On wednesdays, we wear pink

Yo, yo, yo beauty cats!

Today, I am PUMPED UP.

I am buzzing with inspiration, and love, and just general bonkerness.

This morning I, along my very glamorous, and gem of a genius colleague J, went to a leadership panel at the Vancity Theatre, where we heard six different talks from a brilliant buffet of speakers: they were athletes, intellectuals, doctors, storytellers, and demographers.

Seriously, these individuals were fascinating as they were diverse: ranging from Trevor Linden, ex-Canuck extraordinaire, to Dr. Samantha Nutt, the founder and executive director of WarChild Canada and US.

Hey! It's that Clearly Contacts guy!

What a collection of neat people.

Phew.

I know I often write about the inordinate number of injustices I perceive, (or hear about, or read about) – on a daily basis at that, and I know I am wont to chronicle about how this overwhelming tide of negativity can be pretty difficult to fight against, (particularly day in and day out)– but just sitting there, and listening to all of the speakers, allowing their passion, and humour, and dedication, and eloquence to just wash over me – heck, it really made me think that we just might make it out of this out-of-control space-ship-cum-wrecking-ball of a planet alive.

And kicking!

(Well. Maybe.)

It all may depend on the subject of Al Gore’s next documentary.

(I kid, I kid.)

And if we don’t survive?

And we are all exploded into millions of tiny particles of space dust because no one bothers to recycle their toasters, or throw out their bubble tea cups, and instead just stashes their Subway wrappers in university pruned bushes and other miscellaneous vegetation?

Well, I plan on looking darn stylish in the process of said annihilation.

And, why is that exactly might you ask?

Because, ladies and gentlemen…I did it!

May I present to you, my two favourite clothing purchases of 2012:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Hot damn.

The excitement around these parts (aka coursing around the length of my body) is palpable.

PALPABLE!

I cannot begin to explain to you all how excited I am to wear both of these pieces. Maybe not together (at least not to the office), but all day, and every day, I will don this as my warrior dress, as I kick ass and chew bubble gum.

And folks, I’m all out of bubble gum.

Okay, in all seriousness, I have really been trying to make conscious choices when it comes to my fashion purchases. This works rather well with the fact that I have a very hard time breaking away from the “student” mindset when it comes to buying, well, anything really.

I want to make sure that whatever it is I am purchasing, it will be something that I will wear and get good use of, as well as being as ethically responsible as possible.

It can be a hard balancing act, and I am by no means perfect, but I am working on it.

At the root of it all, I just want to understand where my clothing is coming from, who is profiting off my purchase, how well the product will benefit myself as a consumer, and (of course) first and foremost: ask myself – do I actually need it in my life?

Now, I could argue that I don’t actually need 99% of the stuff that I buy – I become more and more aware of this issue every time I walk by a store, or through a shopping mall.

But I hope that, at the very least, by just asking these questions, I am making some sort of impact, or progress – that it is the catalyst for a slow building, slow moving change, even if just in my life.

A change of one.

And if it can grow from there? Well then, that’s just perfect.

As two quick post-scripts, let me share with you two of my biggest laughs (or gaffs?) of the day:

I was an overzealous coffee pourer at the speaker’s panel. Can you tell I was a tad tired this morning?

Java moat.

And, prices advertised by Flight Centre:

Good marketing there folks. Fine print is pretty crap though.

WOW, this flight is only $29.00?! But taxes are $600.00?

Well shit.

Looks like I’m riding my bike to Europe.

She works hard for the money

On days like today, when the weather gods and goddesses are smiling down on the fair (or otherwise) inhabitants of Southwest BC, there is a tree visible from my office window.

Standing alone, its branches spindly and ramrod, reaching for the heavens, it glows golden, as though kissed by a rogue ray of sunshine – it has been set aflame.

Glow little tree, glow with all your might!

It’s a spectacular sight to behold, and one I so often miss on days dominated by cloud cover and rain.

