January 31, 2014


Hi there! Can you believe it's the last day of January already?
What is this weird time capsule I am in all the time, that turns days into hours and hours into

I did this awesome thing in January. Believe it or not, I needed a break from the retail industry. I couldn't quit my job though (you don't say haha), so I eased the pain by putting a spending ban on myself. And by spending ban I mean a REAL spending ban. While I didn't allow myself to buy any luxury items such as clothing or shoes, accessories, home ware and the whole she-bang, I also wasn't allowed to buy take away food, coffees, smoothies or juices, bottled water or lunch and so on.
Pretty strict you say? Well let me explain.

I used to love the weeks leading up to Christmas, but working in retail just makes it this stressful and pressure fueled time, in which I work myself to the ground, while feeling incredibly guilty about not being able to be with my family overseas or the family I have here. In a nutshell, the month of December for me is: artificial light, recycled air, millions of phone calls that make my ears go red, too much of this bullshit phenomenon that is multitasking, sales, Sales, SALES. It definitely doesn't stand for calm, introversion, reflection, gratitude or simply time.

When I'm under pressure, I display the strangest behavioral patterns. I either crave sugar, want to destroy shit, or I want to give other people my money in exchange for things I don't need. So imagine these three behavioral patterns spread over the length of at least one month and the damage these do to my figure, wallet and mental health.

This kind of unflattering leopard skirt is the most recent clothes purchase I made, on 26th December. I didn't try it on. Mistake.
I knew I needed to go cold turkey in order to shut down these stress-management processes I subconsciously put into place.
I wanted to regain control over my finances most of all, so a shopping ban was the obvious thing to do. Don't get me wrong, I never had any debt in my life, but I feel extremely uneasy about digging into my savings at the end of my pay period, just to get the groceries. Wanting to kick my sugar habit perfectly aligned with the spending restrictions I put into place, which resulted in me packing my lunches myself, doing the necessary food prep in advance and therefore saving extra dollars by not wasting groceries. Needless to say I save a HUGE amount of unnecessary calories. That's a bonus on the side if you're a lazy ass like me who doesn't work out for health reasons, but drags herself to the gym with one simple goal only: To look good naked.

There were a few hurdles I faced, especially in the first and last week of January, so I did up a little weekly recap for all you fellow over-spenders and over-eaters out there.

My 11 am and 3 pm coffee habits are the hardest to kill off. I keep myself in line by thinking of the $ 10 and whatever amount of calories I save per day by not making that trip to the next cafe. I start bringing a travel mug and tea bags to work, but never actually feel a craving for a hot drink in the first place. Major body and mind trickery is in place here.
Packing my lunch means getting up 10 minutes earlier than usual. The first few days are a pain, but I get into the swing of things pretty quickly. I actually look forward to lunch and my delicious salads, pasta dishes and homemade protein muffins. I start using my filter bottle for water, which increases my water intake by about one liter per day. I avoid any and all clothes shops altogether, not even catching glimpses of shop windows.
Total savings for the week: $ 170 (holy shit, I know. All this money spent on commodities in the past. I hate myself a little looking at that sum.)

Not shying away from spending the $$$ on this idiot.
The lunch packing process has become natural to me by Week 2. I plan my grocery lists better and cook up big batches of food, then freeze them. Because I am a crazy dog parent, I pay $ 160 for a dog chiropractor consult and have the puppy's back aligned. I also throw $ 80 at a health food sales assistant for Spirulina and fish oil, because the chiropractor says the puppy would benefit from them. (She didn't mention Spirulina tastes like butt.) Let me tell you this: My puppy IS a lot happier, but I also didn't get to save any money this week. MAJOR bonus though: I didn't have to dig into my savings to pay for these unplanned expenses, as I would have any other week. I also start having quick looks into competitor's shops and dare a few glimpses at shop windows of my favorite clothes shops, to discover that I am, indeed, "FINE just looking".
Total savings for the week: $ 0

totally worth it tough!
Again puppy expenses left right and centre: A new dog bed weighs in at $ 35, real meat treats at $ 40. Fortunately the fridge is stocked and I have become even better at lunch and dinner prep. The husband and I treat ourselves to a Sushi platter just because, so there it is, my first offense, followed by another two take away instances (because hungover and stuff). Not a good week all in all, but I still manage to save money and stick to my spending ban in all other areas but the sneaky take away department.
Total savings for the week: $ 50

