Friday, September 25, 2009

Do You Make Style, or Does Style Make You?

Last week, I was told I can wear anything from casual sporty, to sexy and wild. People have been telling me, they like my style. To me, it is a great compliment; yet, I am wondering what the word "style" really means, and what it implies, when someone tells you "you got style".

Merriam Webster dictionary delivers the following definition of style a: the state of being popular:(fashion) clothes that are always in style; b: fashionable elegance; c: beauty, grace, or ease of manner or technique (an awkward moment she handled with style).

This definition is partly true. Style has to do with aesthetics, so in a way, it can be considered as something beautiful. But what I consider beautiful does not mean you do, too--beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. If someone carries themselves with style, they could (emphasize on could...!) be carrying themselves in a graceful manner, probably because they feel comfortable in their clothing. However, does style really have to do with fashion? And does being in style, really mean the clothing one wears while being stylish, have to be fashionable?

Aren't fashion and style two completely different things? While style can be influenced by fashion--something that is currently in style--one can still be stylish, without the fashion. Gwen Stefani serves as one example for someone who can be in style, but doesn't necessary have to make use of fashionable gadgets. Stefani is the perfect example of what style is beyond fashion. She does not use fashion, but makes use of whatever she thinks suits her and creates her own style. Therefore, style is not necessary synonymous with fashion but with individuality.

A friend of mine, Don Brodie, a current photography student at Parsons in New York, who specializes in Fashion Photography (he just went to New York Fashion week to cover some events backstage) says the following about style and fashion, "Fashion for me is a universal language. Whether someone wants to admit it or not, they are bout fashion. It is an identifier, it is how one defines them self. Style is the "." [bottom line] in fashion. It starts with the fashion which is a mass produced thing (at least to most of us). Style is adding your own flair and creating your individual voice."

If fashion is mass produced and set by the designers who create the pieces, do they make your style, or is style then, what we make of it as individuals. I think style is is about identifying what works for you. Or could we all wear what Stefani rocks?, probably not. Style makes you who you are as an individual, and you make style by expressing your individuality.

She: Hey girl!

She 2: Hey!

She: Damn, I love your outfit, you really know how to work it girl. (Man, I would never wear that...).

She 2: Thank you! I like your's too. (Gosh, she got no style...)

She: Thank you. We should go shopping together sometime.

She 2: Yes, we should. (Man, I would not go shopping with you, you just want to steal my style...) All right, I'll give you a holler. Later! (Nah, I won't call her).

She: All right. (Damn, she got guts wearing that shit...)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It Was the Night to Forget About Everything

To the Day He Wanted to Die

True Story

It is a nice summer evening in 2008, when a group of people gathers at a lake to celebrate their friend’s birthday. They are having fun, just enjoying the company of one another, without having to think about unemployment, relationship issues, and financial problems. It was a night to forget about everything else. The party involves alcohol and who knows what other substances. The evening proceeds into night, people are reaching a certain limit, starting to feel buzzed, when one of them has an idea--taking a dip into the lake.

One of the friends is hesitant. It is the birthday child. I call him Mike since I do not want to reveal his real name. He knows it is a bad idea, but his friends laugh off his concerns, so he decides to give it a shot. He jumps into the dark water, head first...

Mike wakes up weeks later from a coma. Soon realizing he cannot move from the neck down. He has been paraplegic from that day on.One of the first things he does, and will do almost daily, is calling his best friend asking for salvation; asking to be put out of his misery.

Next, he ends up at an institution for disabled people, most of who are mentally disabled. Mike is still clear in his head,but he is surrounded by people that can barely talk, have ticks, or are just slow. It's Mike's first night there, when a young woman who belongs to the nursing staff starts her shift. One of her colleges tells her they have a new resident. It is the night shift, and she decides to go into Mike's room to introduce herself as the night nurse. When she opens the door, she cannot believe what she sees.

He just stares at her, unable to say anything at all. They are the same age, not even thirty, and had known each other from their teenage years. He was one of the "cute guys", talented, too. She hid her tears that night and tries to be as professional as possible. The tears came when she went home that day.

Whenever she works, she spends time with him, they have conversations and she takes him out for walks in the park. At the point where he refuses to eat, she has to put him on a feeding tube. She tells herself she is just doing a job. Other nights, when she sees how degraded he feels when she has to release him from his excrement, since he can't use the bathroom anymore, she just focuses on the job, too. She tells me how at first his friends come and visit. But the longer he is there, less people show up to see him. At last, only a few family members and maybe one or two friends persistently show up.

A couple months later, he moves to a different institution. They haven't seen each other since.

Two weeks ago, she gets the news--he died at the age of 29.

