, there is always hope. Hope breeds positivity and lightness and I think reaches far deeper than any treatment or remedy.The power of positive thinking, love and tenacity goes a long way. As my friend Heather eloquently said 4 years ago when she received her diagnosis, “I am going to kick cancer’s ass, it has messed with the wrong girl.” As we speak, she is pregnant and healthy.I consider this news a reminder of what is important. A re-balancing of my life’s priorities and focus. A necessary nudge to reach out, educate myself and be a lending ear and shoulder for those in my life who might need some extra support.

Read the brave words and perspectives of the affected who have now become warriors in their fight back to healthy.

Luella says…C Stands for Change and Courage.

Our close friend Sandra said,

“My family is about to embark on a challenging journey. It will be up to each person to transform the situation into an opportunity for faith, hope, and happiness. My mom’s cancer is back. It’s in her liver and lungs. Wanted to share this early before it became too overwhelming to share.”

Doris Muramatsu of GIRLY MAN writes,

“One image that keeps circling my mind is of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s an 823 ft hill in the middle of the city, climbable from almost any direction. The views up top are breathtaking, you feel otherworldly and closer to God. It was climbing this hill back in October 2010 when I knew something in me had shifted. I was no longer a healthy person. Perhaps it was the moment when my chromosomes decided to mutate; I’d like to think they’d pick a transcendent experience such as this hike to do so rather than during one of my more earthly chores such as brushing my teeth.  Of course, I don’t even think I was conscious of this shift. All I knew was that my legs felt like cement blocks and my breath huffed double time with every step I took. I had to stop every 2 minutes or so to regain my breath and couldn’t understand why or how so many people could just amble up the hill with such ease. But the sun, making a rare appearance, shone down on JJ and me, and the highland grass shimmered. Something was beckoning me to keep moving forward because to stop would admit defeat. Sure, my legs and ankles swelled daily for seemingly no reason, and sure I was dangerously short of breath. But I couldn’t admit defeat yet.

I finally made it to the top and rejoiced. I felt proud of myself and thoughts of being sick were set aside for one more day. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I were really sick. In retrospect, I can hardly believe that I returned from the UK and immediately played shows in Atlanta and Birmingham, then the next weekend in North Carolina and South Carolina. Then I somehow managed to do a grueling 2 and half week tour in the Northeast, playing a show almost every night and teaching a harmony workshop. And every day I was zonked out in the van, barely able to lift my head, barely able to eat. I’d garner my strength for the show and give my all during those 90 minutes, (though I coughed through a good portion of it) but I felt scarily disconnected from my body. My midriff looked foreign to me, like I was in one of those books where you can flip the top, middle, and bottom portions and create the policeman wearing a pink tutu with ostrich feet. I was the Asian girl with E.T.’s belly wearing tights and cool Fluevogs. I stopped looking at myself in the mirror.

It made me think about what I would want to hear if I were about to make my transition: (for my own sanity, I like to think of death as a gateway into more life, just in a different form) the good memories, fun times, the love and laughter. Because doesn’t it all boil down to the love we share, what we give to each other and what we take in, and being able to see each other through the eyes of Source? (or God if you want to call it that?) That’s the one big thing that I realized the day I was going to receive my diagnosis in that hospital in Jersey. I was freaking out, shaking violently underneath that swath of hospital gown. And underlying that fear was the profound certainty that I wasn’t done with my life–I still wanted more. I realized that music was my absolute calling and how lucky I was to have found Ty, Nate, and JJ. How lucky we were to be able to create together. As I focused on each of them, and then on my parents and my other dearest friends, tears of joy streamed down my face. In that moment, I basically experienced the opposite of fear: love. It instantly lifted me to the grandest, most comforting space I have ever been simply because I was allowing myself to bask in its eternal truth. I was one with the Universe. (I hope I don’t sound crazy!) My mood completely transformed, and I think I even glowed because I was vibrating on such a high level.

