Friday, January 20, 2017

Burrrr, Says Buddha.

We have just now come out of hibernation.

And it's not because of some exciting snowfall (although it did come ironically on the same day); but rather, freezing weather.

I thought -7 degrees was bad! We hit some unbelievable -26 temperatures and that doesn't even compare to the -49 degrees that other parts of the state reached.

So you can imagine that I've been cooped up in my wood house, glued to the fireplace and obsessed with having slippers on my feet at all times. I only go out when necessary and when I do, I make sure to don every available glove and scarf to avoid any chances of my skin meeting the frigid air.

This has been going on all week long.

Luckily, we woke to soft snowfall this morning and as the afternoon and evening wore on, it didn't let up and I daresay we're going to be finally getting that winter wonderland we've all been wishing for.

One of the treasures I've stumbled across in being homebound against the raging cold is an old book that a dear friend of mine recommended a while back called The Buddha Walks into a Bar written by Lodro Rinzler. I don't actually recall cracking open the book back when I bought it, and I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant even now about reading a book "about Buddhism."

And it was in the first twenty pages that I stumbled across the line: "The purpose of studying Buddhism is not to study Buddhism, but to study ourselves."

So I continued to read.

I have to say, it's a very enlightening book and if there's a few things I've learned as core themes, it's to remain open-minded, practice being generous and compassionate, and to always be present. Quite important, and rather simple practices. And once you nail those yourself, other people follow suit. Then pretty soon, the whole world is engaged with their open hearts and basic goodness!

Quite inspiring.

So although I've been cooped up and locked-in all week, I learned how to be present in my homebound situation, engaged with what was going on around me and appreciative of the comfort of my couch, the crackle of the fire, the merino wool against my skin, and the view outside my window. Instead of wishing for warmer temperatures, more snowfall, and something exciting to occupy my day, I took a deep breath and looked at all the simple splendor around me, remembering this:

"If we could relax our idea of how things should be and appreciate them as they are, then the world would be magically transformed into a rich ground of opportunities..." 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

1930's, Flirty, and Thriving.

The epitome of Hollywood glamour, the height of sensual screen sirens, the luxurious satin and silk, the lace, the pin curls held back by rhinestone clips, wait. Is that also Amelia Earhart who just flew in?

It would appear as if I have taken a break from the year 2017 and hopped on a plane and flew backwards in time to the '30s.

As it so happens, the evening was spent celebrating the Sixth Annual Cocktail Party, hosted by our very dear friend Heidi. Set amidst a scene perfectly adorned with bottles of St. Germain and appropriate cigarettes and proper decorum, Heidi's house was the picture of glamour, decorated with women dressed in their '30s best.

Not only did I enjoy the exquisite setting (and cocktails and snacks), but I very much enjoyed the socializing aspect. Phones left at home and candles lighting the room, it allowed me to focus on the present and enjoy conversation with some very interesting ladies. It made me appreciate how special it is to look up from your screen and listen to the world around you. You learn far more and it takes you back to a time where parties were meant for socializing and not snapchatting.

I know that as time goes on, things change and other fads come in and become the center of attention, but it doesn't lessen the fact that I believe in enjoying an event without the distraction of a device. And they had cameras back then, so I wasn't cheating when I took that particular electronic with me!

Plus, I'll never pass up the opportunity to dress up from another decade and sip on fancy French cocktails...

Our lovely hostess Heidi pouring quite the collection of cocktails...

Food, booze, and lovely ladies. What an evening...

As the 1930's are a rather difficult decade to dress for, I was lucky to find this 30's satin dressing gown in my closet, a treasure I had picked up from our consignment store in Kenai. Crazy how I have these random antique treasures hiding in my closet.

So last night, I drank my cocktail, "smoked" my cigarette (placed accordingly in my ivory cigarette holder), and sat in satin.

Mom looking especially smashing in her Ted Baker! What a pair we make.

Until next year!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chills & Blues.

I woke with the kind of bone chilling cold that only seeps its way into your body every once in awhile. The kind where no matter how you bundle up in robes, scarves, socks, and cups of tea, it continues to linger uncomfortably under your skin.

And this weather forecast is supposed to continue well into next week.

Oh the joys of Alaskan winters. Aside from the cold, January happens to be the worst month for suicides, and is statistically one of the most depressing months. Enough to make the blues really sink in!

However. I've never been one to let these things bother me, no matter how frustrating it is to wake up to a thermometer of -7 degrees.

Because even though it's frigid outside, and even though it makes even the simple walk from the car to the house seem like the last sprint in an Arctic race, there are a lot of beautiful things to appreciate.