I want to share this, because I really felt for this person. I want people to remember these kinds of stories and make them apparent in their lives. I want people to realize that life is short. We may never take a single day for granted. We may never not do what our heart desires, we need to be aware of how precious life is. Tell your loved ones you love them, and never leave after a fight, before you told that person you love them.

These kinds of stories help me to put things into perspective, and make wonder about what really is important in life—certainly not materialistic things.

I do not think we actually have to look in the face of death to be able to appreciate certain things as simple as the sunrise.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Love versus Love

Movie Night: Twilight (part I) versus Revolutionary Road

When I picked the movies for my last movie night, I chose to watch Twilight, because I wanted to find out what the hype about the movie was. I also selected Revolutionary Road, without really knowing why.

Both movies turned out to be love stories.

In Twilight, an ordinary girl, played by Kristen Stewart, falls in love with a vampire Robert Pattinson. That in itself creates a conflict, because vampires and humans are not supposed to love each other. Still, their attraction towards each other wins, and they end up getting together. While he shows her his vampire world, they are being chased by other vampires, who want to kill her.

He risks everything for her to be safe at the end. While I must say, the story isn't very deep, since it is just a nice romance piece that depicts the beauty of love. The endless desire for each other, the willingness to do anything for one another. The movie shows how love makes you forget about everything around you.

I then continued my night with Revolutionary Road with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, which turned out to be another love story--but the different kind of love story--developing into a drama, while showing the other side of love. It is about this couple that decides to move to Paris from a suburb in Connecticut, in order to start a new life. He works a job he can't stand and she takes care of their two children. But, they are caught up in tradition, and just the idea of breaking out of it, develops into numerous conflicts.

Although they love each other, their relationship ends in disaster. Not only do they seem to fail the idea of moving away, but they are failing their relationship. Paris, just served as an escape of their broken love life which they are incapable of repairing.

It was interesting to see the two kinds of love in these movies. While everyone wants to experience the love of Twilight,reality can become Revolutionary Road. It is interesting to see, what love can be. Does love always have to end in disaster, and if it does, how does one get out of it? Doesn't love always start like the first movie I watched, where everything is good and love is all that counts, and then ends up where a couple gets caught up in what is left after the beauty of love called reality, where love becomes secondary? Do we need to make love primary again, in order to make it work in the long run?

Love definitely is a complex thing...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Currently Reading

"The Law of Attraction" by Esther and Jerry Hicks

In every book I read, whether it is fictional work, biographies, memoirs, or guidance books, I find passages or quotes I would like to share.

The Law of Attraction, is a law that says "one attracts what one thinks". Thoughts can be positive or negative; therefore, we attract good and dire things. Now, I can imagine, one does not want to attract negative things, but the question is, how can we not think unhelpful thoughts? The Law of Attraction says, that we need to trust our inner voice. When having thoughts that are being accompanied by negative emotions, these emotions want to tell us that what we are thinking of is not what we want. So once we feel negative about one thing, we need to find out how to make us feel positive about it again. One way to do that is by not making a small negative thought turn into a negative emotion. Once we monitor our thoughts, we can steer them into a different direction. With other words, when we start doubting or thinking negative about something we want, we do not have to let the thought manifest in our system, so the thought does not have to turn into a negative emotion.

Another interesting passage I found was the following. According to this book, we learn not to trust our intuition and get influenced by people around us, possibly parents, friends, teachers etc. who try to tell us how things are supposed to go. When our ideas do not correlate with what other people tell us, we start believing that we cannot trust our own impulses and ideas, and learn that what our intuition is telling us may be wrong.

This book says that when we feel love, we are in tune with our inner self, and when we feel hate or other negative emotions, we are not in tune with our inner self. Interestingly, it says that when we were younger, we used to know these things, because we were more willing to trust our inner voice. I think that finding one's happiness is hard work. Every individual is different, and one may take other people's advice, but truly, the only one who can lead us to our happiness is ourselves, we just need to know what we want, and by listening to our inner selves, we can find out what we truly desire, or whether what we think we want really IS what we desire...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

'Leave Britney Alone' and take Beth Ditto as an Example

Britney Spears is currently performing all over Europe, North America, and Australia with her “The Circus Starring Britney Spears” tour. The tour started in June of this year in Paris, and will end in October. According to Spears’ official website, it is said to be the highest grossing tour of 2009, and will earn $ 74 million. Despite these great successes, I did not know anything about the tour, except for Britney’s weight issues. When I googled “Britney and the circus tour”, I got 3,590,000 results, whereas when I googled “Britney Spears weight issues”, I received 5,650,000 results!

