New Blog!

Cohesion of radical articles and visual restyling ideas. Check it out- you won't be disappointed!



New blog to launch soon!

A HUGE thank you to those of you who have followed or stopped by http://kalonity.blogspot.com. It has been a tremendously experimental work-in-progress. With your help, I've been able to work on developing a project that I think reflects my philosophy much more accurately, not to mention will provide more consistent, interesting content for you guys!

Therefore, I'm extremely excited to announce that I will be launching a new blog at the end of the month. It will be filled with unconventional styling ideas and reveal much of the creative process behind my work. A preview of what's to come:
  • What does "personal style" really mean?
  • The implications of fashion beyond clothes
  • A behind-the-scenes look at fashion designing
Check back soon! I will be posting the exact link around July 26th. In the meantime, you can reach me at tessazeng@gmail.com or leave a comment with any questions.

Keep inspiring,


A snippet of curiosity

An incredible amount of things have been happening, from up-and-close with ELLE editors at my school to existential epiphanies about the rest of my life's work. Working through them right now is like driving a tank through the mud. It's both very exciting and very frustrating!

I swear I'm going to utilize this blog more in light of some of these things.

Side-note- got the photo! Here is the crocheted wire dress I worked on at my internship with Sue Freda! Here debuting in New York City during fashion week.

But in the meantime, here's a little refreshing post from Gala's latest idea, Curious Tuesday!

It's tres simple- just comment with your answers to the following questions! It's a fabulous way to get to know my readers & each other, and share some laughs :)

1. What is the strangest compliment you’ve ever received?
2. What’s your little-known talent?
3. What do you obsessively search for on eBay?
4. When you were a child, who did you worship & want to be like?
5. What was your palate band? A.k.a. the band that got you off the Top 20 on the radio and opened up the music world for the first time!

Do share! My own answers are in the comments :)



On "Thinking Too Much"

If you are reading this, chances are that you are an intelligent individual who is capable of using his/her own mind. The odds are good, then, that you've heard these words, or some variation thereof, before:

"You think too much!"

Maybe someone said this, when you were indecisive or depressed for some reason. Possibly, the accusation came from yourself! This phrase, common as it is, has never been explained. It is merely tossed out as a reason for mental suffering. But we (and myself included, until very recently) have taken it at face value, and likely temporarily shut off our brains in agreement.

I'm writing today to say, NO! As Gala would say, stop the madness!!
There is absolutely no such thing as thinking too much.

Then how on earth, you ask, does one resolve these issues? When else can we do when nothing seems to make sense anymore?

The answer is not easy. It is not a magical sentence that will immediately solve all of your problems. But it can take you to incredible places if you let it.

The real source of mental suffering is thinking in the wrong ways.

I honestly believe what makes us go around in circles, hitting dead ends, and hindering action, is thinking ineffectively. This may be thinking negatively, or simply in focusing on the wrong things (more on this later).

See, for many years I myself complained of "thinking too much." I heard it from a million people around me, and consequentially I'd beat myself up for doing so, too. But about a year ago, I changed my philosophy. And ever since, I have reached entire new levels of enlightenment regarding my purpose in life, and my level of achievement has by no means dropped- in fact, I am more confident than ever in my ability to act in the future.

It is very tempting to turn away from the matter altogether. It is super easy to say "whatever, I'll just think about it later" (thanks, Scarlett!) It often takes great courage to admit the mental path we're driving down is wrong. It takes even more courage to actively pursue a different way of thinking. But the rewards you will reap are endless.

Of course, there are times when deadlines and actions won't allow as much leisure for thinking. I'm known among my friends for fat to-do lists. But all that is simply a matter of doing what you need to do. Every effective thought you have in the meantime will inform your actions positively, and will actually allow you to create greater works and carry out greater actions in the future.

This is by no means simple, and I can testify that such self-actualization is very, very difficult. But it is far more rewarding than to say "I'm thinking too much," every time on the brink of a mental block.