We're gaining sunlight! Currently, we have around five and a half hours of sunlight, but since December 21st (Winter Solstice), we're gaining seconds per day leading up to minutes per day by March 22nd (Vernal Equinox) at which point we continue to increase daylight, but at a slower rate. Interesting fact: although we have lots of sun in the summer and lots of darkness in the winter, the amount of sunlight we receive yearly is the same as anywhere else in the world.

It's still somehow spectacular outside. Walking down my spiral staircase, I was caught off guard by noticing these perfect spider webs, completely ensconced in hoarfrost (ice crystal growth) and creating quite an artwork. Everything outside, frostily frozen...

Also, I now have a valid excuse for staying home curled up in our bear rug in front of the fireplace, reading, or watching my favorite films. No guilt! Even when I chose to wear bearly anything...

Whatever keeps your mind positively occupied during this rough winter month, or whatever keeps you warm, just remember it only affects you if you let it affect you...

What I wore: vintage blue bobble necklace (used), gold sequined cardigan (consignment), blue silk Gypsy jumpsuit (consignment), and gold J Crew flats (consignment).

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Waiting Game.

I was never one of those people who woke up to the immediate check in of their devices. I've been around it too much, and it's not my preferred method of wakeup.

Instead, I enjoy the movie-style stretch, in which case my feet go off the end of my bed (tall girl struggles), the eye-scrunching "ehhhhhhhahhhh", and the tentative crawling out of my warm bed.

These past few weeks, however, have been a different story.

I've recently been in the process of acquiring a certain interview at my favorite company and have been waking up every morning, anticipation building, to check my email for the hopes of that one interview request.

It's like callbacks all over again from my acting days!

I like to call it: the waiting game.

You see, the waiting game plays on your emotions and it tests your strength and patience. I've been through enough uphills and downhills these last few weeks to know that things like this take time and that I have to remain positive and optimistic.

Lots of distractions also make a difference. It doesn't help, however, when the whole month of January's forecast is placed in the below ten degree margin with clear and bitter cold temperatures, making any attempt at going outside a nasty mistake. Unless you want to freeze your boogers and crust your eyelashes with ice, it's best to stay indoors.

Well, this doesn't help when my mind is inherently focused on the hopes of a job interview! Being stuck indoors has a way of making me focus precisely on what I'm not trying to focus on and it's been a struggle, but I've come up with a few things to keep myself occupied and optimistic.

1.) Scrapbooking. The scrapbook nook is where I like to let my creative juices really flow. It's a terribly old pastime, but I like things old-fashioned and it allows me to creatively preserve moments in time. And jam out to G-Eazy.

2.) Decorating my room & (trying) to go through my closet. I always fancied decorating my room various times a month. It keeps things fresh. Going through my closet doesn't necessarily connote getting rid of things (I find it hard), but more so trying on outfits and imagining myself wearing them, in some exotic and exciting setting other than my house. This also usually leads into a dance session.

3.) Napping. It's probably a terrible mistake because I find myself napping only when I'm bored, but there is something so right when you have your cat curled up to you just so and the temptations of pillows pull you under....

4.) Watching all of my old films. Whether it be Audrey Hepburn's Funny Face, Marilyn Monroe's Some Like It Hot, or the classic Devil Wears Prada, I find that watching these classics inspires me and assures me that style, fashion, romance, and writing are where my passions lie.

5.) Spending time with family. Probably the most important of all is relishing the time I do have here with my family. Whether that means happy hour at the counter, Warriors and Lakers games with my dad, or spin class with my mom, I'm enjoying every moment I have with them and taking this time at home with relish.

Today is a prime example of one such outfit picked out for the occasion of.... staying home. Just as well!

The cold eventually got to me and I had to retreat indoors!

What I wore: vintage red rhinestone necklace (antique store), red fuzzy Esprit top (consignment), floral floor length Eliza J skirt (super sale at Nordstrom Rack), and red Salvatore Ferragamo flats (used).

Friday, January 6, 2017

Stretched Out Sun.

My week did not go as anticipated.

The other day, I became struck with a sudden case of the runny nose and aptitude to sneeze profuse amounts. Perhaps due to the cold walk I took with my sister (in which case my eyelashes froze together), or the deep down anticipation I have concerning a possible job interview, I woke too ill to attend bike class and proceeded to spend the day watching old films, reading, writing, and plenty of napping.

Doesn't actually sound much different from my daily routine, come to think of it....

Anyhow, my sister assured me last night that it was actually worse for me to stay cooped indoors than to venture outside.