Regardless of whether people like Spears or not, things need to be put into perspective. As far as I can tell, I do not think she is overweight or even fat. She may not always appear in the best light in all of her outfits, but I think one should blame her stylist. He/she should be able to tell what is flattering for Spears or not. To me, Spears appears like a regular woman. Just imagine seeing someone of her body type on the street, would you turn around and comment on her weight?

It angers me, how women in public are ripped apart for their appearance. I wonder why we live in a society that appears to live by the motto “perfect only”. Due to some unforeseen circumstances and stresses, I have dropped a couple of pounds lately. I was never a big girl, but always the curvy kind with a size 8 or 10. I never pressured myself into loosing weight, and never put myself on a diet. I merely ate healthy, and went to the gym regularly. Now that I have lost weight, the feedback I am getting from friends is mostly positive. Everyone tells me how great I look skinnier. On the one hand, these compliments are flattering, yet, I can see how they put me under pressure. I am a private person, now how must this pressure feel like coming from everywhere, public media even?

Beth Ditto, rising star of The Gossip, appears to be comfortable in her own skin. She is outgoing, and even performs on stage in her underwear. I personally have a lot of respect for the kind of work her and Spears do. Being in the public eye, and therefore being judged upon your work right on the spot is enough pressure, do people really care about their weight? I think we need to remember that people like Spears and Ditto are human beings, with human problems, and not icons, or images that have to represent what we would like to be.

As a college student, I had lived a predominantly sedentary life style, and decided I needed to become more active. I noticed how, by working out, my body became leaner and more defined; additionaly, it contributed to a kind of inner balance. Anyhow, there was no force for me. I liked the way I looked, and I think that is the key--feeling comfortable in your own skin, and dressing accordingly. Thanks Beth Ditto for showing us how to! This is what Ditto said in an interview with BILD, “I had two options. I could either hate myself and my body for the rest of my life. Or I could set my own standards, find my own look and be happy with myself the way that I am. So I did the second one!”

Woman, stop dieting, stop thriving for perfect. Live healthy and be good to yourself. Take Beth Ditto as an example for everyone who judges upon your looks!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Caterpillar and Bird

Two Friends Learning How to Fly

A long time ago, there was a young bird couple living in a beautiful nest on a chestnut tee. The couple was in love and ready to have children. So they decided to build a bigger nest on a taller tree, to have space for the two babies to come. As young mother bird sat on top off the eggs, papa bird would leave to collect material for the new nest.

On an autumn day, the wind was howling and shaking around the twigs and branches making mama bird clinch her wings around the eggs. Mother bird had gotten worried when papa bird had wanted to leave for his daily quest. She had asked him to stay and told him it might be too dangerous that day. But papa bird was stubborn because he knew of the importance of finishing their new home. It was the night the baby birds were supposed to hatch. He told mother bird not to worry, and said he would be back before nightfall to pick up her and the eggs, so the babies could hatch comfortably. As soon as papa bird left, the wind had gotten more aggressive, and rain started pouring down the leaves leaving mother bird trembling and wet. Mother nature didn't mean well that day, and soon the storm came closer, and developed into a thunderstorm right above them. Right as she was trying to tell herself everything was going to be ok, lightning struck the tree she was on. The owl said they all died that night...

But that wasn’t the case for all of them. One of the baby birds survived. He had hatched on the floor, and lived in that very spot for sometime. Until one day a caterpillar crossed his way. Caterpillar asked bird to come join him on his journey. Bird was happy to have found a friend, and together they were striving through the forest. They helped each other find food, and kept each other warm on cold, cold nights. They told each other stories when the moon was covered by the clouds so they didn’t have to be scared of the darkness.

One day, after a day of wandering through the woods, bird had gotten tired, and asked caterpillar to rest and build their camp for the night. Caterpillar was way ahead of bird. He turned around at birds request, and noticed something in bird’s eyes he had never seen before. He knew something wasn’t right. Bird told him, that he didn’t want to have to hide anymore, and that living on the ground had taken a toll on him, because of the dangers they would find themselves in every night. He told caterpillar, that it would be better for them to look for something more permanent. Something high up in the trees possibly, so that they wouldn’t have to be worried about being eaten by the other animals that also lived in the forest. Caterpillar hesitated, because he took a liking on the exciting life style they have had. He liked the thrill of the night, making him proud that they could survive on the ground. However, he was tired himself and asked bird to follow him up the oak tree that was right ahead of them.

And there they were, enjoying the feeling of comfort living high up in the oak tree giving them the feeling of a new found home. On days caterpillar was tired, bird went down to bring up some food. Other days, bird was tired or just feeling like being lazy, and caterpillar did the same. On their search for food, they would always pass the owl, and casually talk to her.