In an attempt to jazz up my work days, I have been making an attempt to incorporate more pretty things (most of which are predominately dresses) into my weekly wardrobe.

Another factor playing into this decision was my (still current) self-imposed restriction on purchasing new goods – this ban has been making it harder and harder to recycle my most tried and true outfits. For real, there is a limited number of times I can wear my pink cable-knit sweater before my skin will end up permanently dyed rose, and my skin tattooed with that unmistakable braid pattern.

Eep.

Plus, I have a pretty solid collection of frocks that don’t see much action outside of weddings and fancy events, which unfortunately can be few and far between in the winter months. Just seeing them in my closet makes my heart skip a beat – I’m not one to purchase things willy-nilly. If I buy it, it means that I like it. 

I like it a lot. 

A closet dominated by “work” clothes. Don’t worry, I’m a champ with the iron.

I am also not ashamed to admit that during the long stretches of time where I don’t have a chance to wear these beautiful outfits, sometimes it can be pretty fun to play dress up or have an impromptu fashion show, trying out different shoe-dress combinations – whether I’m on my own, or I’ve gotten M to act as my audience or critic.

(Mostly audience, sometimes critic.)

Yet, to be honest, getting into this new work-fashion grove was a little harder than I thought.

I was really nervous to even try it out.

Why, exactly was this, might you ask? I asked myself the same question.

It has been pretty darn interesting to sift through the many reasons that I found this decision to be much more of a challenge than I’d originally imagined it to be, particularly when it came down its execution.

It was not just a simple change of clothing to me.

I should stress that it wasn’t the opinion of colleagues or random passersbys that played into this aversion (in fact, I receive wonderful, reassuring, reactions, not to mention blush-inducing compliments every time I have donned a new outfit) – at the root of it, it was me.

Mostly I was afraid of looking like I had mistakenly showed up to a corporate workplace, instead of my intended destination (high tea with the Queen of England – aka Helen Mirren) after having taken that wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Or you know – that I was ten years old.

But mostly, and here I am a bit ashamed to even type out the words, I think I was afraid that the more feminine I dressed, the less likely I would be taken seriously – at the different lunches I go to, presentations I give, meetings I attend, interviews I conduct.

I am much younger than many of my colleagues, and I find that I often make myself hyper aware of this fact.

I put myself on edge, feeling as though I have to prove that, despite my age, I am a bloody rock-star at my job.

As such, if I dress too “womanly,” (combined with my obvious youth) I might command less respect, whereas when I dress “manly”, I have already knocked down one barrier (whether it be real or not – at least in my current position.)

Now, I understand that in reality, in my current situation, this hypothesis is most likely total crap. Assigning a gender to my clothing choices, and then evaluating my job performance (or at least how others may perceive, and therefore assess my performance) is pretty ridiculous.

However on a macro level (and micro for many, many others), both age and sex are two huge factors that negatively impact an individual’s professional success.

(I am also aware that the age factor is also a problem as you reach the other end of the scale.)

So it’s interesting to note, that while I am not in a position myself to be harmed by these attitudes, I have already internalized them, rendering an outsider’s imposition of them onto me a moot action.

In one word this is completely crazy.

One of the dresses I was originally too afraid to wear to work.

I’ve worked with enough people to understand that confidence in your abilities, coupled with a stellar work-ethic and solid output outweighs whatever outfit you may or may not be wearing on any given day – particularly if you present yourself as a professional, put-together individual.

And yet I stress over whether or not a beautiful, semi-formal dress, coupled with a cardigan/suit jacket and flats would somehow strip me of my professional legitimacy.

Thinking about this has really tripped me up, and opened up many other questions.

For instance:

When I wear a suit to work (specifically if I wear it with a tie, as I often do) and I doing so because I like the aesthetic of the outfit, or am I subconsciously trying to fit a preferred mould (aka presenting myself as a “male” somehow legitimizes my position?)

Or, am I able to just write it off to nothing more than the fact that I have always been attracted to men’s clothing, and because I am tall and lanky, this style of wardrobe works particularly well with by body type?