The process to figure out the "best" way of thinking for ourselves can be complex, and differs for everyone. There is no way I can write a post on what way is best for you, because only you can figure that out. But the next time you're about to throw your mind out the window, it might be helpful to consider the following:

1) Don't be afraid. Your mind can be crazy sometimes, but it is more helpful than you know. The human brain has practically singlehandedly solved the world's problems to date. Sure, there are lots of remaining ones, including the ones in your own life. But what makes them so different? The possibilities for solving them are endless, but I can promise not a single one involves fear of thinking.

2) Be positive. Negative thoughts are overwhelming, and complicate situations. Judge for yourself- Judy spends an hour thinking about how incapable she is of taking action, and Anna, confronted with the same situation, spends 15 minutes convincing herself that she can do it, then takes the other 45 to think through what she is going to do. Who is more effective?

3) What is the real problem? Sometimes, when we're angry or stuck, it's because we're focused on something we cannot control, like someone else's opinion or what the possible consequences of our action may be. These often get in the way of the bigger picture. As difficult as it might be initially, if you make it a point to think directly about the most important issues at hand, you'll find that it's much easier to come up with a solution.


(This was inspired by an article from The Positivity Blog, which I really respect and have been subscribing to for months. The latest piece of writing, however, dealt with how to "Stop Thinking So Much," and since this is really a subject that I am very passionate about, I figured it was time to put it into words.)

So please give me YOUR thoughts! There really is a reason I put this at the end of nearly every entry, you know :P

I know most blogs feed on comments like candy, but I am so interested in your individual way of thinking. It's both complicated and simple to explain, but I am genuine when I say that such motivation is one of my reasons for working and living!)



There are a number of things I could post about...

...from a recent photoshoot I styled, to thoughts on a NY Times article about interns as free labor. These things may come with time. But right now, all I can do is apologize for the long hiatus in posting, and offer as an excuse something that I cannot even yet disclose!

Am working on, among other things, something for a huge design competition. Let's just say that New York Fashion Week may be involved.

But what I can share are some thoughts.

After flying back home for spring break with nothing but a dress form, sewing machine, and supplies, then coming back and spending twice as much time in studio as sleeping for the last three days, this is what I have realized:

I could say that I'm dying of exhaustion. EXCEPT IT'S NOT REALLY DYING, IT IS LIVING TO THE UTMOST. I honestly believe that few things make you feel more alive than the moment in which you are slumped before your creation, body aching, mind stretched to its limit, and heart absolutely exploding because of the insane vitality that is only possible when you've sweat out every last drop of energy into trying to wrench brilliance out of absolutely nothing.

The first time I can remember feeling this way- when I painted this self-portrait years ago.

What makes you feel the most alive? I miss hearing from you guys. Give me your thoughts, recent accomplishments, the beautiful sparks that your minds are producing these days!



How THOUGHT can stand up to VIOLENCE: On V-Day

On a fashion note, I've been wearing this bow sideways for a few days now! Wear your headbands sideways (across the back of your head instead of over the top) to reinvent the ubiquitous accessory.

This was going to be a fashion week post, but there's been an intervention! I went to an incredible performance of the Vagina Monologues today, and in honor of V-Day, and everything it stands for, I wanted to draw your attention to a slightly different subject today: Stopping Violence Against Women!

V-Day was started as a movement against violence against women and girls across the globe, more than ten years ago. V stands for "Victory, Valentine, and Vagina." Far more than a purely fundraising or prevention effort, it has educated millions, and continuously fought for the rights of women to feel safe, beautiful, and powerful.

The beautiful centerpiece from our table, program, and a mint-chocolate pussy pop!

This production featured 16 volunteer actors, who read monologues written by actual women interviewed about their vaginas and experiences. Some of the stories were absolutely hilarious, from the "dominatrix sex worker" whose job was to elicit moans from other women (accompanied by on-the-spot demonstration of all the varying types of moaning) to the "72-year-old" who hadn't checked "down there" since 1954.

But the most powerful monologues were the stories about abuse, and more significantly- unspeakable sexual violence being conducted on a global scale. The emphasis this year is on the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a complete violation of human nature has been happening for 12 years. The kind of things happening over there are hardly comprehensible. 9-month babies raped....pregnant women slaughtered along with their premature fetuses...

What kind of 21st century are we living in, where this is allowed to happen?