I find myself in a frenzied state inside a "Lovisa" store, trying on decadent necklaces and realizing I could easily drop hundreds of dollars right then and there on necklaces that are way too impractical to wear (getting punched in the face by chunky jewellery much?). A nice chat to the sales assistant calms me down and I reassure myself that once I choose ONE out of these six or so potential new closet tenants online, I can come back in February to buy it. I also have an epiphany that my work wardrobe needs a massive overhaul, but decide on one particular outfit I want to invest in in February (which I will feature in a future post!). I'm still lunch packing, and to my surprise my coffee cravings have disappeared. I hardly notice if I forget my morning cup of the death broth, whereas a month ago it would have taken lightning out of Satan's arse to wake me up without my standard morning coffee. My usual 3 pm sugar cravings are diminishing. Instead of crappy stuff I eat fruit and maintain semi-abs I last worked on about a fortnight ago. Again I spend money on the puppy. This time it's toys worth $ 45 that last around 2 hrs and 15 minutes before I collect them all in bits off the floor and place them in the rubbish. I am sick and cancel personal training, which saves me $ 50 (that I will use for my extra session next week, of course!).
Total savings for the week: $ 175

SO, do you see a pattern here? I completely avoided walking into shops, because I knew I couldn't trust myself (which was perfectly put on display during my almost relapse at a fashion jewellery store out of all stores!!!). I packed my lunch and even if I craved a fucking burrito, I still ate that salad knowing I couldn't let it go to waste because MONEYS. I still went out to social events, had a few drinks and ate greasy fast food a hand full of times because, hey, a gal's gotta live! But I tuned down this urge for consuming and spending from a massive loud voice in my head to a tiny little whisper whose trigger I can now identify and manage. I won't be that person who NEVER buys new clothes again, but I won't buy anything unless I have tried it on properly, have gone home and can't stop thinking about it for at least 48 hrs. I won't starve myself if I forget my lunch, but I won't get back into that old habit of not bothering to pack my lunch or buying coffees because I am bored or thirsty or both. And I won't get back into buying sugary snacks full stop. Pretty sure they eat your brain.

So you're thinking about doing this or a similar challenge, but are riddled with self-doubt like every other twenty-something with internet and social media access on this planet? Let me tell you this:
I work in at least two different shopping centers every day, walk past duty free airport shops twice a week, I have the biggest sweet tooth and a massive 3 pm blood sugar drop, haven't been known for my will power (hello muffin top), have massive FOMO attacks and I still kicked this challenge's ass. Give it a shot, if nothing else your savings account will thank you and you can blow it all on a concert ticket or domestic flight or micro vacation at the end of the month!
Living smart doesn't exclude living HAAARRRDDD y'all. *drops motivational speaker mic*