Five people in white coats came in just then to give me my diagnosis. (It was the oncologist, the resident, and 3 medical students–I was quite the teaching example.) I shone in a state of grace and acceptance. I was ready.”

Just click here to follow her story on her blog.

Nothing else to say really. Be aware of life’s highs and lows, either way keep learning from your experiences.

Be a work in progress.

What’s Up Doc?

4 Jan

I am getting back to reality after a two-week holiday stint spent relaxing with my husband, watching movies, eating and drinking with friends and sleeping longer than usual.

I am sure you all indulged in your own version of that as well. To that, I say cheers and well done!Well good morning 2011, now it is time to get back into the swing of things and start anew. Whatever that means, right?

I realize I have been straying away from fashion posts but I go with what I feel and lately I have been digging a bit deeper and looking outside of the “what to wear” scope. (Hope you don’t mind) I promise there is more fashion on the horizon.Anyway, as with most things in my life, I lean toward the uncontrived and what is more organic and real than documentaries? They evoke real emotions and shed light on people, places and events that otherwise would remain unknown.

I consider myself a connoisseur of the arts in general, (if you haven’t already picked up on that) and think these should land in your “What to Watch” queue for the cold and sometimes listless month of January.

Luella says…Document Everything.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

“This is the inside story of Street Art – a brutal and revealing account of what happens when fame, money and vandalism collide. Exit Through the Gift Shop follows an eccentric shop-keeper turned amateur film-maker as he attempts to capture many of the world’s most infamous vandals on camera, only to have a British stencil artist named Banksy turn the camcorder back on its owner with wildly unexpected results.”


Surfwise

According to the NEW YORK TIMES, “There are many different ways to drop off the grid, but few dropped off with such style and urgency as Dorian Paskowitz, the paterfamilias of what is lovingly and at times enviably described as the first family of surfing. It was an intensity in part born of his passionately felt engagement with history as a Jew, which took him from Stanford Medical School in the 1940s to button-down respectability in the 1950s and, thereafter, on the road and into the blue yonder with a devoted wife, nine children, a succession of battered campers and the surfboards that were by turns the family’s cradles, playpens, lifelines and shields.”

 

Funky Monks

One reviewer writes, “this independent production in living black & white was shot of the Red Hot Chili Peppers as they became “Funky Monks” with producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin and retreated to a virtual monastery of an empty house in the hills above L.A. to record their greatest musical achievement ever, 1991’s “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”.

The personality of L.A. is every bit as much the star of this film as is the personalities of the Chili Peppers themselves. The feel of the town is everywhere, from the record offices where the executives explain the concept behind the recording taking place in the fashion it did to the locations where Anthony is interviewed regarding the lyrics of “Under The Bridge” to the wrap party that is held at the house once the recording has been completed…the soul of Los Angeles (such as it is) and the symbiotic association it has with the band are factors that set this filmed “making of” documentary a step above all the others; there is much more than four guys in a studio and a producer in a booth…it is an encapsulation of a city and its most identifiable band, frozen in time forever.”


Helvetica

Gary Huswit says, “Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which celebrated its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.”


So watch the above documentaries and let me know what you think. We found them profound in their own subjects.

There is also something very appealing to have the opportunity to see things for myself, a peek behind the curtain if you will. What would your life’s documentary be about?

Clean Your Slate.

31 Dec

So I write this blog feeling all over the place. For me, 2010 literally personified the beginning of Charles Dicken’s epic novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–“On one hand, I finally got to marry my dream man after 4 years of living with and loving him. Our wedding was a perfect party and I had the best time. I am a Willison now and I feel ready to start the new chapter in my life of family, babies and selflessness.On the other hand, I left my dream job of 8 years with a disappointed heart and fractured loyalty and spent the last couple of months searching for professional meaning. At 31, I felt average and as much as I told myself better things were to come, I couldn’t quite absorb and believe it.One doesn’t want to think their job defines them but when you find yourself idle you realize in some respects it did. Having had time to reflect on where I was, who I had become and what I had to offer was humbling and difficult.