How have I been so blind? Not only has this war been condoned for more than a decade, but the root of it is a battle for Congo resources that currently feed our modern technology. How many people in our country are aware that HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of women have been brutalized in the process of producing our cell phones?

No matter where you are in life, how old you are, or what country you live in: this is an issue cannot be ignored.

Personally, my work addresses the fundamental. I believe the most significant and long-lasting change is conducted at the foundational level. My personal work addresses the way people think, and eradicating ignorance. The very fact that such reprehensible acts are committed is a flaw in human thinking. The fact that soldiers, who are human and came out of their mothers' bodies, can participate in violating the most basic of human tenets- the dignity of existence itself- is, I believe, the most dangerous philosophical error that stands today.

The only thing that comes close is the ability of our developed nations, governments, and individuals to blatantly ignore the issue.

I am grateful to V-Day for bringing these issues to light, for me. And I wanted to share them with you all, in hope of raising awareness, and perhaps even inspiring someone to take action. We can all fight in our own way, be it speaking out for those in need, volunteering, or standing up for ourselves.

"When you bring consciousness to anything, things begin to shift."
-Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day

Other noteworthy quotes by Eve:

"We focus on fixing our bodies. We spend $40 billion a year on beauty products. What if we actually took that money, took that time, took that energy and started fixing the world?"

"Be bolder, speak louder, give everything. ...The door is open. It's as if we have one limb through, now if we can get our bodies through, it will never close again."


One of the best ways to begin is to be confident in your own selves! On a related note, I have started practicing Kundalini Yoga, which is a form of yoga about focusing the mind and honoring the self, engaging with a higher consciousness. It has been invigorating so far, after only two classes. I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance!

"May the long-time sun shine upon you.
All love surround you, and the pure light within you guide your way on."
-"Long Time Sun," traditional Irish blessing & ending song to every Kundalini class


Through self-empowerment, we become capable of bringing light to the world. Always embrace the potential within you! I may be an idealist, but if the world's thinking shifts even one individual at a time, I believe that even the most dire of problems will be dissolved.

Would love to hear what you all think on these important issues.



The mind-body relationship

Fashion is more than just clothes. I think most appreciators of the craft, and anyone who has given some thought to the matter beyond getting dressed in the morning, would agree. Certainly within the art/design world, and in the context of why I study apparel design, this definition of what fashion is not underlies everything.

But what is it, exactly? What does it have the capacity to inform, suggest, reveal? How does it specifically transcend bodily adornment and connect to the intellectual, even spiritual?

"If humankind eats what it is, it often thinks what it wears."
-S. A. M. Adshead

A huge variety of sources have been informing my thoughts lately... Fashion theory books, the latest shows, articles in my English/Medicine hybrid class on the way the mind-body dichotomy lessens the medical field's understanding of suffering, my own design work in the new semester...

The Fall 2010 presentations have produced some spectacular aesthetics spanning three cities thus far. Rather than try to encapsulate them all in this post, I'm going to go with this conceptual train of thoughts and highlight a few collections that have excited both visually and intellectually.

A purely aesthetic freight may follow in a day or two :)

- FALL 2010 -

Starting with the most recent....Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons! A designer I respect immensely, not only for her daring sculpural and asymmetrical moves, but for her highly developed thought-processes. She may leak only a word (or two, as Style.com is keen on pointing out), but the depth is always obvious here.

Described as "internal decoration," I can definitely see where she's going here. The odd shaping and collage of forms is not something you would ordinarily find on the body. Yet they aren't completely radical or futuristic in any way. The innovative yet organic feeling can be derived from something that is innately familiar- what's inside of us. Why should our skin get all the adornment, right?

Look at this incredible manipulation! Most designers would fall apart trying to put these together (no pun intended) in some cohesive way. But it's Kawakubo's intense vision and conceptualizing that carries the techniques.

An old exhibition catalogue I read lately highlighting the designer actually spoke about the "synthesis of comprehension and aesthetic" in Kawakubo's work. If only this marriage was more frequently discussed in the fashion industry!

The global-warming commentary provided by Charles Anastase isn't obvious from the get-go with these above looks, which is where I think he most succeeds. I admire his willingness to tackle the political on a higher level- through concept, this one being the mixing-up of seasons.

