Saturday, March 9, 2013

"I had other goals...

...but I accomplished those." - Lady Blue

I have high standards for just about everything because I want to feel GOOD. When I settle, I feel everything but. I guess that's why I've been so picky with... Well everything lately. Because I want to feel good when I wake up in the morning, and even better when I lay my head back down at night.

What it feels like to have your eyes opened. [Painting by Logan Hicks]

It was eye-opening to realize I could truly design my life and be in charge of how I felt on a day-to-day basis. I hated commuting during rush hour, so I stopped. Any task or chore I was avoiding, I just outsourced. And if I wanted to have popcorn for dinner or take a nap in the middle of the day, I would do it and feel no guilt. Who is keeping score anyway?

I now know that the things I truly desire are achievable and within my grasp. Why? Because I make my needs a priority, and don't care in the slightest what others think about me living my life that way. I'm a law-abiding citizen and an earnest and pleasant person who treats others with respect, but people have their place in my life. And their place is one that is not allowed to regulate, or make me feel guilty or bad about the things that make me happy. [And it's as easy as: healthy food makes me feel better so I prioritize buying it, I like high quality things because they last longer or provide a better experience so I put aside money to purchase them without a whole lot of hand-wringing, I wake and sleep when I want to, I say no often knowing that someone else will find it to be a better fit, and I say yes with glee and excitement when it feels right.]

It takes strength and conviction to “Do you”, and even though I'm as strong as they come, I'm human, and I've had doubts. My most prominent and recurring doubts have been related to my career. You see, my life consists of lots of realizations and epiphanies about how to live my best life and especially about how to catapult my career. [Why just my career? "I had other goals, but I accomplished those.” - Lady Blue] I'm admittedly obsessed with achieving my version of success [preferably by age 30], and it's something I constantly think about. It's hard to know how well you're doing and if you're on the right track by observing the people around you because they masterfully hide their struggles. You end up wondering if your constant bloopers are a sign that it just won't happen for you, when the truth is, everyone else is just showcasing their highlight reel, and people are hesitant to share all the ways in which their ideas didn't work.

Imagine walking into a dark room, only to see this when you look up. 
The sky is the limit. This is bigger than me now.

I saw other people with half the talent [and to be frank, half the looks] “succeeding” and I started to feel a slow burn of frustration and resentment. Then one day it just hit me... “I'm not getting the recognition I deserve and I'll never get it unless I change something.” I realized I couldn't be the quiet girl in the corner anymore... the shy girl in the corner isn't get paid. And she isn't get paid because she's invisible. And if she's invisible... ain't nobody checking for her. [cue Quadron's “Unpatience”]

Yes, that is my long ass, hood-tinged analogy and you will just have to deal! On March 30th of this year, my blog will be four years old. A toddler. A potty trained one, that can read and speaks in full demanding sentences. Gawd Bless. Anyway, over these past few years I've learned a lot about entrepreneurship and my writing has gotten better and better [as well as snarkier and snarkier] with every new blog post – this blog is my 300th [and no I didn't plan that!]

I started Elle B. Consulting last year and while I don't regret it, I still felt more connected to this blog than I felt to my business. Although dealing with people can be a pain in the ass, I had already determined that I wanted to be a boss more than I wanted to be an artist, so I thought it was the right move. And all things considered, I'm doing well for myself, I'm just ready to focus on what I really want, which is getting my blog and my writing the recognition it deserves.

Blogging here has been a great experience that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. It's super heartwarming to know that here lies a little space I carved out for myself, and that people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. Over the years I've gained a few faithful readers, I've been given tips and advice and pointers, and I've let all that stuff, good and bad sink in. I decided that the blog needed a boost, because for one, it's no longer just a blog, it's a brand. I'm a brand. And I didn't do that. Y'all did.

I'm going to work on bringing that concept to life [in fact, I've already started working with a team - !!!]. All this time I've been looking outside and elsewhere to find my true passion – I sought out collaborations, I started my consulting company - when it has been right here, right under my nose the whole time. My blog, that I have faithfully committed to for four years now. If this isn't love, I don't know what is.

I'm so nervous I could faint, but it's time to make that love shine and spread it all around.

The photos below are candids I took after doing a mini photoshoot on Thursday. I'm proud to say that:
A] I did my own makeup! and B] #TEAMNOFILTER.

"Oh you was watchin'?! Who the fuck wasn't..." 
From Christian Dior Denim Flow - Kanye West with Kid Cudi, John Legend, Pusha T, Ryan Leslie, and Lloyd Banks [phew!]

