Thursday, June 5, 2014

I am my mother's child

Jeans: Vintage GUESS ; Kimono: Painted Threads ; Bralette: Spell Designs ; Sunnies: $1 garage sale ; Rings: heirlooms ; Necklace: Downton Abbey Jewelry Collection

I'm forgoing "Things I Love Thursday" for this post that I meant to get up yesterday but for boring, work-related reasons, I didn't have time to. Which is a bummer because Little Girl joined me in these photos, making them puuuurrrrrfect for National Hug Your Cat Day (which was yesterday). Whatever, go hug your cat! They won't know you're a day late, will they?

My life so far this summer has been bell bottoms, hair all over the place, hanging with my cats on the front porch, soaking up the sun on coffee shop patios, old friends, no cares in the world, just going along and enjoying life. I am at a really perfect place in my life right now - made even more perfect by the storm that I went through last August through February that left me a lifeless shell. Accepting this temporary full-time job for the summer made me nervous because I don't want to disrupt all the beautiful things currently in my life. But I took the job and my days of leisure are already being filled with meetings all over town, designing campaign lit, planning events, and just in general being busy. But the best thing about my new job? Part of it I can do from home, meaning I can work odd hours and watch re-runs of X-Files while I work. I'm sacrificing major pay for these benefits, but you gotta love underpaid post-grad life, huh?

This outfit is a good representation of my life right now. Carefree. Going along and figuring out things as they come to me, one bit at a time - not loading myself with too many responsibilities, caring for my emotions one at a time. After the brutality of the past year, dealing with my boyfriend's drug addiction, I've been taking a long time to care for myself. And to breathe life in and enjoy every breath.

I'm lucky that, over the years, after numerous traumatic events in my early teens, I've learned how to care for myself. Sometimes we have terrible events in our lives that inevitably wear us down, but I've learned to not let things break me anymore. I'm in tune with what I need in order not only to survive, but also to love life and wake up in the morning feeling confident and proud.

For the past few months, I've been thinking a lot about how I was raised and how that has changed the person that I am today. Although my parents are still together, I consider myself primarily raised by my mother. Yeah, I've always done things with my dad. We used to play baseball for hours on summer nights. He was the parent who had the patience to play board games with me. We still often run errands together just for the fun of it. But my father has always been closed off and angry, I never wanted to be like him and I never was in sync with him. I ask him questions about his life, or about family members I never knew, or about his day at work, and he will fly off the handle in rage. I grew up understanding that my dad doesn't handle or process things well, and I knew that that wasn't how I wanted my life to be. Besides this lesson, most of my learning has come from my mother, a calm, patient woman who talks passionately about her convictions and the things that matter to her. She has carefully dissected events in her life in order to have a better understanding of them, and she's always been willing to share her life with me in that way.

My mother spent 1968 right outside of San Francisco, during the summer of love. She's always spoken vibrantly of her time in California and how much it shaped her. One of my favourite of her stories is one about her father. When she was young, they had a pond in the backyard with a couple of goldfish in it. Her goldfish got stuck in the rocks, and her dad dismantled the pond in order to save her goldfish. My mother is still best friends with her childhood best friend - she always called herself "The Adoptive Daughter" and would tell me stories about all the adventures she and her best friend went on. My mother gets very serious when she talks about the outbreak of AIDS and how much it shook her entire world as she understood it. I remember when Princess Diana died, and I walked into the kitchen to find my mother in front of the TV choking on her tears. This was the first time in my life that I ever saw my mother cry, and I cry just even remembering this, as it's something that wonderfully articulates the beauty in my mother. She told me about how Lady Di was the first person of celebrity to touch someone with leprosy or with AIDS. She told me about how much this meant to the world, and how beautiful it made the great woman that we had just lost. My mother talks to me with great respect and understanding, and always has. She trusts me to grasp the value of all of this. And in the end, I've turned out to be like my mother's child.

It's only been recently that I've realized my upbringing wasn't exactly like most of my peers'. I didn't understand that most children weren't brought up burning patchouli incense every day, or sporting their first pair of Doc Martens at the age of two. I wore velvet bell bottoms and peasant blouses through Sixth grade (before I deemed them too dorky to carry forth into middle school). I grew up listening to Simon & Garfunkel, Peter Paul & Mary, Steppenwolf, Tom Petty, John Denver, Janis Joplin - and Motown classics like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, & The Temptations. While most kids go to amusement parks and Disney for family vacations, my family went to sculpture gardens, art museums, Mount Rushmore, and park reserves. We always took at least two family vacations every year just to hike in Minnesota's north woods and along the river. Being in nature was very much a part of my life as a youngster. Art saturated my younger years. Not only taking in art, but also making art. My creative mind was always greatly encouraged, especially by my mother. She worshiped the art I created as if it was the most precious gift in the world. And it is. The ability to create and imagine is one of the greatest gifts we have.