Some of his other designs were too literal, which didn't serve his clever idea or the eye. The fresh unexpected cuts expressed the unnatural blossoming much better than the blotchy prints or stifling ruffly poofs. And I like ruffles.

Ah, Rodarte. Their keenness of vision and unusual ability to realize their avant-garde designs always get me, if the romantic sensibility doesn't first. They dreamt up a series of sleepwalkers (pun intended this time) based on a trip to a border-city in Mexico. And that is what separates them from the pack. So many other designers would have simply stayed with the surface aesthetics and not even tried to push the concept further. I'm looking at you...and what's this? You again?

Anyway, the faint florals and quaint wrapping came together quite simply. I marvel at the unpretentious way such delicate and unique separates often look like they can just be pulled on. Did I mention I absolutely love the wrapping? And not just because I used a similar technique in my latest illustrated collection. Of course not.

Love. Something about swathing the body with such protective delicacy really suggests some kind of mind-body barrier, to me. Be it further separation, or an investigation of potential breaking-down of such barriers, is the in eye of the beholder.

Sorry about the infrequent posts lately! The spring semester just started last week, not that it's any kind of excuse for lack of inspiration. But I promise- more to come, soon!

In the meantime, please offer up any thoughts you have on the collections, and the nature of fashion at large! I hope I wasn't too abstract with my ideas in this post. Would love to hear what you guys think.



Fall 2010

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting New York during fashion week. While I didn't make it to any official shows due to time constraints, I did drop by a lavish event at the Waldorf-Astoria.

The gorgeous ceiling of the Grand Ballroom.

Called "Couture Fashion Week," this three-day queue of shows and exhibits isn't on the Mercedes-Benz-sponsored agenda, but rather produced independently, and featured miscellaneous artists and designers from around the world. By no means a paltry production- VIP tickets ran as high as five grand a piece- I attended because of my recent internship. My boss, Susan Freda, had been invited to create a sculptural wire dress (her specialty), and I'd spent weeks helping to develop and crochet the lace patterns that composed the piece.

I wasn't able to catch Sue's show on Saturday, but after a long morning bus ride & winding through the Valentine's and Chinese New Year-infatuated streets, I arrived in time to attend a show featuring Susi Hammer of Argentina, Prizy Sebastian of the USA, and the Korea Couture Design Collective.

To be honest, I felt that the designs were somewhat lacking. Most of the show wasn't that impressive, and it seemed like the focus of the overall production was high-end entertainment rather than the promotion of truly outstanding design. All I could think was that it certainly wasn't McQueen, but that is probably unfair.

In any case, there were some gorgeous pieces.

Very Prada-esque, don't you think?

This feathered/tulle ensemble by the Korea Collective was, hands down, my favorite piece of the show.

Suzi Hammer and her models.

...I didn't realize runway photography was so difficult! So often, the models breezed right by me before I could even focus the lens. Fortunately I was sitting second-row, so it made things a little easier.

It was an interesting experience, in the end. I will post photos of the wire gown from my internship when I get them!

Also, actual fashion week reviews to come!



Alexander McQueen

My visual tribute to him. Materials: prints, rose petals, tulle, markers, gold-plated wire.

So very little that I can say, and certainly nothing that can come close to what I feel. Indescribable, to wake up to the news of Alexander McQueen's death on the first day of fashion week. On a beautiful morning bright with sun and dreams.

He was one of my first major inspirations, if not the first. His Anglomania collection of tartans and lace captivated my naive mind when I was still grappling with the enormous concept of fashion that I stumbled upon in sophomore year of high school.

So much brilliance. What has the ability to counter that is something I don't even want to venture into, philosophically. It will have to be enough to say, that as I write this on my knees (unintentional, my chair happens to be elsewhere), that his vision has always been enough to make me fall to my knees.

The quote I scribbled at the bottom of the collage:

"What moves those of genius, what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough."
-Eugene Delacroix

Detail shots:

Oh, that peacock dress.

That passion.

He is missed, terribly. May he rest in peace.



My first couture wedding dress

...crafted from sustainable paper!

Photos by me; collage by Botanical Paperworks

Two months ago, I finished stitching together a mountain of plantable seed paper with cotton thread for my first semester's final project.

