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5.12.18

PROGRESS
OVER PERFECTION


I'll do this after I do that. I'll get to it once this happens. I can't start this until this is perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfection. 


How many times does perfection get in the way of starting or doing the things we love? If we can't do it perfectly or under the perfect circumstances, we don't see the point in doing it at all. 




I've done this my whole life and will continue to do it. I will put off projects or self-care or life plans until the circumstances or plan is perfect. At first I thought it was just a Virgo trait (it is) and shrugged it off but then I realized how everyone can relate to this awful perfection trap. For me, perfection has made me procrastinate the bigger things like moving to London, re-designing this blog (notice anything different?) or choosing a daily meditation to practice — and the smaller things — like cleaning my room, planning my day off, or making a meal. If I can't clean my entire room perfectly, I'll put off cleaning it at all. If I can't decide on the perfect plan for my day off, I'll just end up staying home or running errands instead of doing something enjoyable. 



Perfection: a condition experienced by many — exasperated by social media — can cause frustration, procrastination, low self-esteem, and if left untreated, can lead to sadness, lack of purpose, and constant questioning featuring too many what ifs.





Let's be scientists or philosophers? for a minute and dissect perfection as it relates to human life. Everyone defines perfect differently and we all have varying levels of personal standards of perfection. I think it's fair to say — and I personally believe — that perfection is an illusion. Just as social media is an illusion. It is a curated, edited, airbrushed montage of just one tiny facet of our lives. Based on the idea that perfection is an illusion, that means perfection doesn't exist. So, why do we care so much about something that doesn't exist? 

Sometimes people — myself largely included — get caught up in living in a non-reality where life revolves mainly around the superficial things like appearance, status, money, and to-do lists. Living in reality means connection with others, accepting myself as I truly am, feeling emotions even the dark ones, and being versus doing




*lost in a philosophical black hole as I usually am* 

Okayyy let's go back to my original point of perfection causing procrastination and so much more. A few weeks ago I had a moment where I realized I had been living in this state for years. It was during my daily FaceTime chat with my sister. We were talking about my blog and how I wanted to re-design the layout. She said: Didn't you say you'd do the re-design once you moved to London and felt more inspired?

Me, having lived four months already in London, felt this question slap me upside the face with truth. It launched me straight out of my non-reality as my reality sunk in. "Inspiration" was just a pretty name I gave to my fear of not achieving perfection with my re-design. And this fear fuelled years of procrastination. So not only did I not re-design my blog, I continued to post despite growing to actually hate my (now previous) layout. 


After we got off the phone, this mantra came to me and kicked me in the butt: 


PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION

PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION
PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION



When I choose to make progress, move forward, and take action, that's when I achieve my goals. It's letting the walls of perfection fall to reveal something so pure and unique to me. It's about loving and believing in myself enough to trust that whatever I create isn't perfect but it's real. And my best self is created from this space of honesty. 

It's easy to get caught up in comparison of what everyone else is doing and the need to feel accepted. But what ends up happening is everyone does the same thing and the perfection bug actually causes repetition. 



My friends know I had been talking about moving to London for years before moving. I wanted it to be perfect. But I got to a point where I had to just take action and go or I would be waiting forever. My move wasn't simple or easy and I've faced many, many, rejections and walls. But this experience taught me to live here and now, and to actually do the things I talk about doing someday. Because like perfection, someday doesn't actually exist. 

The day after my chat with my sister, I did my blog re-design in just a few hours. It felt good to finally do it and not worry about it being perfect. Once I started it, the pressure was off and having done it, I now feel inspired by myself — not London  to finish it off. 



PHOTOGRAPHY: LEANNE DIXON

The next time you're about to put off anything because you're scared it won't be perfect, remember that progress is more important than perfection. Clean your room just a little bit, apply for that job without re-reading your application fifty times, start that book, pick up your paint brush, let your laundry pile up a bit while you catch up with that friend you haven't spoken to in a while. Be imperfectly you. 