Or, at an even simpler level, am I just nervous of overdressing at work? As much as people may dislike the chronically underdressed, those who show up daily, ready for a black-tie formal, rarely escape criticism either.

At the root of it, I know this:

I first and foremost pride myself on presenting myself as a professional.

I just need to remember that first and foremost I am a professional.

For the best day of my life

Hi friends,

As a palette cleanser from my last post, I would like to offer you a portrait of some of the incredibly rad ladies who populate my life, who not only accept me for my bonkers self, but who make me at least sixty-five percent less likely to blow a rage-out gasket and/or move to Baffin Island for a life of solitude and frost-bite.

Last week whilst I was out to lunch (there’s a double meaning in there somewhere, I’m sure of it) my mother phoned and left me the most heart-warming, highly comedic voice mail that perhaps has ever been recorded.

It went something like this:

Okay, let me explain why this photo of my mom is one of my favorite ever (she's the one all in black with the hood) A hurricane arrived just as my cousin was set to wed, so my mom went in her rain gear and helped keep everyone under control. Awesome sauce.

Hi there. You’re probably out somewhere, trying on clothes and taking photos of yourself, you weirdo. Just wanting to chat and I’ll try to you again later. Bye!

Holy smokes. This nearly bowled me over when I listened to it.

And while I wasn’t out skulking around my favourite fashion haunts, just knowing that this is what she pictures me doing on my lunch breaks not only cracks me up, but fills me with such a simple, sublime happiness, I could probably power a small household appliance (or at the very least, a key-chain flashlight) from the wattage of my smile alone.

Love you mom!

Today, along with of my two lovely coworkers, A and J, I ventured out at lunch in search of food-truck treats and a reprieve from the cloying warmth that has infiltrated our otherwise freezing office space. Seriously, the place is normally plagued by random frosts and sub-zero temperatures. Brutal!

Unfortunately, the establishment we were hoping to buy from had a 1+ hour wait (for a grilled cheese from a van? Outrageous!) so we decided to try out the Philly cheesetake cart and its offerings.

This, in retrospect was not the greatest choice, especially on my end – I don’t know whose idea it was to put fried onions, processed cheese and thousand island salad dressing on top of French fries AND THEN MARKET IT, but having tasted that vile concoction, I believe it should probably be banned in all ten provinces, and three territories.

Bletch.

A and J were wonderful in so far as they didn’t mercilessly mock me (when it could have been oh-so-easy) on my choice of food (and in my defence let me say I didn’t know the cheese would be processed and that the “secret sauce” would be the dressing equivalent of a bloody archipelago), nor did they take the piss out of me when they saw what said “meal” looked like.

Their food wasn't much better but at least there was no salad dressing to be found.

I kind of wish I had a picture to post on the blog, but at the same time I really don’t need to be reminded of that hot mess of a plate for the discernable future (aka for the rest of my life.)

These two ladies are brilliant, and beautiful (both inside and out) and make my days at work (especially the ones where my stress level is ratcheted up to eleven) considerably less overwhelming. Plus they can turn a lunch populated by long-line ups and tasteless gruel into a fun, funny outing where conversations range from the etymology of the word ma’am, to the absurdity of men’s couture fashion.

Because that stuff is just darn bizarre.

Finally, while I am not intimately acquainted with these women (in fact, I not acquainted with any of them in any sense of the term) I have had the opportunity to watch many of the Olympic Women’s Qualifying Soccer (erm – Football) Tournament and it has been awesome! Sure, the talent disparity between many of the teams exists, and has been evidenced by quite a few blowouts (mostly from the hands of the highly-skilled, incredibly fit American team) but I have really enjoyed watching the different teams play and interact with one another.

Now, you can ask anybody and they’ll tell you that I have been that big of a soccer fan – in fact I’ve lived the majority of my life with a never-hidden (and often voiced) aversion to the sport, but I feel as though this tournament has somehow completely erased this condition and replaced it with a healthy need to learn more, watch more, and maybe even play a game or two (I just need to get over my fear of headers. They scare the crap out of me.)