Again like Dickens wrote though, it was necessary and inspiring. When a forest burns down to the ground, new life springs forth. Ideas, creativity, dedication, passion and growth are now ignited and re-aligned. Change is good even though change is hard.As the clock hits midnight, I will not only be starting a new year but also a new job and feel blessed to have the opportunity.

For those of you who may find yourself in a similar situation remember your “double rainbow” (sorry had to) is coming but you have to fight for it. Persistence is your final answer.

Luella says…New Year, New You.

Below are some inspiring words and songs for new beginnings that inspired me during my difficult moments.

There is no place to go but up. Keep on trying and always, always, always believe in yourself.

F***IN PERFECT by Pink

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.”– T.S. Eliot

RADIOACTIVE by Kings of Leon

Entrance

By Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Dana Gioia)

Whoever you are, step out of doors tonight,

out of the room that lets you feel secure.

Infinity is open to your sight. Whoever you are.

With eyes that have forgotten how to see from viewing things already too well-known,

lift up into the dark a huge, black tree and put it in the heavens: tall, alone.

And you have made the world and all you see. It ripens like the words still in your mouth.

And when at last you comprehend its truth, then close your eyes and gently set it free.

JAR OF HEARTS by Christina Perri

A New Start

by Bernard Shaw

I have wiped the slate clean,
No more reminders from the past.
Memories of what I have been,
Have vanished at long last.

I look forward to my future new,
Where all is territory strange.
Soon I will be among the few,
That plans their life at long range.

I see my life laid out at my feet,
New friends shall rally at my call.
They will be the first I will greet,
At this my welcoming ball.

Soon all memories will depart,
Of a past left well behind.
I will get off to a new start,
With the best of mankind.

Eminem I’M GOING THROUGH CHANGES


New Beginning

By Tracy Chapman

The whole world’s broke and it ain’t worth fixing
It’s time to start all over, make a new beginning
There’s too much pain, too much suffering
Let’s resolve to start all over make a new beginning

Now don’t get me wrong I love life and living
But when you wake up and look around at everything that’s going down
All wrong
You see we need to change it now, this world with too few happy endings
We can resolve to start all over make a new beginning

The world is broken into fragments and pieces
That once were joined together in a unified whole
But now too many stand alone There’s too much separation
We can resolve to come together in the new beginning

We can break the cycle – We can break the chain
We can start all over – In the new beginning
We can learn, we can teach
We can share the myths the dream the prayer
The notion that we can do better
Change our lives and paths
Create a new world

The whole world’s broke and it ain’t worth fixing
It’s time to start all over, make a new beginning
There’s too much fighting, too little understanding
It’s time to stop and start all over
Make a new beginning

We need to make new symbols
Make new signs
Make a new language
With these we’ll define the world

Teeth by Lady Gaga

I think this cover of The Climb is stunning. I realize my street cred meter just broke but the words are pertinent and when I was running and feeling ugh it made me want to keep going and prove the world wrong.

THE CLIMB by Kelly Clarkson with Jill and Kate (her backup singers).


This blog has been a huge salvation for me during my recent transition period. I loved every minute of creating blog posts and intend to keep on posting in the same manner as always.

After all and  in appropriate fashion, this is just the beginning of Luella says.

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Through the Lens – Paolo Roversi

28 Dec

One of the things I  love the most about my blog is the research I get to do each day in preparation for my content. I love being able to learn as I go and immerse myself in areas I never knew much about before. One of those areas is definitely photography.

As you know from earlier posts, I have loved editorials and fashion photo shoots ever since I was small. From the grandeur of the poses, to the artistry of the clothing, to the beauty of the landscape locations; they simply speak to me.After a bit of thought, I decided I needed to create an outlet and launched Luella’s Visual Industry on Tumblr. It is an archive of fashion photos, paintings and pictures I wish I had shot, created, styled or photographed myself.

