Week 2 – The Challenge (Random Acts of Kindness)

Fraught with setbacks! This project is just fraught with em, guys. It’s not fair but then, really… life isn’t fair. At least that is what I was told at a very young age by a particularly bristly teacher I had. And no, that teacher was not one of my lovely parents, who are also teachers. They would never deliver such a ridiculous line to a six year old, even if I was throwing one of my legendary tantrums (I don’t want to brag but I was pretty good at tantrums in my youth. So good in fact that people still speak of them now, in hushed tones and a mixture of awe and envy all over their faces). But back to the point, last week I found myself grappling with this ailment we call ‘the flu’. Or at least I do, because that’s what it’s called. The thing that baffles me about this whole flu dealio is I RARELY get sick. Again, not to brag but I just don’t do sick. I like to think I’m ‘above’ sick. Delusional, right?! Ridiculous! What a damn fool I am! But hear me out, guys, I have a legitimate reason for believing that I’m above sick. It just DOESN’T happen a lot! I believe that this is due to amazing parenting, or lazy parenting, depending on your take on things.

When I was younger I’d put all kinds of crazy things into my mouth. And before you say it, just DON’T! Do NOT make this into something unseemly and torrid because it definitely is not. I was just… well… I was a risk taker. And I also enjoy food a lot, obviously. When I was a kid and I discovered how wonderful eating could be, I started to think that all things in the world were probably edible; you just had to really want them to be. So I’d shove all kinds of things into my gob and just hope for the best. Sour sobs (every kid did that though, it’s not so weird), all kinds of plants, dry cat food, dry dog food, toys, pillows (they look like giant marshmallows but spoiler alert: they do not taste like them), jewellery, magnets, whatever I could find really. Anything that looked good I’d give a try. Now, I know this sounds insane and gross and a little bit concerning but it was a long time ago, I’m more discerning with what goes in my mouth now. And the good thing that came out of all this was a sturdy, impressive immune system. It’s all like “HA! You think a measly little cold or flu is going to shut this shop down? Think again son. We eat colds and flus for breakfast around here!” my immune system can get arrogant sometimes, I apologise. So when I started to realise that things were not right, I didn’t immediately assume it was illness, why would it be? That’s not really my jam, guys. After about half a day of pretending nothing was wrong things got worse, and I got more and more devastated. Of the few things I am truly proud of; my immune system would be number 2 on the list. Right behind my innate talent of sensing when cheese is near. This flu thing was not supposed to happen to me. But happen it did and I was too focused on not letting it go on for longer than it should to even think about this project. But I’m back on track now, so let’s get to it.

….Which brings me to this week and the project I’ve chosen. First a bit of context as to why I’m choosing this challenge; recently I was chatting to a friend of mine, let’s call her Anaconda, and she was telling me what was going on with another mutual friend of ours, let’s call her Thundercat. Anaconda was saying that Thundercat was just starting to get into this whole fitness thing. I thought that was awesome, I mean I’m all for fitness and health because I think it improves your mental state, I think it helps you get energy and maintain it and I think it makes you a more driven and focused person. I also love people feeling comfortable in their own skin, being happy with their reflection and celebrating their body, whatever size that body may be. These are the reasons I think fitness and health are important. Basically I think if you want to change your body, you should be changing it for you. Apparently this is not the same outlook that Thundercat has. Neither does Anaconda, for that matter. Apparently these two lovely ladies whom I cherish and respect, have very different opinions on why anyone should exercise and eat better. According to Thundercat and Anaconda, the main (if not only) reason to take better care of yourself is to lose weight so that people will find you attractive. Not to improve your fitness, not to be healthier, not to boost your energy levels or improve your quality of life, and not even really to make yourself happy. You exercise to shed kilos, and you shed kilos so that you are thin and beautiful. Because apparently you can only be beautiful if you are thin. Or so I was told during this enlightening conversation.