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Latest Likes

Read on for this week's compilation of things that held my interest:

NYC loves quirky curly-haired girls!
Yeah yeah. I'm just getting into this show like a bazillion years after it left the air. Whatever. I'm not a big TV watcher, but I also didn't realize this show was set in NYC [while the main character attends a school modeled after NYU] - the location and “college experience” being the only reasons I decided to tune in to it now via Netflix. It's cute. Felicity is your average, pretty-ish, brainy awkward chick, and Ben and Noel are good-looking and endearing in their own ways. I'm sure I can read all the spoilers to figure out what eventually happens, but for now I'll just patiently watch.

These cupcakes are pretty much close to perfect. They are precisely moist and are outfitted with a proportionate layer of frosting that isn't tooth-achingly sweet. Red Velvet is of course a popular favorite here, but I don't fuck with that dessert too tough because let's face it, it's nothing but red food coloring. I prefer the vanilla on vanilla, and it's just right.

American Horror Story: Murder House
OH. FUCKING. KAY. Again, I know I'm late, but who cares. This show is wild as all hell... it was gory, tragic, poorly/incredibly acted and completely campy at times... yet I couldn't turn away. I watched the entire first season in one sitting, and after every single episode caught myself saying "What the fuck?!" Moira the maid was a genius plot device and Tate - the true monster of the show - was incredibly written and portrayed. And I can't forget Constance, whose blunt honesty you hate to love. You should watch this show for those three alone. Some episodes were especially hard to watch: episode 6 "Piggy Piggy" and episode 10 "Smoldering Children" gave me some serious stomach pains. The finale left much to be desired, but the rest of the season delivers.

Speaking of more TV!!! Enlightened just wrapped up its second season this past Sunday and man... what a heck of a show. It centers around a bunch of elements I don't particularly care about [corruption within corporations, healthy living kooks], but the acting is superb, especially Laura Dern's portrayal of Amy Jellicoe... who is heart-achingly cringe-worthy in almost every scene she's in. My favorite is when she goes from righteous do-gooder to shrieking mad-woman right before your eyes, which she does, often. It tugs at the heartstrings without making you feel corny and it makes you think without beating you over the head with affirmations or life-changing lessons. Well done, Mike White [who plays the lonely and boyishly shy Tyler and also writes the show].

The East Village 'The Smith' - steps away from Union Square

The Smith
I first saw this restaurant mentioned in a friends Facebook feed. The menu sounded great, so when the time came, me and my newest girlfriend Danielle decided to check it out. Four hours, a drink, a meal and a dessert later and we were beyond satisfied. The food is a nice twist on American classics, everything tasted just right, and the ambiance was sparse yet urbane without seeming too bare or pretentious. As expected, it's slightly on the pricy side, but that hasn't stopped me from adding it to my list of faves. I am a baller, after all.

Theresa Duncan & Jeremy Blake
Two attractive and well-to-do NYC artists, both with considerable achievements, take their own lives a week apart from each other in July of 2007 [just weeks before I moved to the city]. What drove them to do it? Scientology, gangstalking, and CIA take some of the purported blame. I stumbled across the intriguing story of “The Golden Suicides” after learning that a Law & Order show was inspired by the deceased couple. After reading tons of articles and opinions on the pair, I have my own theory as to how it all came crashing down. Occam's razor comes to mind – the first thing I thought of - besides narcissism - was the potential abuse of hallucinogens. Drugs, combined with paranoia and entitled narcissism, possessed in full by the matriarch of the relationship: Theresa Duncan, is my guess. I believe she killed herself because her life wasn't keeping up with her delusions, the story she told others, her persona; and she felt at near 40 that time was running out. She was smart enough to deflect and blame Scientology - an external variable known for reprehensible and questionable practices - and most people fell for it. Jeremy whose career was flourishing, was the "Echo" of the relationship, and he obediently followed despite all he had going for him. Fascinating stuff, but with a simple and conclusive motive.

L.A.M.B. Oxley Pumps
Although they don't show off any toe cleavage in the way that I'd hoped, these shoes were way worth the dozen or so Jacksons I laid down for them. At 4.5 inches, they are the highest heel I own, and the blue crocodile-esque leather was an eye-catching must. Plus they look like pure sex on my feet, and after years of buying cutesy shoes littered with bows and glitter, I was desperate for something more grown. This shoe effortlessly fits the bill.