The prompt? To create a garment without using fabric, and with some kind of used or recycled material. Most students sourced old factory materials and waste products, and created all sorts of interesting confections from scrap vinyl, shoelaces, egg cartons, etc.

But reusing materials only go so far- eventually they would become waste after the final design. Thus, my mind started spinning in a different direction- how could I design without leaving any carbon footprint whatsoever?

Then I remembered an innovative packaging material I had once seen. A few years ago, when I worked for LUSH Cosmetics, they had created a limited edition gift box, and the packaging had been a biodegradable paper embedded with flower seeds.

All of a sudden, I got really, really excited about this material. So I sent out some queries. And to my delight, Botanical Paperworks, a company that creates this paper from 100% post-consumer waste for special-occasion stationery, agreed to sponsor my project and sent me a hundred 14x17" sheets of it!

And the Plantable Wedding Dress was born.

My presentation board/illustration.

Want to see the final dress? Botanical Paperworks blogged about my project and the final product here! You can also see more photos on my website. I'll keep you updated on whether it makes it into our annual fashion show in May!

What do you guys think? I would love to see a revolution of greener bridal wear, considering how many wedding dresses see the light of day once, then disappear into attics or closets forever!



CAP #2

First post of February- sorry I've been gone for so long!

In the meantime, I've given my first official interview (my last one was a little poetry feature in the local newspaper!) In it, I talk about what inspires me as a designer, and share some insight about working as a design student. You can read it here.

A big thank-you to Meggy Wang of Fashion for Writers for interviewing me!

As to the actual post, I wanted to write more on the concept of living at full CAPacity: Conscious, Active, and Passionate. A few weeks back, I initiated the topic by stating that many people search for ways to "live passionately," and offered up a few suggestions on how to strive for exactly that. Here is the second installment!

1) Let go. We all have a past. From that past, many issues may be following us into the present. Most of them might not even be relevant anymore, and manifest in the form of emotional baggage. Of course, some of us might have a little more to deal with than others (like the guy below).
If you think about it, yesterday's problems or the nature of your relationships to-date are exactly that- things you cannot control any longer. Nor can you control what exactly will happen in the future, no matter how much you plan. The only thing you can focus on is the present moment. Why not embrace that with everything you have, and let go of what might be tying you down unnecessarily? Being excited about what you have to do is so much better use of your brain space than worrying about or rethinking "could-haves."

It sounds easier said than done, but it is an extremely conscious decision to move on with your life on to bigger and better things. And isn't consciousness what CAP is all about?

If you let go of what is troubling you, you will be able to...

2) Decide what is important to you! In the bigger picture of your life, before you break it down into events and specifics, what matters the most right now? The last part might seem like a contradiction, but we are constantly evolving, even when we might think we understand our goals. So take it from your current standpoint, but expand the question to include as far as you can see.

Is it your personal evolution? Your relationships with those who matter the most to you? A need to help the world in some way or solve a particular problem? No answer is better than another if it truly resonates with you.

Then strive to bring this understanding into your present moment. Make an effort to hold the thought of what you would like to do or cherish in your mind.

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world." -Buddha

"We become like that on which our hearts are fixed." -Elbert Hubbard

3) Bring passion into everything. Since one of my major intentions for the year is about balance, I've been thinking a great deal about how to balance out my life, and yet retain the positive extremities. I came to the conclusion that in this context, you can choose to live in one of three ways:
  • Being really passionate in certain aspects of your life, and lackluster in others- thus, lack of balance.
  • Not really being passionate about any aspect- balanced, but obviously lacking in other ways
  • Striving to be passionate about every aspect- balanced with a purpose!
It might seem obvious, but I've realized that the most straightforward way to live passionately is to be passionate about everything. Think about the last time you felt truly energized, open, and devoted to what you were doing. What if you channeled a touch of that into everything on your to-do list, and each situation you encountered throughout the day?


What do you find most important when it comes to living consciously, actively, and passionately? I'd love to hear examples of how you've succeeded in making CAP a priority in your life!



Couture Week, so far

As a design student, I've realized that it is near-impossible to take even a day's break from your chosen medium!