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25.11.18

LOST AND FOUND
IN STOCKHOLM




One of my many reasons for moving to London is to travel other cities in Europe. Traveling isn't something I've done a lot of so I'm excited to finally see more of the world. I went on my first lil trip at the end of October to Stockholm, Sweden. It's somewhere I've always wanted to see but never thought I'd go there so soon. 



The idea came up when I was looking at tour dates for one of my favourite artists, Jorja Smith. She released her first full album, Lost & Found, in June, and it's been on repeat — front to back —ever since. It's rare that I enjoy a full album beginning to end. My attention span mixed with my music taste means I get obsessed with one song or album and play it over and over. I've also watched Jorja take over the R&B music world with this album and knew this first full tour would be something so precious and special. One I couldn't miss. 




Her tour sold out across Europe. Except in one city. Without hesitation, I bought my ticket and booked a flight to Stockholm. 





Stockholm is the first city I'd been to where English wasn't the common language. While I expected to feel quite lost, and I did geographically-speaking, the city felt similar to Canada to me. The fresh air, greenery, open spaces, wider roads, and the people were so friendly. It was comforting to experience a culture so similar yet so far away, especially as I've never been out of Canada for this long. 







Jorja was JUSTTTTTTTTTTT!!! Just just. When she first came on stage, she was a bit shy but had this silent confidence. Her presence was sweet and gentle yet powerful and honest. She sings so effortlessly her lips barely move but her voice travels straight to the soul. She expressed a lot of gratitude to her fans and I adored this about her. 



Not pictured: the fact that I had to spend all day resting and pull myself out of bed to go to the concert. Prior to travelling, I had a cold virus that was lingering for a few weeks and the flight and air pressure made it worse. I spent a lot of time alone in my hotel eating cough drops, popping Swedish medicine tablets, and creating piles of used tissues. I felt this overwhelming sense of being alone and introspective — in a way that wasn't transformational or teaching to me. It was an uncomfortable introspection that made me realize how much people energize me. I truly am an extrovert and in this situation I didn't feel like I could make friends in the little time I spent there, especially not knowing the language. I'm learning that it's okay to feel vulnerable and need people. I'm trying to be more gentle with myself. 

Despite being so ill, I did my best to make the most of my trip and enjoy the quiet moments. Looking back, this trip was more testing, emotional, dark, and deep than I ever expected and I don't hate it. 




I spent my mornings walking around and trying all of the pastries at Vete-Katten — a Stockholm institution. I went shopping of course and have to say I like the fashion sense — potentially more than London — sorry bub. It's minimal but architectural and interesting. They also had very Canada-esque outdoor clothing stores which I found amusing. 



I visited the museum of modern art and ate real Swedish meatballs. I spent an embarrassing amount of time in the grocery store analyzing all the Swedish foods. If you want to learn about culture in a new city, visit the grocery store. Seriously. 






I walked through the downtown core as the light began to dim (around 3 pm) and listened to another one of my favourite artists who happens to be from Stockholm: Veronica Maggio. I remember discovering her music in Canada and only dreaming of visiting Stockholm some day. This was a truly special can't believe this is happening moment. It made me realize that anything I can dream up, I can experience. 



As I was sad to leave and still miss the fresh air, I am glad to be back in my new home. I missed you, London! 





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24.10.18

LIFE IN LONDON:
THE CITY AS A TEACHER





When I open my eyes in the morning, one of my first thoughts is always I can't believe I live in London and Is this real? I get out of bed and do my daily meditation. I feel peaceful and grateful for the day. I eat breakfast and drink tea. I get ready and leave my flat — either for work or to run errands or go for a wander in a new area. One thing I'm still adjusting to is the sheer amount of people in this city. I now expect crowds, line ups, and just people everywhere I go. I love it because I'm never alone and being among a blanket of people creates a veil of anonymity, creating less opportunities for judgment from strangers. I hate it because it can be overwhelming and public transit tends to bring out the worst in people. It also takes a lot longer to get somewhere. I describe London as the city of polarities. It's everything and anything, peace and chaos, rich and poor, sun and rain, darkness and light. It's a circus that runs itself and never sleeps. It's unapologetically British. 