In doing my research for Luella’s Visual Industry, I stumbled upon a group of photographers I think are a large step above the masses. I already detailed Steven Meisel and have a bunch on the horizon but today I present Paolo Roversi. Paolo Roversi is an Italian-born fashion photographer who currently lives and works in Paris. Born in Ravenna in 1947, Paolo Roversi’s interest in photography was kindled as a teenager during a family vacation to Spain in 1964. Paolo Roversi’s trademark 8 x 10” Polaroid format and very long exposures have a romantic and ethereal quality. His favourite lighting is window light or a Mag Flashlight to light his models.

According to A BLOG CURATED BY, “As a quiet force in photography for over 25 years, Paolo Roversi has firmly grounded his softly organic and profoundly intimate work within the more avantgarde circles of fashion. Over the years, Roversi has helped define the aesthetics of many key players who manage to sit just under the global commercial and celebrity radar, those intelligent labels from Romeo Gigli to Undercover and Yohji Yamamoto. Accompanying this inclination for the darker side of the industry, Roversi has held his fascination in the faces of muses such Stella Tennant and Kirsten Owen – protean beauties whose faces have stood the test of time.”

Luella says…Representing the Dark Side.

(All images sourced from PAOLOROVERSI.COM)

His photographs represent haunted hopefullness.

Where this is darkness, there is light.

Joyeux Nell.

24 Dec

You never know where life is going to take you and whom you are going to meet along the way.I stumbled upon a contest held by Sunglass Hut called Full Time Fabulous about a month ago. It is their quest to find a blogger for 2011 who will live in a furnished loft in Manhattan, get paid $100,000 and “be the eyes and ears of the Sunglass Hut Institution” to loosely steal a line from The Breakfast Club.For the entire month of December, the Top Ten Finalists have been dueling it out in a blog-off that will end December 31st. Wits, words and creativity are on full display and it has been interesting to be an observer.

So on to the rest of the story.

Luella says…Salt in the City.

Meet Nell Alk, one of the finalists from…wait for it…. GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN!

I was so happy to see someone from my beloved state of Wisconsin make the cut, that I reached out to her in support and have been following her Full Time Fabulous blog posts for the past month.

She has lived in New York for the past 4 years or so and is already a contributing editor and blogger for  NBCNEWYORK.com, PAPERMAG.com, OKMAGAZINE.com, FABRICMAG.com and OURSTAGE.com.

I find her writing to be fresh, clever and full of rich details. I don’t have to be at the events Nell describes and reports on because she creates the full picture through her story telling.

When describing the importance of New York City as the Fashion Capital of the World, Nell says,

“Manhattan speaks to the global community on behalf of fashion with the authority and authenticity of its people. It’s a recognizable and relatable tongue, a dialect everyone knows, from Monaco to Madrid, Minnesota to Malibu. New York City is the epicenter of fashion. A sanctuary of culture, New York is a haven for the “who knows,” the “what ifs” and the “this is its.” Its influence is as much about its exclusivity and elegance as it is about its ability to embrace the everyman. Or, in this instance, the everydesigner. The power this city and its spirited people wield is unmatched. They influence fellow New Yorkers; they influence fellow Americans; they influence the rest of the world. Manhattan has an unstoppable influence around the world because it represents and embodies the people of the whole wide world. The human condition defined and redefined. In an inspiring city that is both timeless and timely. Not to mention, all-accepting. The big apple can be yours. And yours. And yours.”

See what I mean?

She comes from my home state, so I will say with pride, “salt of the earth country,” has an affinity for fashion and lives and breathes the pulse of New York City.Sunglass Hut, what more do you really need?

In the spirit of the Christmas season, please check our her blog and share her story. The more support she garners the better her chances of winning the coveted position will be.

In layman’s terms, Re-tweet, Like, Comment and Share. Wisconsin-ites mount up.

http://nell.fulltimefabulous.com/

Go There.

22 Dec

I am not an artist. I just don’t have the talent. I wish I could look at a blank canvas and know exactly what to draw or where to go with my vision but such is not to be.