I've been throwing myself into fashion-related endeavors, from creative directing costumes for the theatre production I'm currently involved in, to crocheting for a dress at my internship (for a NY fashion show!) Here, I took a little break...only to catch up on the couture shows!

S p r i n g 2 0 1 0 - H a u t e C o u t u r e

Josephus Thimister: Maybe the reason I like his stuff so much is because this is technically a Fall show. Spring collections have a ubiquitous airy feel that is beautiful, but can also be dull. His bloodstained pieces sometimes went overboard, but the above designs capture such subtle sophistication, and read as sinister without being overly dark. Not bad for someone who just took a hiatus!

Dior: Galliano has always been one of my favorites, but I haven't been thrilled with his work lately. He brought us the lingerie trend and still makes beautiful work, sure, but technical perfection isn't everything (and is more the work of his atelier assistants). I'm still waiting for his theatrical genius, which brought us this and this, to reappear in all its glory.

That said, there was some lovely asymmetrical sculptural pieces in this collection, one of his strengths of which I've always been enamored.

Elie Saab: Aside from the usual goddess gowns, these two pieces felt extraordinary to me. Color is expressed so whimsically in the left dress, and the printed textile looks quite labor-intensive. I would love to see someone wear these on the red carpet, but stars will likely opt for safer choices in the collection.

Givenchy: The most diverse collection yet! I love that Ricardo Tisci isn't afraid to play with organic flourishes, tailoring, feathers, and full-out lace jumpers under one aesthetic umbrella.

Alexis Mabille: Ah, but I was disappointed with most of this collection. I liked the last one so much that I think I was expecting more risk-taking and whimsy. These pieces feel safe to me, albeit exhibiting some very pretty fluidity.

Chanel: Much ado about silver is being made in the collection reviews. I for one am just glad he's eliminated black (a subject that will used in future blogging!), and that some of his work is truly gorgeous. Karl Lagerfeld is not undeserving of his fame, but a designer's worth is hardly measured in which metallic shade he currently favors.

All runway photos courtesy of Style.com.

Do I come off as too harsh? It's just that editing and integrity are so important in fashion design, and it baffles me when designers at the top of their game fall short of these principles. Couture is most exquisite and daring form of fashion. The level of economic and artistic responsibility these collections bear is truly enormous, and needs to at the very least be matched by output.

The above work gives me hope, though!

What are your thoughts on the recent collections?



Excerpts from le sketchbook

Updating my portfolio today... thought I'd put up a little bit of what I've been working on! They're not meant to be fully-realized or anatomically perfect, just a way to get my thoughts out.

It's all ink and pencil on paper :)


"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else."
-Emily Dickinson

Sometimes the days all wrap together and it seems like I'm always trying to play catch-up with my to-do list. I become, as a friend put it, like a product of my environment.

When that happens, it can be wonderful to take a step back and breathe, enjoy being in the present moment. Dickinson's quote, above, is one of my favorites. Would that we could always live like that, ready to be startled at any moment.



Some thoughts on creation and absorption

"Time not spent creating is wasted."

A friend expressed the above to me yesterday. And curiously enough, I've been thinking about the very same thing. A coincidence that may not make, but a blog topic? Definitely!

Snapped in the studio of one of my favorite artists, Leah Tinari.

As a full-time design student, I am literally creating things all the time for artistic projects. But creation is not limited to full-fledged or completed pieces of work! It does not have to be creative in the traditional sense. It doesn't even have to be tangible!

Think about it. Do you equate "creating" with drawing, writing, or making music? Do you see your own work as an act of creation?

I define creation as an act of conscious thinking with some kind of implication. I believe the majority of creation happens in idea form. To brainstorm for a project is just as powerful as working on it. In my own design work, I spend at least half the time working mentally aside from tackling anything on paper. This process is not only what leads to creation-- it is creation at work in itself.

Likewise, much of philosophical thought is also about creating. By delving into any intellectual issue, one inevitably creates at least a single opinion! Creating new angles of thinking is just as important as innovative design.