Our tickets on our, erm, colourful cork board.

I was supposed to go to two games last Friday, but alas the terms of my illness dictated that I couldn’t leave the confines of my living room, wrapped in a blanket, plunked down on the couch.

However, Mr. M and I will be going to the finals this coming Sunday and I am very excited to see the game live, and gather energy and inspiration from the passion, teamwork and dedication on display from these remarkable women.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (and again, and again) – the power of sport is something to behold, and the way it brings together such a vibrant mix of people, from disparate countries and cultures serves as terrific reminder of the beauty and strength inherent to humanity that is so often lost among the folds of everyday life.

So thank you to the competitors, the dynamic duo that is Ms. A and J, and of course my answering machine comedienne mom. You, and all the other strong, stimulating women in my life help me breathe and believe.

Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxing all cool

Tonight I am exhausted.

I have my health regime down to a tea.

Having been quite sick for most of the last week, my energy is at an all time low. Normally I can kick it pretty well after about a day or two of an illness, but this blasted flu has really dug its claws in deep.

I feel as though my sinuses are in a vice that has been set on “death grip.”

That, and the fact that my nose is dripping for all of Canada. It’s like I have a leaky tap attached to my face.

I really hope my cat doesn’t start to hydrate herself from my nostrils as I sleep (uneasily at best), thinking that I actually have transformed into some kind of human-malfunctioning-faucet hybrid.

(If you’re reading this Uwe Boll, I don’t give you permission to take this idea and turn it into a movie. Just walk away now.)

Our kitty doesn’t do well at the vet at the best of times and I really don’t want to have to take her in due to massive mucus ingestion.

The embarrassment of the explanation alone might destroy me.

So as you can imagine, all in all, this whole sickness experience has been, for lack of a more poetic term, bloody lovely.

(Let me assure you.)

(Erm.)

Anywho, despite my all-encompassing-entire-body lethargy, M and I went and had dinner with some brilliant friends this evening.

My sister in-law is in town from the Big Apple, and we had dinner with her and her parents, and her three nephews.

At one point every single person in the house, save for me, was playing (re: wailing on) an incredibly random assortment of musical instruments. For serious, we had the bodhran, the maracas, the violin, the bagpipe chanter, the recorder, the auto harp, and the piano all going at once.

I just laughed like a loon, giggling myself into a tear-streaked stupor.

It was like that scene from Mary Poppins that features Bert’s one man band, just without the – you know – talent and musical prowess.

Not that I’m complaining. It was sheer brilliance.

Now that I have arrived back home, I am in the process of rehydrating. It is imperative that I replace all that vital fluid I lost through my laugh attack induced tears – plus my throat is like the mother fracking Sahara here dudes. DRY AS CRAP.

The way that this this blasted sickness has set up camp in my chest, it’s like Occupy fricken Wall Street in there.

Though Occupy Respiratory System doesn’t have quite the same ring to it…

(We’ll also have to wait and see if Kanye manages to show up or not.)

Okay, enough now. I’m all over the place tonight.

What I’m trying to say here is that I am making a concerted effort to just chilling out.

FOR REAL.

This is especially true due to the fact that I always find that it’s a bit of an adjustment period heading back to work after an extended period of time off. You have to find the right rhythms, get used to the crank of the gears, and the ebb and flow of the, well, flow charts.

(Let alone the challenge of accomplishing all this when you have an accordion in your lungs and nasal cavities with the proportions and capabilities of a water hose.)

It’s discombobulating! But heartening to acknowledge that at least everything will eventually return to as it once was, all in good time.

In the interim, I am going to sleep like a sleeping thing, and drink like a drinking thing, and eat as much lemon meringue pie that I possibly can.

When life gives you lemons - blow your nose and eat pie.

It’s probably not the best thing to be eating while still fighting the flu.

Can I write it off as part of my daily citrus-Vitamin C intake?

Because that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.