I was born a consultant of sorts. Meaning I can tell you what works and what doesn’t but I can’t create it myself. My skill set is much more in the performing arts spectrum rather than the artistry of paint, pencil and ink to canvas.I have always admired the art world though with its chic gallery shows and pedestrians lining up to be blown away by the abstracts, paintings and works of their favorite artists.

I used to think one had to possess a certain “eye” for understanding but as of late I realize it is what you make it. If you allow yourself to go there, things tend to take on a whole new meaning.Such was the case when I was doing research for a project and stumbled across the art works of Pierre Soulages.

He was born in 1919 and according to Claire Rosemberg of The Telegraph, is famously known for switching direction halfway through his career to emphasise how light is reflected from the colour black – a concept he calls “ultra black”, or outrenoir. Using thick layers of black paint, he scrapes and digs and etches using bits of rubber, spoons or tiny rakes to create smooth and rough textures that absorb or reject light, subtly changing monotonous black.He recently hosted his own gallery show, at Le Centre de Georges Pompidou in Paris in 2009 and at age 91, is still living and working in a flat in the South of France that overlooks the Mediterranean.(Pierre Soulage’s shadow painted by Klaus Guingand 2005)

When interviewed for his gallery show last year, Pierre said, “It is touching to see 63 years of my work brought together, but I don’t much like the word ‘retrospective’,” he added. “I am still painting, I have works drying in the studio.”

At 91, is that a testament to spending one’s life living out their dreams instead of waiting to pursue them? Perhaps.

Luella says…Dig a Little Deeper.

(all photos sourced from Pierre-Soulages.com)

I love his work. I would never have found him had I not been a bit idle.

Moral of this story, is to take a little more time out for yourself. Stop and absorb your surroundings, breathe, be present and notice the details.

Give that to yourself this Christmas.

Less is Enough.

20 Dec

My husband is a great sport when it comes to allowing me to decorate our home. As you probably know by now, I love Shabby-chic, Victorian era antiques that don’t scream masculinity. Anyway I have been trying to adopt a middle ground lately by getting rid of things we don’t need.

This is not an easy task because our house is trés petite and decor takes on the effect of clutter when it appears displayed on top of itself. Anyway, I am starting to pare down and I am proud to say I am making a bit of headway.I have also been adjusting to life post “dream job.” It has been a hard 5 months of searching, interviewing, interning and consulting, failing, breaking through and everywhere in between. I was very used to having the right answers and or controlling my outcomes to get what I wanted and for a while I took it personally that this was happening to me.

I felt like life was progressing without me and I was stuck back in a fog of what should I do? Who do I want to be now?But like the removal of clutter from our home, I started (inadvertently) reorganizing my head space.  Life isn’t smooth, fair or easy a lot of the time. Taking what you have, continuing to grow and learn through experience and still coming out wanting and trying to be the best version of yourself is the greatest measure of success.

I have grown immensely during this time and vow to re-emerge from the ashes a better wife, friend, sister, daughter, employee and person.My husband passed on this blog post taken from Zen Habits. Please read it and then seek to find what rules work best for your life.

Luella says…Courtney says.

 

Lessons from Less

By: Courtney Carver of Be More with Less.

When I was 16, I wanted more. When I was 24, I wanted even more than that. So, I worked harder, earned more, spent more, to have more, only to owe more. I was exhausted at the end of the day and tired when I woke up most mornings. I ate on the fly, fell behind, ran late and could never catch up. Sound familiar?

I thought everything I was doing was for a better life. I thought what I was doing was normal and right. I had become so used to bills in the mailbox, and feeling rundown, that I didn’t know anything was wrong. So, how did I go from wanting more, more, more to craving less? I would love to tell you that I woke up one morning a changed person, but that’s not the way it went down. Even though I had begun to make small changes, I needed a wake up call … and it had to be really loud.

On July, 7th 2006 I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting Multiple Sclerosis. That was my wake up call, and to say it was loud is an understatement. The diagnosis was nothing short of traumatic. I didn’t have enough information to take action. I only knew enough to be really scared. I had so many questions. Could I still ski with my family? Would I be able to help my daughter with homework? Would I even be walking in a year?