One major way to create, I've come to realize, is to actively absorb information. This could be from one's environment, other people, or media. To elucidate the difference-- just sitting in a movie theatre doesn't necessarily equal creation. But thinking about the film, subconsciously making connections to larger issues, and storing the visuals in the back of your mind to use for future inspiration-- now that is just as important as hypothetical or theoretical creation!

Books have long been my primary medium for information. When I am really engaged in reading, it feels on par with my deepest creative exploration. If you've never felt that way about a novel before, don't give up! I recently created my first Listmania on Amazon (took me long enough!). It is called "Intensely beautiful books" and consists of the novels that have changed and shaped my thinking since I was four years old.

What else encourages creation? Curiosity. Asking questions. Paying attention to people and surroundings. Making connections. Forming positive relationships. Thinking twice. Making it a point to do and experience something incredible through your individual, one-of-a-kind existence.

Because isn't that what life is all about?

I'd dearly love to hear what you guys have to say on this topic! How much time do you spend creating every day?



living at full CAPacity!

On http://43things.com (a fantastic goal-setting website that I encourage you to check out!), 5,576 people have declared that they want to Live Passionately.

Whew, that's a lot of people! But what is passionate living, anyway? To me, it means living consciously, staying active, and as a friend reminded me recently-- without fear. It is having the courage to engage with the outside world as well as the desires within you.

I've always been a sucker for acronyms. Since I'm hoping to make this a reoccuring post topic, I present to you CAP, which stands for being conscious, active, and passionate!

Here are some ways to fulfill your CAPacity:

1) Stay inspired. It might sound cheesy, but passion is like a fire that needs constant feeding. Also, inspiration IS all around you, but don't wait for it to come to you (contrary the myth of creative types sitting around dejected until inspiration strikes like lightning). Create inspiration for yourself!

I've been keeping an aesthetic inspiration book for more than a year now. It's a gorgeous thick-papered Canson that allows me to collage freely on its pages without fearing stains or buckling.
You can also make posters, cover your walls, buy a pack of glass-safe markers and scribble quotes on your windows-- anything that excites you!

2) Get up when the alarm goes off. Do you hit the snooze button three times, or set three different cell phone alarms (guilty!) to delay waking up just a littleeee bit longer? Try setting an audible alarm halfway across the room! Or commit to a sleep schedule! You can try Steve Pavlina's technique here. It worked for me in the summer, but I've found a more realistic approach is to sleep for relatively the same number of hours each night, regardless of specific times.

In any case, the way you start the day is so, so important, and affects your actions thereafter. If you're energetic and prompt as you rise, you'll be so much more uplifted and efficient throughout the day. If you greet the day with procrastination...you get the picture!

3) Know what you want. To me, this is hands-down the most important way to live consciously. It sounds simple, but so many people don't pay enough attention to this! How often do you ask yourself the following questions?
  • What do I want out of this situation?
  • Is this task/errand/phone conversation/relationship in my best interest?
  • Am I doing what I really want with my free time?
  • Am I heading in a direction that will make me happy?
You don't need to take it to an extreme and ask yourself every other minute, but taking some time every day to re-evaluate will revolutionize the way you live. Of course, you can always argue that you have no choice but to do x, or spend time with y. But you know what? You almost always do.

It just takes a little (or in some cases, a Lot) of courage! But isn't that what living passionately is all about?


Please let me know what you think! Should I continue these "CAP" posts?



That feeling

Whatever you want to call it- wonder, euphoria, or just the thrilling comprehension of possibility. For me, it is the closest feeling in the world. It's like the whole world sharpening around the edges, a photo coming into focus, human existence coming to a single point.

For me, these things (among a few others) trigger possibility. A possibility of being at once human and divine.

The way cats just know how to wait. And observe. And be, in supreme calmness.

"He doesn't want to rule the universe. He wants the universe to rule itself!" -The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Finding an old Wordpad document that simply reads: "The defense rests."

The poem when it comes out of your throat.
Especially when you haven't said a word.

That instant when seemingly unconnected thoughts suddenly converge. When the world hasn't exploded, or even moved perceptibly, but internally it is like lightning.

...Anything Regina Spektor, Nada Surf, or Andrew McMahon have ever breathed into reality. They're all songwriters, but one of these days I'll write about the books that have changed my life.


