January 2016

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Everything You Need To Know about Being Present and Showing Up to Your Life.

 

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[Photography By Alexandra Wolf]

I know as well as anyone that a level of every day exhaustion rivaling the residual effects of walking pneumonia is a thing, that crossing six New York City Avenues to reach preferred salad bar/therapist’s office/workplace, can render one desperate for an extended state of repose, and that day to day quasi adult life (because, let’s be serious…on time bill paying whereby the lights aren’t shut off prior to a dark and humiliating late payment? Right.) can diminish the concept of downtime to something that’s synonymous with a Real Housewives of Orange County marathon and a full body snuggie.

What I also know is that, at the risk of sounding grossly misguided (what with a career that’s centered around social media and a prolonged IPhone6 slouch that resembles more of a perpetual stoop than a graceful saunter), there’s no supplement for authentic engagement and the act of being physically and mentally present for one’s own life.

Regardless of what’s going on with Saint West via all of the click bait articles peppering the screens of our gently lit social media devices, nothing makes a more noteworthy memory than saying, “Even though I’ll invariably go numb and ruin the pointed toe tips of my suede BB pumps on the way to drinks with my bestie, I’m not going to pull out because of a psychosomatically manifested post work ‘headache,’ cramps, or even the all consuming nightmare that is chronic fatigue.”

When I got engaged in September, I immediately envisioned the loved ones who I wanted to surround me at my white and chrome laden (that’s a story for another post) wedding reception. I quickly flashed back to every no holds barred and often wildly inappropriate gargantuan laugh thats been shared between my best friend, Laura, and I, and realized, She lives on the Upper West Side for fuck’s sake – why aren’t I taking more proactive measures to see her as much as I did in college? Has the fear of a failed career and the need for an extra ninety minutes of sleep come to outweigh the importance of making memories that will eventually come to define the entirety of our lives?

Joyce Meyer encourages me to push past emotions (this woman delivers such powerful sermons that I often feel that she intends to communicate DIRECTLY WITH ME as I press play on YouTube and commence my morning listening/makeup routine); she insists that they’re unreliable, subject to frequent change, and therefore – fundamentally untrustworthy. In the same way, I’m learning to forego procrastination in favor of something substantially more gratifying –- the purposeful cultivation of my closest relationships. In sum, Joyce suggests (although never in these exact words) that we push past the bullshit. It’s a well-known fact that long-term happiness can’t be synonymous with complacency, so hello Isabel Marant walking boots, let’s get going in perfect Parisian street chic style.

On my wedding day, I don’t want to be surrounded by a room full of friends that I created memories with in “the good old days,”– you know, the many times we shared together long before entering the realm of adulthood, if adulthood were a thinly veiled reference for work, shower, cry, Zoloft, sleep, repeat. Instead, I want to make a decision to show up to my life, keeping my scheduled coffee, wine and dinner dates and relishing the act of basking in the presence of those who I love the most.

Why wouldn’t I want to reap the rewards of a life well lived?

 

2015, the Year of All Things Unexpected.

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[Photography by Alexandra Wolf]

It’s the first week of 2015. When I stumble across a quote on Instagram that reads, “Sorry I’m late. I didn’t want to come,” I’m taken aback by the fact that two declarative sentences posted on Fuck Jerry have the capacity to sum up the entirety of my innermost feelings concerning the present state of my career trajectory.

Despite my ostensible unwillingness to actively effectuate a significant change, it’s blatantly obvious that I need to resign from what I once referred to as my dream job. On my last day of work,  I’m almost immediately summoned into my boss’s office, and in the most nebulous communication thats occurred post the use of hieroglyphics, I’m unable to determine if I’m being fired or if I’m finally just shaking off the fuzzy quilt of complacency and quitting.

Suggesting that my work performance is not what it once was, my boss insists that I “go home and take a few days off.”