I tried my best to not have expectations around what living in London would be like. I set myself up to expect that I could love it, I could be scared and times may be tough, I would face a lot of potential rejections (have I ever), and I could have a hard time finding friends or groups to join. I wanted to guard this experience by leaving the expectations as open as possible. This has helped me in so many ways. It's given me space to interpret all of my experiences as they come. 



One of my yoga students asked me how I was finding London so far. I thought for a moment and what came to mind was London has been the best teacher. They had never heard it described that way and I find Londoners are always amazed by how the city is perceived. I went on to explain how before moving here, I considered myself a quite calm and patient yogi. Just a few months in, I have learned that this is not exactly true. I've learned more about myself since moving here than I have in years and this is one of my reasons for wanting to follow this dream. I had a feeling that a lot of the things I believed to be true about myself weren't true — or at least weren't being tested enough to know for sure.



We think we know what we want and what we like and what we don't like and what we can handle. Until we put ourselves in situations outside our comfort zone, we don't truly know ourselves as well as we think we do. 



Here are a few recent revelations that have made me ponder how well I truly know myself. 

I don't like the city sometimes and big crowds can be overwhelming.

Key word is sometimes. Obviously I moved to London because I do love it. I love how big and chaotic and gritty it is. I love the buzz. And as an extrovert, I do get energized by people. However, I'm learning that I've overestimated my tolerance for things like thrusting myself into a packed subway cart, waiting a long time in line ups, getting excited to go to an art exhibit or movie only to learn it is sold out, waiting lists, and *accidentally* going to a market or vintage store at peak hour and literally not being able to walk because of how many people are there. These ~little~ things are all new to me and are teaching me how to be more patient, tolerant, and grateful than I could've ever imagined. I feel grateful because I realize that visiting galleries, markets and shopping are privileges. 



Routine is not only important but essential to my wellbeing. 

Moving to a new city and working part-time, blogging part-time, and searching for full-time work has certainly thrown off my extremely comfortable nine to five routine of the past six years. I didn't realize how much I depended on having a routine and the affect it has on my wellbeing. I knew I wouldn't have a daily routine for my first months here but figured if I could start each day off on the right foot, it would make up for the lack of routine everywhere else. A few weeks in, I established a morning routine so that every day starts the same regardless.




Trusting that everything will be okay is a daily effort. 

On the outside, I always appear to have a positive, cheerful, and sunny disposition. While I mostly feel this way, I have many moments of self-doubt. This whole process has really tested my ability to trust — in my dream, in this journey, and most importantly, in myself. I made a lot of sacrifices to move here. I quit my job, I sold my car, I sold a lot of my stuff, I saved a lot of money and paid off debts. I didn't have a job lined up or a solid place or many friends in the city. I did have goals, intuition, and trust. I had to really trust that this was the right decision and I knew because I felt it in my heart. When I tuned into that feeling, I just knew it would be okay. I have to renew this trust every day and sometimes many times throughout the day. It is the most bizarre feeling moving somewhere and signing a lease, even buying plants or furniture — items that symbolize settling — without fully knowing how this will all work out. 





Building a sense of trust within myself that I'll always be okay no matter what is a teaching that I could've only learned by taking a big risk and following my heart. For that, I am forever grateful. London, you truly are the best teacher and I'll continue trying to be a good student. 


PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEANNE DIXON 










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15.10.18

EMOTIONAL STATES AT THE
LONDON DESIGN BIENNALE




One thing I definitely wanted to do when I moved here (London) was volunteer in some capacity. In my last post, I talked the importance of defining your identity based on your life's work rather than your job. Volunteering, creating, reading, learning — these all fall under my life's work umbrella. Among my many London-related Internet search black holes that I've fallen into was Somerset House — an iconic piece of history, art gallery, and venue that sits along the river near West London. This is where I first read about the London Design Biennale (LDB for short) and was immediately interested in getting involved. 