Although, nothing seemed different that spring day, and it was a nice was a sunny day indeed, caterpillar was bothered by something. He told bird he would go out to find some food. And so he left thinking of what it could be that was bothering him. The owl could tell that caterpillar was in deep thoughts, and asked him what was going on. Caterpillar wasn’t sure, but said that he missed the exciting life on the ground, but also enjoyed life on the tree. He said he was getting too comfortable, and in a way he felt like he had gotten dependent on his friend bird. Owl responded that the dependency he was feeling did not have to be negative, and that he just needed to find a balance. But caterpillar didn’t know how to. Owl explained that it was important to do some things on one’s own sometimes, and that once they would do that, they could enjoy the comfort of their home even more. It is not bad to feel safe, owl added.

When caterpillar returned, he had a strange feeling accompanying him. He asked bird why he never tried to fly. Bird said he didn’t know how to, and also didn’t see the need for it. But caterpillar told him, that he thought it was important to try new things, and do them on their own. Bird didn’t understand why, and asked caterpillar instead, why he had not turned into a butterfly yet. Caterpillar said he didn’t know how to.

The next day, caterpillar woke up very early. He had trouble getting a good night rest, and told bird he was going to find some food again, although it had been bird’s turn that day. Bird was ok with letting him go, and enjoyed the day in the tree. Caterpillar was almost at the bottom, when he shouted up, that bird should practice flying in the meantime. But bird didn’t feel like it, and was lying on his back, staring into the clouds turning them into pictures of things he liked. He had a good day doing that, and when caterpillar returned, he just wanted to tell him what kind of shapes he had seen in the clouds. Caterpillar wasn’t really listening, but only felt disappointment for the fact that bird had refused to practice what he had told him to.

Weeks had passed, and their friendship started crumbling. They barely talked, and caterpillar turned into the provider who brought food every day. One day, he was so tired and mad at the fact that he was doing all the work that he yelled at bird, saying that he should have learnt how to fly. Bird said that he would, but he was just not ready yet. That angered caterpillar even more, and he turned around in such a rough manner, that his turn had hit bird on his back and almost pushed him off the tree. Bird was able to hold on to a branch with one wing, screaming for help. But caterpillar felt paralyzed. Unable to move, bird slipped and fell down to the ground, but right as he was about to hit, his wings stared flapping, and he could hold himself up a few seconds to catch his fall.

When he landed, and his first landing was rough, he looked up the tree. Caterpillar was still not moving, and because he was upset that caterpillar made him fall, he decided to leave him. Every day, from that day on he was flying. At first a few feet, then some yards and later on he was able to fly around all day. He had thought about caterpillars words, and wished he would have started flying earlier. He felt very comfortable in the air, and was able to move from tree to tree. Every tree he rested at was different, and he enjoyed the freshness of finding new places to go to every day.

Caterpillar had waited for birds return, but one day realized that it was not going to happen. He did not want to be reminiscent of his old friend, and the tree was a constant reminder of his loneliness. Driven by his voracious appetite, he walked and walked so far, eating everything he had found on his way. Until he had to slow down, because he had felt so full, that he became incapable of moving. Not knowing how many days he went along like that, he fell asleep. When he woke up the next day, his life had changed. He had finally turned into a butterfly, and just like bird, his first tries flying were clumsy, but soon he became stable and able to fly around like he had never done anything else.

He flew back to the oak tree he used to live in with bird. As he got to the top, he noticed a flower on the ground. Bird had liked flowers, and the view reminded him of his friend. With the memory of his old friend coming back, the feeling of guilt for the night their ways had parted, came up with it. Butterfly felt the need to escape, and started flying, with no sense of direction. Hey, shouted someone in the tree. It was owl. They had a chat, and butterfly told him how guilty he had felt about what had happened, and complained about how lonely he felt without bird. Owl had told him, that the dependency caterpillar had once complained about was not a dependency, but the need for a friend. Owl had told him to look for his old friend. But caterpillar was doubtful and did not know how bird could forgive him. Just ask for forgiveness, you are a butterfly now, and you have learnt from the past, responded owl.

A year later, owl had noticed two objects in the air. They were floating with such lightness that he was wondering what kind of birds they were. As the objects came closer, he realized it was butterfly and bird. They had found each other again. Hello, shouted owl. Butterfly and bird greeted friendly, and told owl about their new adventurous life. Yes, we like moving from place to place, and it is allot easier to do that in the air, said butterfly. There are too many risks on the ground added bird, and they both left happy to have found each other again. This time we will never part they said and left...

The owl said that one may never force someone to do something. He also said that one may never take a friendship for granted. And so, owl still lives in the same tree, waiting for friends to ask for advice...
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