Amongst a sea of shock filled eyes peppering the newsroom floor as I exit stage left, I grab my yellow/green Celine and cab it back to my apartment. While lying prostrate on my bedroom floor, I can’t help but think that, save for the humiliation of being ‘let go,’ I’m desperately longing to leave this position. What was once an enthralling, all consuming experience has turned into a desk job, a series of 3 pm lingering Starbucks saunters runs and hourly clock checks.

With a friend’s wedding hastily approaching in Malaysia (with a five-day layover in Dubai, to boot) I come to terms with the idea of putting everything on hold until after I return from the trip, reasoning that this is an experience that won’t come around twice. Except I can’t just travel — my Type A OCD personality won’t allow for it, so instead, I meticulously plan and style all of my outfits, put my laptop and camera into my carry-on, and decide to write not only about my experiences as a newfound globetrotter, but about all of the other changing factors in my life, as well.

And thus, a personal style blogger with a penchant for journalism is born. On Valentine’s Day, I go to Paris with my boyfriend, and I photograph every last detail of the experience. He teaches me to love the city in a way that I never have before, and I realize that I want to start a career that’s centered around photo documenting visually spectacular moments as a form of voyeuristic escapism but that also places an authentic spotlight on the harsher realities of my personal life as a millennial woman.

It’s not all Avenue Montaigne and butter croissants, though. For the first half of the year, at least, I’m humiliated by the fact that I’ve found my life’s passion as a…blogger.

In the same way that I’m able to synopsize my feelings concerning my former job in one snarky Fuck Jerry quote, I come across another gem of wisdom on Instagram that reads, “The genius thing we did was…we didn’t give up.” Author? Jay-Z.

I commit to every travel opportunity that presents itself throughout the year. After Malaysia, Dubai and Paris, I visit Monaco, St. Tropez, St. Martin, Anguilla, South America, London, Prague, Florence, and Madrid, camera in hand, outfits pre-planned, editorial calendar set in stone.

That said, I’m still overwhelmed by all of the unknowns that have become synonymous with my life. What’s going to happen to my career? Will people suggest that I’ve forsaken a significantly more prestigious pathway for the sake of indulging in a glorified early retirement? What about my personal life? Will my significant other fall out of love with me on a whim? When did I become this pathetic, insecure mouse?  Am I going to allow the abandonment issues set forth by my bio Dad to control my life forever? At 27, if I don’t have my ducks in a row, is that pseudo socially acceptable or has it transcended into the realm of the dire?

Towards late summer, I hire a professional photographer. I decide to tell a story – one about a young woman who lives in New York and loves fashion. To accomplish this at a level that I can be deeply proud of, I stake out locations that are emblematic of life in this city, work to develop my personal aesthetic, style my looks well in advance of shoot days, iron, pack and go. In some ways, I realize that fashion blogging is not all that different from producing – it requires a fixed plan, an establishing shot, a strong shoot, and even a script of sorts.

In September, my fiancé proposes and I’m elated. It’s the most magical day of my life, and I feel enormous humility and gratitude that God has given me the gift of a soul mate. I start to think about my wedding and consider who I want to surround me on that day. When my nearest and dearest come to mind, I realize that life is ultimately about relationships, and that I want to cultivate my most important ones further. I make an active decision not to cancel scheduled dinner dates with my besties because I’m tired/overworked/cramping, et.al

At the end of the year, I lose a few people who were very close to me, and it cuts like a steak knife to the stomach; but then again, I find new love in unexpected places. NoteBrooke.com begins to prosper. I’m no longer embarrassed to tell people what I do for a living because I’m proud of the content that I’m creating. I start to feel that I, alone, am enough. Stripped of any pedigree that I might have had, my secrets borne to the world, I’m able to love myself anyway. I’ve never felt that before, and it’s something as comforting and beautiful as it is entirely foreign.

When I initially commence this year of aimless globe trotting, I ask myself, Is it possible to find a path while wandering the world? What I’ve learned over the course of the past twelve months is that it is…

as soon as you stop looking for one.