No one had the answers to those overwhelming questions, so I had to focus on what was most important: my health and my family. Nothing else mattered. If I had moved forward with these big questions and fearful thinking, my daughter and husband would have been so worried. I realized that if I started thinking differently, so would they. My questions went from, “What is this disease going to do to my body and mind?” to “How am I going to reverse MS?”

The answer to my question was change. Small shifts and big change were necessary to become the best possible version of myself. When I started making changes in my life, I didn’t know that they would lead to minimalism, but they did. In fact, while the changes I made were fighting MS, they were also redefining my whole life. The changes I made are not all essential in the life of a minimalist, but they are all essential to my minimalist lifestyle.

What I did to change my life:

I became a vegetarian. Research shows that MS patients, and people dealing with other autoimmune conditions that eat fewer saturated fats and “inflammatory foods” maintain better health. (I would challenge that this goes for most everyone.) Giving up meat was one of the best ways I could really “do something” about my new diagnosis. I stopped eating meat to achieve better health.

When I started my vegetarian journey, I started reading. I read about raising animals for meat. I read about factory farming. I learned about the impact of our actions on our bodies, animals and the earth. By really opening my eyes and heart to how meat was put on my plate, I lost my appetite for it. I was motivated by health and changed with compassion.

I fell in love with yoga. Practicing Yoga gives me strength, flexibility, focus, peace of mind and freedom from fear. I want to keep my body strong, and my mind calm and focused so I can effectively fight this disease and take care of my family. While I am in search of less, I want to be more sensitive and loving, more adaptive and more resilient. Yoga gives me that, too.

I got rid of my stuff. While I always felt compelled to put something on an empty surface, I have come to love an empty space. It takes living without it to realize how clutter affects your life and takes away from your freedom and creativity. I am reminded of that every time I walk into my kitchen and instead of seeing a cluttered counter, I see sunlight streaming in from the kitchen window. I am still letting go of my stuff and feel lighter everyday.

I decided to live without debt. You may not think that your bank account can affect your health, but considering money can cause great stress, and stress can make you sick, it only makes sense that poor money management equals poor health. My husband and I made the decision to be debt free, and paid off our last debt this summer except for our house. What will we do with our money now that we don’t have any monthly payments? Whatever we want.

I hung up the phone. I do not use my phone when I’m driving anymore. I don’t text at red lights or make calls on the back roads. I can remember too many times where I would arrive at a destination and not remember how I got there because I was so involved in a phone call. Admitting that I had essentially been risking my life and the lives of other drivers wasn’t easy, but it was necessary to make the change and the commitment to be phone free in the car.

Another benefit is that now, when I pick my daughter up from school, she has my full attention. She doesn’t have to compete with business or other phone fueled distractions. I am there for her.

I redefined better. As I mentioned before, all of my bad habits came from wanting something better, something more. In the changes I’ve made, I have redefined what better means to me and my family. The health and happiness of my marriage and family comes before everything else. My husband and I have decided that “more” isn’t the answer for us.

Now at 41, forever changed, and virtually symptom free, I am becoming me. I know I haven’t figured it all out but am content. I don’t make as much as I used to. I didn’t take a big vacation this year or make any big purchases, but there is no doubt that I am happier. Less speaks to me. Less lets me love more deeply and less lets me really be me.

My wake up calls have become more subtle, but because I have the time and space to pay attention, I hear them loud and clear. When I first started to practice doing less and being more, I discovered Zen Habits. It was another wake up call, but it sounded like a whisper, “You can do this. You can change.” It is not a coincidence that Leo Babauta’s story of change changed me. I was ready to listen, ready to change.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that less is enough. Of course, I am still learning, still changing and still a work in progress, but now it is my turn to inspire change with my story.

Use Courtney’s story as a positive wake up call and get your outlook in order as we enter the new year.

No matter how deep the hole feels, there is ALWAYS a way out. Stay positive and believe in yourself.

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