Gala Darling's Blogging Tips
Don't get me wrong, she annoys me, and I still can't fight the nagging feeling that she's a complete fake [I don't buy the sugary princess “I'm so happy and full of virtuous glee!” shtick she extolls so faithfully on her site – plus I had a meeting with her once, and it didn't go well] but homegirl is THE lifestyle blogger/brand poster child. She took that glittery cupcake persona and bodied that shit, even going so far as to changing her name from the kinda regular Amy Pappe to the infamous 'Gala Darling' that she regales us with now. I have to admit, for that fact alone? Swag. With all that being said about her positives, she's obviously one to listen to when it comes to stepping up your blog game. I didn't learn anything new from her tips, it was just a good reminder of what I needed to do on some fronts – like, get organized and add new features ["my latest likes" being one of them]!

Trader Joes S'mashing S'mores
A week or so before buying these, it dawned on me that I hadn't eaten a s'more in years. And I thought to myself "Well, why the hell not?” So when I saw these at Trader Joe's, it was like a sign from GAWD to buy and consume ASAP. I pop em in the microwave for a few seconds, and I'm telling you, after that goodness hits my tastebuds, it's like a few seconds of fireside bliss.

My Latest Likes in Music:
"I follow rivers" - Lykke Li [All versions!]
"So much betta" - Janet Jackson
"Midnight City" - M83
"Supposed to grow old" - Justin Nozuka
"Drugs" - Lil Kim

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Finding my Tribe

I have a personality that thrives on accomplishment. When I feel I've mastered something or achieved excellence in a certain category - I enjoy the five minute buzz - then immediately turn my attention to what's next - the next necessary element in my life that is "missing".

And considering that I'm conventionally attractive, stylish, brilliant, and completely independent with my own fab place and my own flourishing career endeavors – there was only one category that seemed to be lacking:

Friendships. Connections. Buddies. Pals. Girl friends. Guy friends. Comrades. Allies.

As an extrovert who gets her energy from being around others [a cross I have to bear since I feel most people are *cough* MORONS], connection and interaction are important to me. They have always been important to me, and for some reason I seem to attract and befriend hoards of introverts who never seem to fully understand that desire. [I love/hate all of y'all by the way!]

I have plenty of friends. But it had been a while since I'd made any new ones, and I'd learned a lot since my last few buddy blossoms and crash and burns. Besides, when I really took a look around, I realized I had no NYC-based* friends who shared my same interests or who were around my age. And that was a problem. One that made me feel ridiculous in a city of over 8 MILLION people. Eight million inhabitants, and I was feeling like a lonely anomaly? Get the fuck outta here.

'Find your tribe' was something I read in "If you have to cry go outside" by Kelly Cutrone along with 'The No Matter What Club' mentioned in her second book "Normal gets you nowhere" [interesting books by the way, but both were far too short]. It not only meant find your groove and your niche, but find your people. The folks on your wavelength. The folks who will give you love and support, who genuinely understand you and have your back. And the search seems frustrating and hopeless sometimes, but people like that are out there. The world is so big that they have to be, trust in that. And if I, someone who has little to no faith in the general public can believe that, then anybody can.

Putting a call out for friends was not only courageous [and apparently a little abnormal], it was also difficult. It wasn't easy to sort through those emails and determine why, for one odd reason or another, I knew this person wasn't the right fit. Or why that one was only kinda what I was looking for, if I could just ignore all that other stuff. Or why this other one read my requirements all wrong. Or why that one took “unicorn” all too literally. Or why this one saw "mother/life guide/babysitter" in place of "friend".

I've gotten super sharp at identifying my kind of people – and reading through those eager responses just reminded me how good I've become at pinpointing these individuals. My perception is so sharp these days, sometimes it seems I'm psychic. It took years of hanging out with all the wrong people and a few more years of letting go of others who were close but still not quite right – but hey, I got here.

It was never easy to reply to a giddy response with “I'm sorry, I just don't think we're the right fit”, but it was necessary. I had wrangled with enough pity in the past, I had had my fair share of unevenly yoked relationships, and I knew in my heart that I no longer had the energy, the room, or the time for alluh that! 

Not only had I grown into a put-together young woman, but I no longer thought it impossible to have what I wanted... which included strong bonds with similarly minded, equally put-together young adults - the kind of friendships I'd always craved.