Taking her most trustworthy advice, I then agreed to accompany my mom and sister on a road trip to Homer. My sister sadly departs tomorrow evening and so time is of the essence.

By the time we hit the road (Jack), the sun was already beginning its descent downwards and we were soon facing the clear sky with the setting sun to our right and the crescent moon to our left. Closer to the horizon, we were blessed with an impeccable skyline of rugged wintry mountains and jagged volcanos, Alaska once again awing us with it's paint-like image.

Just another afternoon in Alaska!

Anyhow, the evening was spent doing what we do best: eating, drinking, and shopping.

And although we were only granted a few hours of daylight, the sunset took up the majority of that time.

So even if daylight hours are short here in Alaska, they're full of beauty and splendor...

Actually a fantastic and belly-full-of-laughs read!

Lunch was at the Two Sisters Bakery, as there were two sister patrons...

Ah, the blessed drive onto the Homer Spit..

Using pier pressure (pun intended) against my sister, I convinced her to come down and snap a few pics under these quiet docks with me...

Quite a view, yes?

All this staring into the sun, however, had me feeling rather... tired. If you know what I mean.

As walking on the beach can be very tiring.

Another spectacular sunset in Homer. So spectacular in fact, that we were not only able to see Augustine volcano (far right), but Douglas as well (center), which you don't often see due to cloud cover.

What did I say? Sun set on the right, moon rises on the left. Quite unique to see it all in one sky at one time...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Worst Year "Ever"? Here's Your Basket of Kisses.

I always think I've seen it all, and then Alaska goes ahead and surprises me with another spectacular force of nature, like the salmon pink sky we were greeted with this morning.

Oh, there is so much to be grateful for.

As I sit here on the last day of the year 2016, I can't help but feel... accomplished at what I've done this year. I graduated college, I studied abroad in London, and I am making steps towards pursuing my dream job.

And all the while, the internet bombards me with negative posts about the begging of 2016 to end, the mourning of all the celebrities we have lost this year, and the still sour taste of the presidential election lingering on article titles and upset statuses.

For those who have chosen to end such a fantastic year remembering all of the sour things that have happened, I am sorry for you. For those of you who have taken the blessing of another year lived and summed it up in lost celebrities, bitter resentment at the turnout of our election, and the dismissal of 2016 as "just not a good year", I am sorry for you.

Because you know what? You yourself have chosen to define this year in a negative way. You declared to the world that the bad things summarized your year instead of focusing on all the good.

Celebrities die every year. But you know what's even sadder? There are thousands of people who die every day. They have names, they have family, and yet the world instead sheds tears over those they don't even know personally. The election happened. The world will not end, destruction will not come, and if we chose to stand strong as united people, then all will be fine. And I'm sorry, but touting the whole year of 2016 as "just not a good year" is ridiculous. Says who?

For those who believed nothing good came of this year, here are a couple of bright accomplishments that I have found to be positive.

To start, the National Park Service turned 100! Happy birthday to you. The U.S. high school graduation rate reached a record high (83%, watch out world!). Patagonia raised over $10 million from Black Friday sales and donated it to grassroots organizations and local environmental charities. Talk about giving back! We had the Olympics in Rio this year, and shoutout to my fellow females, women won 27 out of the 46 gold medals won at the Olympics and we outnumbered men. Go estrogen! Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar for The Revenant. About time! Three states got rid of tampon taxes (Connecticut, New York, and Illinois), a step forward. We pay exorbitant amounts while Viagra gets off without paying taxes because it's "medically essential." Two brothers saw color for the first time, thanks to specially-designed glasses. Drinking coffee has been proved to help curtail suicide rates and cancer. In India, volunteers planted 50 million trees in 24 hours. A record 6 million homes now have solar power in California. The U.S. Army doubled the paid weeks for maternity leave to 12 weeks.

If you still chose to dub 2016 as "officially the worst year in the history of the universe" (how about all those years of war our nation went through??) and saying "2016 can end any time now", I hope you have a positive 2017.

Just remember, if you think positive thoughts, you will lead a positive life.

And if you made it alive to December 31st, then you definitely made it.

Our family chose to celebrate the close of another year at a dear friend's birthday, before enjoying the bubbly at home in front of the fireplace.

After racing home in the Tesla, we poured our glasses and cheersed to the new year. No better way to start than with some Veuve...

I had a glass of champagne in one hand, and a handful of kisses in the other. I may not have gotten a kiss under the mistletoe, or any New Year's kisses, but I did have a handful of Hersheys kisses and they were spectacular...

They were so good, in fact, that my dad and my cat tried to take them from me!

Happy New Year!