My mother really shaped who I am, more so than any other person in my life, yet it's only just been in the past few months that it's become glaringly obvious. My ability to articulate my feelings and grow from abrupt and painful change, my ability to love freely and without fear, my ability to be vulnerable in the face of adversity, my ability to listen to the stories and the feelings of others, my ability to feel both ugly things and beautiful things very greatly and very deeply - these are all things that I saw in my mother, that I learned from my mother. I've adapted them to suit my life more - to help me heal from the trauma of my early teens, to help me grow from the heartbreak of my last relationship, to help me feel gratitude for my life - but they're all, inherently, from my mother. And that's a very wonderful thing to finally realize.

In addition to these life lessons, I also took away my love for birds and small critters, my infatuation with Simon & Garfunkel, and my obsession for bell bottoms. And I guess, in a way, this outfit is a representation of me being my mother's child - but adapted to suit myself better.

Oh, and I stole her cat for these photos, as Little Girl isn't technically even my cat despite what I may claim. She's just sooooooooo soft. And my cats Peter & Gogo aren't as pliable as her.

My evening will be spent working, hemming pants, listening to Janis, and preparing for an 8am meeting. What are you doing with your summer evenings?


  1. Your outfit here is so perfect. I also really love how much you seem to care about and admire your mother. I'm often jealous of people who have really good relationships with their mom because although I don't have a terribly awful one, my mom and I have always been fierce opposites. She's always encouraged that more artsy side in me though that I sadly lack and I got quite a bit of my music taste from her as well (In fact, we were just loudly singing along to Fleetwood Mac together the other day!). I really enjoyed this post.

    1. Thanks Janey, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I wouldn't say that I always have a great relationship with my mum - we spar often, but my nature allows me to sit and reflect and take beautiful things away from it all. I think that, as daughters, we always worry about not fulfilling our parents' wishes, and sometimes parents can be really difficult when we don't meet their "expectations". I'm lucky that my mum is (almost) always supportive of me, and I'm so grateful to have a healthy relationship with her.

  2. I did hug my cat yesterday, suppose I will again soon too. so jealous of your bralette, so "of Northy"-y :) kimono was a good touch too.

  3. I also grew up in a slightly different way than my peers and had a slightly different outlook than them. I grew up more old fashioned in a slightly more religious household, no makeup, heels or revealing clothes allowed, Arabic and Hebrew language around me, my dad being 25 years older than my mum and being ill and retired when I came along. He was the one to do a lot of things while my mum was working (cooked, we went for very long nature ramblings before and after school so we grew up a lot near a farm and a park and random wildlife as much as the suburbs could contain) but he died when I was 12 and I got to realise that out of all of my siblings, I am the most like my mum as we've gotten a greater understanding of each other over the years. While I was dubbed naive and ugly by some peers by not caring or knowing the power of makeup, I feel better to not have that pressure to have to wear it each time I step outside of the door and the satisfaction and realisation that my skin is way better than theirs at the age we are at now. For all of their early sophistication and mockery of me, I have aged better. I may not have been able to have had the experiences they have had (which most people have done by my age) but I feel more secure in myself to do what suits me. I am not happy with the way things have turned out in my life but I am more content now than before and I think you have reached that turning point too. If I may lump us in the same category, we have a long way to go until we are truly happy but we are on the road to that now. People always want to be happy but a lot forget about being content and that is just as important. After last year, I'm glad you are walking out of the storm with your head held high

  4. Chloe, you're such a goddess. These photos are stunning! I love everything about this outfit - your high waisted jeans, your kimono, your round sunnies! Your mum sounds awesome, and she definitely has good taste in music! My parents aren't particularly cool (and unfortunately for me, they don't really like incense) but they've always been incredibly supportive and a lot of my values come from them too, which I'm very grateful for. xx

  5. gorgeous outfit and beautiful words! while i'm only 18, my relationship with both my mum and my dad is similar to what you've described here, i have them to thank for my music taste and love for all things to do with nature. your words made me remember just how much i appreciate them! lovely post x

  6. Perfect effortless love-child. I think I'm growing more and more like my mom all the time, though more in an overly cleanly way.


  7. I love your outfit and your beautiful words. My summer days have been more busy than I'd like them to. A never ending to-do list occupies my mind. I'd love to break free from it but mostly I just want to get these things done. Take care!

  8. Simon and Garfunkel. And Cat Stevens. You clearly had a first-rate upbringing, for sure.
    Does your playlist also include Harry Chapin? Gordon Lightfoot? The Guess Who? Carole King? Etta James? LaVerne Baker? Nat King Cole?
    What about Mary Robbins? Roger Miller?
    Any "British Invasion" fare? Or 50s and 60s instrumentals?
    (I apologize for being so meddling.)


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