The thing about Anaconda is she is and always has been very thin, just naturally. She inherited some amazing genes and she clearly has a very fast metabolism, which means she’s always been slender (like Keira Knightley slender) so losing weight isn’t something she has to work at. As a result we just don’t really talk about weight issues that much. She’s happy with herself, I’m happy with myself, we have completely different body types but we are okay with that. Thundercat has another completely different body type, she’s not big like me and she’s not stick thin like Anaconda, she is blessed in that her body is a lovely hourglass figure, kind of like Marilyn Munroe. Who WOULDN’T want to look like Marilyn? It’s a dream come true, I’d have thought. But no, she wants to be thinner, she wants to be shapeless and she wants a body type that is just not realistic for her. I understand it would be very hard being so close with someone like Anaconda. I’m sure it would be difficult not to compare your body types when Anaconda is all bones and litheness and you are curves and hips and boobs and thighs. I get it. We are all insecure at times, we all compare ourselves to others. Fleeting thoughts of self-doubt are common. But letting these thoughts control how we see ourselves, how we perceive beauty and more importantly how we calculate our self-worth is just… well, it’s just backwards and it’s more than a little heartbreaking. Why are these amazing women, these smart, funny, strong, creative women, putting so much stock in their appearance over everything else they have to offer? Because this is the world we live in. And we can’t change that. Or can we….

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that nothing is being done to change this outdated and very limited perception of what constitutes ‘beauty’. There are heaps of thought provoking campaigns and creative endeavours focused around positive body image and the celebration of the human form. And perhaps in a decade or two things will be better (for women especially), maybe we’ll be allowed to feel attractive even if we’re not a size six. Maybe we won’t be judged solely on how visually pleasing our figure is. A gal can dream, right?! I would love to live in a world where the majority of the population believes that beauty is not a definite recipe, and that it can appear and be appreciated in all shapes and sizes. But mostly, I want to live in a world where people are being commended for their abilities over their appearance. That’s my goal.

Why even do we CARE so much about looks? Why is it SO much more important to be attractive than it is to be intelligent, driven, compassionate, creative, funny, talented, open-minded, generous or hard working? You know what they say, looks fade; its true guys. I’m sorry but it’s absolutely unequivocally true. Every day you’re getting older and by industry standards, that means you’re getting uglier. I DON’T BELIEVE THAT! Don’t get me wrong! But if we’re abiding all the rules put into place by society on what is deemed beautiful then getting older equals getting uglier. How much stock are you willing to put into something that has a definite used by date? And when you look back on your life, are you going to relish the thought that back in the day you were a hottie and looked great in a dress? Or are you going to regret not accomplishing something more substantial and perhaps even respecting yourself enough to find beauty in your skills, whatever they may be? I’ll tell you something for nothing, my biggest fear is that when I’m old and grey I’ll look back on my life and have nothing I’m proud of, nothing I felt made a difference and nothing to show for my time here on this earth. I am NOT afraid that if I go out with my friends no boys will look at or hit on me. I mean… give me a fucking break!

I know I’ve rambled on a bit here but this is something I feel very passionate about. I’m genuinely concerned about this generation and the next generation and the generation after not putting enough or ANY value on their insides over their outsides. I don’t like the direction we’re going in and I want to change that. I know that I can’t do much, I’m just one person, but whether or not change happens as a direct result of this is of little relevance. The fact that I’m trying is enough to stimulate change however small that may be. If nothing else, maybe someone I know who reads this will think ‘Yes! I want a better world too. I want my children to live a happier life and so I need to try something as well’ and that would be enough for me. Every major alteration is a result of thousands of little changes or attempts at change. At least that’s what I believe.

This week I’d like to celebrate inner beauty. I want to remind the people in my life of the things that make them stunning and special and important. This would fall into the category of ‘random acts of kindness’ if we’re going on my original list. But anyways, I’m not going into too much detail yet about how I’m going to do this. I have a detailed plan but a few of the people I’m targeting read this blog so I don’t want to ruin the surprise for them by broadcasting it all here. Instead, The Execution portion of this week will be heaps and heaps of pictures (omitting names and addresses) to show my efforts. At the end I’ll document it all in the Result portion.