The very first LDB was in 2016 and brought together some of the world's most ambitious designers, innovators, and curators to show how design impacts our very being and every aspect of our lives. The theme for 2016 was Utopia by Design. The Biennale returned this September with the theme Emotional States. As someone who is fascinated by the human brain, emotions, and of course, mental health, this exhibition caught my attention. After sending in my application and attending an interview, I was chosen to be one of this year's volunteers. 

Two to three times per week throughout the Biennale, I threw my black and orange t-shirt on, grabbed a flat white, and hopped on the Northern line to Somerset House. We had our morning briefing, grabbed our LDB tote bags and catalogue, and walked to our stations. I spent my shift greeting hundreds of visitors, answering questions, admiring and interacting with the exhibits, and making new friends. 

What I thought would be a standard volunteering position turned into something much deeper ~as one should expect at a show titled Emotional States~ and I am so grateful for this experience. It was a perfect intro to London. 

Here's what I learned:

Emotion is a universal language. 

The nature of this exhibit is multi-cultural. Each installation represents a country in that the designers are from that country and their exhibit was heavily influenced by aspects of their culture. Being that London is often referred to as a melting pot of cultures, the LDB was a direct reflection of this. Visitors of all cultures came to the LDB and many were most excited to see how their country depicted the theme. The installations were interactive and many included highly emotional things like scent, textures, and sounds so specific to their country. 

Qatar's installation titled The State of You by designer Aisha Nasser Al-Sowaidi was one of my favourites. You could smell it from down the hallway but only got the full effect from standing under one of the ceramic domes. Visitors are invited to place their heads beneath seven dome-like “worlds”, each of which releases a different scented smoke. Each dome released a scent that bears emotional significance to the designer. Scents of mango, tobacco and rain filled the room. I am heavily influenced by scent and believe it is one of the most emotionally charged substances. A specific scent can transport us back in time.  





Canada's installation titled An Emotional Landscape by Bruce Mau Design (Toronto) displayed a map and markers of cities that are named after different emotional states. The design team were struck by the fact that so many places in Canada are named after emotional states – from Happy Adventure, Newfoundland to Hope, British Columbia by way of Love, Saskatchewan. Opposite the map were video projections of interviews with citizens of those cities. As a Canadian new to London, I found so much comfort in this room and my immediate reaction was this is just SO Canada and I love it. 



Most people I've met here so far are from somewhere else and while London is incredible, there is just something about home that is comforting and nostalgic. I think a lot of visitors found comfort in the sights, sounds, and scents of their homeland. 

Design can be a powerful force for good. 

Many of the installations not only represented their country but are sparking new ideas for solving crucial problems. Sustainability, up-cycling, accessibility, human rights, and healing trauma were common themes that I was heartened to see. 

Sweden showed how coal— a historically cheap and dirty fossil fuel— could be re-used to create art pieces, floor tiles, and furniture. It looks sleek too! 

The Netherlands presented a greenhouse of the future – a building that harvests both food and the electricity needed to grow it. How cool is that?



Good people make everything more fun. 

Some of the shifts felt longer than others and all of them required standing all day. What kept me going and coming back with a big smile on my face was my fellow volunteers. They all had diverse backgrounds but we all had our passion for art and design in common. As we sometimes spent over two hours with each other if we were stationed in the same exhibit, we all got really close fast and connected on a deep level. Some of them had me in tears laughing and it made the day go by in a flash. We're all still talking via text and liking each other's insta pics. It's the best. 



If you're at all interested in art and design, sustainability, and creative solutions to important issues, I invite you to read about all the participants here.


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24.9.18

WHY MY JOB
ISN'T MY WORK




What do you do? 

It's one of the most common questions we get asked. Sometimes this question is posed before ones like how are you?

Much of our identity is formed through our job(s). I used to identify a lot of with what I did for a living. Speaking as someone who's recently quit her full-time job of 6+ years to pursue dreams of moving and working in London, this post is about work, identity, and jobs — and how I've come to redefine all three. 