X-Men, as usual, had it right!
I like my people brilliant, layered, rich with thought and experience. Maybe a little rough around the edges, and tested by time. Yet I like those who are open, those who aren't completely worn down by the effects of poor decisions or consumed by the ills of the world.

I adore sincerity, unique quirks, people with a frankness about themselves and the inequities and intricacies of life. I like when someone has a warmness to them - a well of kindness sitting right in the middle of their chest - a sweetness that can never be artificially replicated for the flavor always skews slightly off.

I like people with heart and passion, people with wit and brains... people who are easy to love and admire. That is who I'm drawn to because that is who I am.

[Yes, I'm a cocky bastard who doesn't understand opposites attracting, who only values those who swag their way into my mind and heart, but we all knew that by now. Get with it or get lost. This blog is nearly four years old, you better act like you know!]

I know plenty of these people now [most of whom I met in these past few weeks!], and I'm so glad that I never stopped looking for them. Cheers to 2013, and moving upward and onward, with my crew in tow.

*I've seen a lot of friends come and go as New York is a very transient city, a mecca for the young and ambitious. But NYC is home to me – and it will always be. This city just gives me what I feel no other place can, so it was important to find friends who for the time being, felt the same.

Now playing: "Started from the Bottom" - Drake [PS - I can't get enough of this song!]

Monday, March 4, 2013

Team No Sleep

Tired of you - Joanne Young

I could never get behind "team no sleep" - a team that apparently only operates on Twitter. I need nine hours of sleep every night to feel decently alive the rest of the time. I've always known this but it hit me hard this past week when I couldn't stop my mind from racing one night and ended up getting 2-3 hours of interrupted sleep. The next day, although I was cranky and exhausted, I decided to do 3.5 bags of laundry [one whole bag of which I sorted and donated]. Then the next morning, after another sleepless night, I went grocery shopping which resulted in me carrying 5 full-to-the-brim bags of Trader Joe's goodness home. But that's not all! After I came home, unloaded and put away all that stuff, I decided I wanted to rearrange my apartment and clean it from top to bottom. Okay?! It's like I was in the midst of some sleep-deprived maniac hysteria. FOR TWO WHOLE DAYS. I also wrote like mad and did a bunch of reading and research.

So then, due to all that sleep deprivation and overworking my mind and body... what had happened was... I lost my voice. And I ended up not only having to cancel a Friday morning brainstorming meeting I'd been looking forward to all week, but missing a photo shoot I had scheduled for Sunday because I again, couldn't sleep the prior night and started feeling cold-like symptoms in the morning [unfortunately, so did my photographer]. To add insult to injury, I still am unable to say a damn word! And my streak of shit sleep is just continuing, as I am putting the finishing touches on this blog post at 5somethingAM.

Upon closer examination, I realized that I lose my voice at least once a year. Sheesh.

So two things:

1] I think what I'm feeling is resistance. Granted, I didn't get much rest... but why was my mind racing to begin with? There are lots of changes on the horizon, and even though I'm excited to be moving forward, there's always that tiny part of me, as a human, that just doesn't want to shake things up. By hiring a PR professional to assist me, not only am I saying "I'm truly ready to take my career to the next level" but I'm also committing myself to months of work... months of potentially putting myself right in the middle of many out-of-my-comfort-zone situations. And I think that freaked me out. And the photo shoot? I mean, I've done two already and you guys have never really seen the pictures. Not only am I neurotic about how the photos may turn out, but I'm famously and obviously uncomfortable in front of the camera. You think I'd be able to relax since I trust and adore my chosen photographer, but I still caught myself having a mini panic attack the morning of. I'm recognizing now that all those changes and challenges - in one weekend at that - were possibly too much for my psyche. But fuck it - that doesn't mean I'm going to press pause on things. I'm going to press on and push through because that's what I do. That's how I got here, you dig?

2] I believe in balance. People who pride themselves on getting through the day with just a few hours of sleep are silly at best and delusional at worst. Everybody is different... some folks actually do fine on 4-5 hours of sleep, and that's cool, although I still don't believe it's healthy. Others need 8 hours - or more than that - complete with a cat nap or two littered throughout the day [*raises hand*]. It's important to take care of yourself. Don't pay #TeamNoSleep any mind - they probably don't even have real jobs. Eat well, sleep well, calm yourself and never let resistance take over. That complacent bitch is just another crab trying to crawl out of the barrel in an effort to sabotage your dreams.

Now playing: "Samba Tranquile" - Thievery Corporation