Wish me luck you lovelies!

And don’t forget to check your mail boxes…

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Week 1 – The Result (Sew a Dress)

cropped pic

Once I can locate the pictures taken from the party, I will upload so you get the full affect of this beauty. And the dress will not be crinkled, and I’ll be wearing it, and there’ll be some insanely high silver shoes in there also, so…. something to look forward to right? RIGHT.

xoxo

Week 1 – The Execution (Sew a Dress)

Mary Pickford said “this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” And I need to remember these wise words whenever I fail at something. Because while a failure is still a huge blow to the ego, and can keep you from getting back up, a failure is also a brilliant chance to learn something. This first week of my little self-improvement project was 80% success and 20% failure. How? Well… let me explain.

In my youth, I could stay up til all kinds of crazy hours. There were days when I’d go to work at the disgusting and dehumanizing fast food restaurant I called my place of employment, and get through a whole eight hour shift on no sleep at all. I was capable of doing this maybe twice in a row, sometimes more if there were really good parties happening or someone I liked would be at our local pub that night. I could and did abuse my body many times over, and felt little to no guilt about it. Eventually, in my mid-twenties, this began to change. I needed at least a solid five hours of sleep to be able to function the next day. I would start to feel near death if I ate too much bad food in a row and didn’t exercise. Drinking got harder because the hangovers were longer and more evil. What used to be a morning and early afternoon kind of ailment soon became a two day hangover, sometimes more, and the whole time I would berate myself for being a stupid fool who tried to ‘party like the youths do’. Basically, getting older sucked the life right out of my party-girl antics. What does this have to do with the project, you ask? Well, while the dress making portion of week one’s challenge was a success, posting about it was not. All my effort went into getting it done before the party on Saturday, which I did. But then there was the shopping for the party and the setup for the party and the ‘make sure you eat so you line your stomach’ dealio and then before I knew it the party was happening, and I wasn’t even dressed in my fancy new gold attire yet. ‘I’ll post to the blog Sunday’ I vowed, but did I? No. Instead I slept and cleaned and slept some more. There were some Happy Endings episodes in there somewhere but it’s all a bit hazy now.

The thing is, I shouldn’t even have been that hungover or tired. I went to bed a good four or five hours before the rest of my housemates, I drank very little in comparison to them also, and I mostly just sat and chatted to people with the occasional dance here and there, so physical injury was not to blame. I am just getting old, and I hate it. Sunday was a write off, Monday was pretty much a write off too and yesterday I was too focused on work stuff to make room for anything else. So posting never happened. For this I am very ashamed, Monday was the day I spent a good deal of time angry at myself, sinking lower and lower and feeling as though I would never achieve anything good ever again. I never said I wasn’t a drama queen guys, I never promised you sanity. So for a while there I was ready to give up. Then I regrouped, I flipped through my notebook of ‘inspirational quotes’ and personal messages to help me out of a rut, and I decided that all was not lost, I could salvage this and learn from it and move on stronger than before. And so that is what I’m doing.

The dress making went fine, but I have now decided that with each new challenge I need daily goals. I can’t just go “Well that doesn’t look so hard; I could knock that out in a couple of hours tops. Let’s not get all excited just yet, maybe tonight can be my night off?!” because that is no way to get shit done, son. So there’s lesson one right there. I also need to ensure I have all the tools I need BEFORE starting. The last thing you need is to get to the final step and go “Oh holy HELL where is that thing I need? Is it in one of the many, many, MANY boxes of miscellaneous stuff under my bed?” cut to two hours later, my room in shambles, and the item I am seeking nowhere to be found. But did I lose my cool? Did I throw a tantrum? Did I cry and continue to scream “I just needed that ONE thing! That ONE GODDAM THING! I ASK FOR SO LITTLE! WHY WHY WHYYY??” over and over until it lost all meaning before dejectedly collapsing into the fetal position and rocking back and forth whimpering to myself? Yes, yes I did. But not immediately, that came later in the day after I’d gone to the shops, bought another needle to hand sew the buttons, and then got home to realise I’d left it in the shopping trolley. I lost my shit, y’all. And then I recovered. So that’s how that went.

