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?