Dear Readers,

What makes you weak in the knees? Or fall to your knees?
Tell me about what makes you feel the most alive.



Either define "real woman"... or define "fashion"

"Why don't they look like us?" Thousands of magazine-reading women have cried out, and here's the editorial answer.

The latest from The Independent...

Professional models barred from German magazine
by Tony Paterson

The 29-year-old blonde teacher was among a cast of more than six "normal women" selected by the mass circulation middle-market Brigitte to pose for its January fashion feature following an editorial pledge by the magazine to keep controversial size-zero models off its pages.

Andreas Lebert, editor of the 700,000-circulation magazine, announced the ban last October after receiving letters from hundreds of women readers who complained that they had no connection with the models shown in the magazine and that they no longer wanted to see "protruding bones". He claimed that the models Brigitte used for years on its fashion pages were so skinny that editors had to "fatten them up" using Photoshop. "This is disturbing and perverse and what has it got to do with our real readers ?" he asked.

Brigitte launched its "normal women as models" campaign late last year and claims that some 20,000 of the magazine's readers have since put themselves forward as potential candidates. The magazine says that it pays its amateurs professional rates

The magazine's campaign has already provoked controversy. Karl Lagerfeld, the veteran German fashion guru, has described those who criticise so-called skinny models as "fat, chip-eating mummies" and claims that much of the objection to them is sheer jealousy. "Nobody wants to see a round woman," the 71-year-old designer insisted.

Full article here

I think we all need to step back and take a good look at the issue. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now.

On one hand, it makes sense. Anything in print is all about relating to the readers. I should think that most readers of Brigitte will be thrilled. I wouldn't be surprised if it provoked a trend in the magazine industry!

On the other hand, what are we trying to say about fashion? Magazines like Marie Claire and ELLE might be trying to promote lifestyle fashion, but ones like Vogue and iD are definitely more about fantasy, conceptual fashion. It's about fashion as an art form. Why else do designers try so hard to get into these top glossies? In any case, those high-fashion editorials should pull us away from reality, instead of trying to integrate more mundane aesthetics. If it's about inspiration, then the experience should be heightened and idealized.

As beautiful as ordinary women are, there's a Reason a tiny percentage of us are paid to model. It's not about models being idealized women, it's about them being idealized clothes hangers. You wouldn't decorate the museum gallery like a suburban living room to make it more "accessible." Unless that was the point.

Just like movies have professional actors and reality tv shows feature "real people," we have to be discerning here and not lump it all into the "fat vs. skinny" debate.

Please jump in here with your two cents!



Living fancifully, faithfully, and seeped in reality

My suitemate basically bought out F21! Feathers and bows galore. All of us have been wearing them, but none as crazily as me...

Thursday thoughts.

Not sure if I'm going to make this a weekly habit, yet. But just some stuff I've been mulling over, and fodder for thought and discussion. Some of these might get expanded into their own posts later on.

-When you think about it, our lives are a series of memorable events, connected by countless transitions. So which part should we focus on? The action or the thought? The process or the result? In other words, do we focus on the journey, or the stopping points? The dreams themselves or the work we do to get there? You see how complicated this gets.

-Why, exactly, is fashion so obsessed with animal imagery right now? I know I'm totally guilty of it (see above, & cat shoes in previous post photo).

-In this age of self-improvement, we have become interested in the calmness of zen and yoga, in structure and organization. Yet in the process of finding balance, I begin to fear eliminating the extremes altogether. Things like passion, madness, and frenetic energy... even dips into depression. As unsettling and detrimental as they can be, how can one thrive artistically without them? How can one experience life to the fullest?

-Speaking of balance, can we find a specific co-existence between determinism and free will?Most people these days seem to believe in aspects of both. And what about predeterminism? (More on this later).

-The possibility of romance in a predominantly female school environment. Har, har. Hopefully many of you don't share this predicament.


Here are more aesthetics to throw into the mix. Just so you don't think all I've done this week is think....ha!

My favorite headband of the bunch.

Best appetizer ever. Silken tofu inside a crispy exterior.

Our friend's beautiful bedspread & pillow.

What do you think? What has been tying your brain into knots this week? (Now there's some lovely imagery).