The dress was a hit, I was very happy with it. It looked very much like a costume because no one wears THAT much gold in real life. Well… not that I’ve seen. But everyone was wearing gold and silver so I fit in just enough and stood out just a little. All in all, the perfect result. Now if I could just get my act together in time to document this prior to the week being over, then she’d be apples. But as I said, it’s all about the learning. And learn I did.

I’m moving this week’s challenge to next week so I can spend some time reflecting on what I did wrong. And before you start up on me, I know that I’ve already identified the issues and I know that I don’t need a whole week to reflect on my failure, I know this. Gosh, everyone’s a critic! But, I don’t want the next challenge to be hindered because I screwed up the first one. That’s like inviting Miley Cyrus and Meryl Streep onto a show and then having to cut time from Meryl’s interview because bloody Miley got up and twerked for 20 minutes. NO! Up with this I will not put! Stop twerking and making out with sledge hammers, Miley! It’s Meryl time to talk!

Thank you for bearing with me, folks. And wish my luck on my next pursuit.

xoxo

Week 1 – The Challenge (Sew a dress)

Here we go, you guys… It’s all happening! Week one’s challenge is simple enough, sew a dress for our upcoming housewarming party. Easy as pie, right? WRONG! But none the less, let’s begin out journey. I hear there’s a darling little cafe a few miles from here so shall we hit the road?!

A few months ago I moved into a wonderful place with some truly gorgeous women and honestly… things have never been better. Well, that’s a lie, but only once was my living situation more desirable than it is now, and that was when I had a short stint living with a hilarious Irishman above his bookstore where I also worked. He could be a bit brazen sometimes, and he liked to call me names which hurt but I had a really amazing beard at the time and… no… actually now that I think about it, that wasn’t me. That was Manny in Black Books. Okay so this is the best place I have ever lived, BAR NONE!!

To celebrate we are throwing a (very belated) housewarming party. It’s the talk of the town, the social event of the season, anyone who’s anyone will be there and so obviously I need something new and flashy to compliment my sparkling personality. (it’s not really that sparkling, to be honest; It’s just a sort of fuzzy glow if anything. But new threads outta sort that out pronto). The theme of the party is Gold and Silver. We figured a large group of our nearest and dearest all looking like precious metals would be conducive to good times, great selfies and a whole lot of glitter poisoning; which anyone will tell you is what makes a party.

I’m really enjoying gold at the moment. Previously anti-gold; I am finally coming around to its virtues. I think it’s because whenever I hear the word ‘bling’ I just picture a million gold chains with various dollar-themed pendants and that is a mental image I am on-board with. So gold is where it’s at. Here’s the pattern I got from spotlight:

dress

So obvi, the gorgeous model is not wearing a gold OR a silver dress but I’m going to let you in on a little secret known only to avid sewers and Home Economics teachers; you don’t have to make the EXACT dress you see on the packaging. So you don’t enjoy geometric shapes? (I mean… I’m sure you do. Only psychopaths and people with eye-patches don’t like geometric shapes, and you don’t want to fall in with that crowd. Trust me.) Well, no worries! how bout a nice floral pattern to tickle your fancy? Yes? Well, honey you go right ahead. Or maybe you’re a fan of solid colours? Good news guys, that’s fine too! Colour block the shiz outta it, it’s your dress man! Or maybe you want it exactly like the picture but just slightly shorter… heck yeah man, you do you. Because the best thing about sewing your own clothes is not that they fit better or you get to boast when someone says “I love that dress, where did you get it from?” or even the price (cos really, it’s not that much cheaper to make your own clothes these days, even if you do have a member card) it’s the fact that you can make your clothes look exactly as you wish them to. You can have a dress made out of dinosaur-printed fabric if you want (I do) or you can bring back a style that everyone else wishes would just die (overalls anyone?!) or you can take a perfectly pretty yet simple looking dress and turn it into a walking chandelier. That’s the beauty part, peeps, it’s entirely up to you. And this dress will be 80% solid (plain-ish) gold fabric and 20% sequined gold fabric. I know, I know, it sounds like sex on legs. I will take care when I wear it, promise.