My early 20s were slightly predictable and you couldn't pay me to re-live them. HOORAY for turning 27! After high school, I went to college, after college I did an internship, after that, I started working. I worked really hard. I got a job that not only paid my bills but that I genuinely loved. I had made it (whatever that means). There's a lot of pressure to get that first "real" job. There isn't as much of a focus on what to do after that. After a six year career, I accomplished a lot. I learned a lot. I worked very hard to get to where I did. But I did reach a point where I didn't feel challenged. I stopped growing at the rate that I wanted. I felt that I needed a big change. 



These past two months have been strange in that I haven't been working full time for the first time in over six years. This time has been so valued and has allowed me to figure out what's next. It has also taught me the value of not letting one single job be my whole life. When I let go of everything I had created — a career, a job, a work-life, I could clearly see who I am without it. For me, this was the only way to really know and feel my worth. I've given myself the opportunity to take a minute to sense my next career direction and I'm really excited about what I now know. 



WORK

The difference between my job and my life's work

I was listening to one of Oprah's podcasts and her guest was Wes Moore discussing if jobs are our life's purpose. He said something that really resonated with me. He said that our job is not our (life's) work. What we do for a living shouldn't define our identity. 

We all need money to live on. This is reason enough to not define ourselves by what we do. This whole experience has made me take a deep look at how I spend my time. I thought I would be so bored during the job search here in London. The truth is I've been just as busy as before — despite not working full time. My life's work as I now call it, is the reason why I've been so occupied. All the while I was working full time at the beginning of my career, I didn't realize that I was also planting seeds that would serve me later on.


Shirt: French Connection. Pants: Primark. Shoes: H&M. Glasses: Clearly

What have I been up to? 

I have been working part-time in a yoga studio at reception as well as teaching a class once a week. For the month of September, I've been volunteering at the London Design Biennale three days per week. In between, I have been doing photoshoots, writing blog posts, and of course — applying to full-time jobs. I've been meeting people and making friends, exploring my new city, and organizing the admin of my life. These things make me so happy. They are part of my life's work. 

Who you are, what you do, the affect you have on others, what you give, what you create — these are what define your life's work. The trick is finding opportunities to do all of the above. Once I began to focus my thoughts on the things I am passionate about, the opportunities started to appear. 



IDENTITY 

How it's formed and how I am re-inventing mine 

Identity really fascinates me. It's so fluid. So sensitive. We almost have to watch it and how it affects us. For a few years at least, my identity was hazy. It wasn't strong or confident. I was just trying to keep my head above water and going with the so-called flow. 

I re-designed my resume two months before I moved to London. I also made a creative portfolio. These were the hardest documents I've ever had to create. I realized that I had sort of lost touch with what I was capable of. What was I made of? I asked myself this a lot. It turns out I was made of all these awesome things that had become such normal parts of my day that I never took the time to appreciate them. 

I had to take the time to figure out what I had to offer of value, what my skills were, and feel confident in naming off accomplishments. I had to become an expert in my own professional self. I can't explain how good it feels to actually take the time to do this.




JOBS 

Can we make money doing what we love?

Yes and no. Sometimes we just need to pay our bills. Some people can't work for various reasons. Sometimes what we love to do just doesn't pay in money. The point of defining your life's work based on everything you are as a person, your volunteering commitments, your art, your services to others, is because jobs are sometimes just there to pay the bills. My various other fulfilling activities and commitments is what keeps me going when I have to do jobs that pay but don't fulfill me in other ways. What I have discovered, though, is I can bring elements of my life's work into any job. 



Life really is a miracle and I am grateful for each day. The fact that I can breathe, walk, talk, love, dance, sing, cook, write — is amazing. We are all magical miracles of life and the fact that we exist means we have purpose. We matter and we're here to inspire, uplift, and marvel at this amazing thing called life. 

So let's get to work. 


PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEANNE DIXON






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