I decided that the first challenge had to be a kind of soft landing situation because easing into this is the best thing for me personally. I’d love to be a jump-in-head-first kind of person, but I know I’m not. If I go too hard too early I get overwhelmed and scared which inevitably causes me to abandon the project all together. And that, much like a torrid night of romance with Elijah Wood, is something I would HATE to happen. So this seemed a good starting point as I do have experience in the sewing biz. See, I have been sewing since I was a child but I have never been full on about it. My beautiful and amazing mother taught me young because that’s just the kind of winner she is, but she is a stickler for perfection (which is hilarious and heartbreaking because the poor lass certainly ended up with the most imperfect daughter in the world) so I think at an early age I associated sewing with boredom. I was always getting so bored. Not because my mum is a bad teacher, she’s a truly gifted educator, but because I get bored easily. And she never let me run around the house using the sewing needle like a tiny sword. Pfft! Fun killer.

But over the years I began to see the merit in it all and became more and more in love with making my own clothes. But sometimes the things you love do not love you back. It’s true and it’s unfair but that’s life, kids. My one and only beef with sewing is that the terminology used in the sewing guide is sometimes crazy confusing. I should be better at it by now, I should be able to read the whole thing and go “okay, that makes sense. Sewing machine ACTIVATE” but that is never the case. Instead there is a lot of shouting and swearing, glasses get broken, fabric gets ripped, tears (oh so many) are shed directly onto the project, and there is always a handful of phone calls to mummy dearest asking in a quivering, defeated tone what the flip yadda yadda means. And it doesn’t ever seem to get easier. And so that is why my first challenge is to sew this godforsaken dress. I need to do it by myself. I need to not hassle mumsy. And I need to get (even a little bit) better at this whole thing.

So challenge accepted. Stay tuned for the next instalment of Week 1 (The Execution) in which you will join me on an Adventure in Razzle Dazzle. Or something…. it’s a working title.

Xoxo

 

 

Welcome and How it Works

Hiya! So if you’ve read my About page then you know what the deal is; One positive task, goal or project each week until I feel like I’m the best version of myself or until I finally throw caution to to the wind, eat that spag bol that’s been in the fridge for as long as I can remember, and die from food poisoning. Whichever comes fist.

I’m going to structure each week into three parts-

The challenge – What I’m doing and why.

The execution – Do it to it.

The result – Success or failure, both are welcome.

There’s going to be a lot of pictures and the occasional video (just because I’m in LOVE with editing film so… why not ey?!) and obviously a lot of writing about how I went with it.

I’m pretty excited about this, guys. It’s a big step for me, because previously the only thing I was ambitious about was not drinking coffee after 3pm. And I didn’t do too well at that either. Luckily I’m single and not interested in changing that any time soon, so I’ve got time. OH so much time.

It all starts this Monday (15th September) and my first project is to sew a dress for the housewarming party my housemates and I are throwing next week. I thought this a good one to start with because I literally can NOT extend it past a week as I need the dress for the weekend. Pretty smart, ey?! Upstairs for thinking y’all, downstairs for stompin! ‘

So wish me luck. Or don’t, whatever, I’m not the boss of you. Just please don’t wish me bad luck. That’s the kind of negative karma that no one needs. Except maybe the d-bag who called me a mutt for no reason last week, I reckon he could use a little bad luck; maybe it’ll even lend him a tiny bit of compassion, who knows?!

pic

(knowledge is power, I’m gonna smash this thang!)

Ciao!