January 24, 2014

Let's talk clothes

Where to start? The button up flannelette shirt? The thong jorts over fishnet underpants? The chin length hair? The teeth flashing?
Maybe I just love this look so much, because it is the only one I could instantly recreate using preexisting wardrobe tenants. Due to excessive shedding in recent weeks I am also contemplating on giving that fabulous hair cut a go.  
A bedazzled Beyonce is a good Beyonce. I love this clip because South America is on my bucket list, dancing Samba in the streets is on my bucket list and wearing jewels on my boobs is right at the top of my bucket list. The clip is quite casual, but aids in making it all the more apparent, that Beyonce's less glamorous moments in life are still a LOT more awesome than yours or mine.
The jewel sparkly bralette from the "Pretty Hurts" video is badass - I want this shit in my wardrobe and I might even consider some DIY attempts. Not sure about the range of movement in this wicked workout outfit to the right - I can't think of anything worse than doing a cardio workout wearing a lycra catsuit, platform sneakers and a metal belt - but if it wasn't an over the top outfit choice for a mundane activity, then what would it be doing in a Beyonce video? I have mixed feelings about the 90ies black empress short haircut with water waves. She still looks fabulous albeit very pale in the "Haunted" video. What's with the almost white skin tone? The black weave in the "Grown Woman" video is fabulous and hot hot hot! I love the space warrior princess theme. Very refreshing!
So, let's talk about one of the more underrated songs on the album that is "Jealous". I feel weirdly empowered whenever I hear the line "Freakum dress outta my closet, Yonce's filling out that skirt, I look damn good I ain't lost it". But the real fabulous is the intricate blouse and high waisted corsage outfit, with the slicked back hair and dark lipstick. So many shades of good! "Partition" is a crazily awesome song and will push a lot of buttons, especially those of boring people who believe a woman is to ban her sexuality and suppress any urges once she's reproduced. No. Just no. "XO" is fun and heart warming and Terry Richardson did a great job capturing a very playful Yonce in an equally playful environment. He's still a creepy dude.
THIS! My favorite song and a true gem of a video. Can we just take a second and appreciate the abs and belly button piercing/body chain in the top right photo. This frame plays with masculine and feminine stereotypes and really stuck with me from the very first time I watched the album on my tiny iPhone. I also adore the hotel hallway walk, high heels off and butt cheeks out. Needless to say I love to sing my heart out to this song whenever I get a chance!
"Superpower" is one of these songs, that took me a while to get into. You know, there's always one song on an album that seems to be overshadowed by the more catchy ones, but once you have a closer listen, you realise its awesomeness. Same goes for the video. I didn't like the violence theme at first, so didn't watch the video until about two weeks after purchasing the album. What I discovered was a hyper-crop top that showed those perky apples, an amazing and tiny bandage dress with matching overknees. The true gem in this video is the mini Destiny's Child reunion and the amazing warrior make-up. I used to wear eyeliner like this through a filthy grunge phase and I am ready to touch base again with that version of myself.
Aaaand I saved the most controversial song for last: It's the "OMG she didn't just sing about a female enjoying oral sex on the receiving end" - song, that is ironically titled "Blow". Yes, that's why I can fully support Beyonce without feeling like a pop whore, because she sings about shit that noone dares to sing about. And while I acknowledge it's very playful and a little infantile and, yes the words "Vagina" or "Clitoris" don't actually get used, I find it pretty liberating to have a female in a position of power exclaim that women shouldn't just be on the giving end of the old oral sex game.
The video for "Yonce" is short and sweet, but that fringed under boob showing bra along with the cast of gorgeous supermodels makes it an experience.

SOOOO tell me men and women of this planet, which one is your favorite off the Beyonce album? Or are you a weirdo who's not at all into it? (Not judging but you must be crazy!!!)

January 11, 2014

Self titled

If you're frequenting this site regularly, you'd know by now that Beyonce is basically my black fairy godmother who raised me and taught me how to booty pop and partook in helping me to accept that there is a bubble butt joined to my equally voluptuous thighs.

I acquired the self-titled visual album within an hour of finding out about its existence, even breaking my self-imposed  "I won't ever use iTunes again" - ban. This mini series I posted above reassures me that all the emotions I've felt while immersing myself in these songs and videos are completely normal and justifiable and not a horrifying and irrational side effect of celebrity culture. 
Needless to say I, as a feminist, am grateful for the inclusion of a snippet of  Chimamanda Adichie's TED talk in ***Flawless, because force-feeding feminist media of this supreme quality to such a large audience is absolutely terrific, progressive and has never been done before by a pop star with such a tremendous following. I have to fight off tears of anger, frustration, but also pride when I hear Adichie put so eloquently and sincerely into words, what I have felt for a long time. I am not an African woman, I am nowhere near exposed to as many struggles as the women there living in an extreme patriarchal culture. I am privileged enough to live in the Western civilized world...but isn't it even scarier, that I've been able to relate to so many of her stories? Isn't it scary that a woman of power, influence and incredible wealth like Beyonce could relate to her enough, she featured her in one of her biggest and most memorable artistic projects yet? Give that a thought.

I spent 50 minutes of my first flight this year screen shooting some of the grandiose outfits of Beyonce's visual album and will dissect and share what I feel is worth dissecting and sharing. Just be warned that there WILL be fan-girlying of supreme proportions. I will also share a lot of feels and such...

Until then.
Watch Chimamanda Adichie's TED talk for some straight forward, non-irrational, humorist and honest information on everyday gender inequality.

January 05, 2014

New Year's expectations

How does one start a post, after a month off the grid?
I've been pondering over that question for about two weeks now, but hey - here I am.
I feel confused about where to take this blog in 2014. It's a substantial and utterly satisfying part of my life, but it's also very time consuming and I'm constantly wondering - where is this going?
Fashion, beauty, fitness, health - I'll leave that to the pros and the wealthy.
I'm just happy to be a normal person with normal goals and a grande portion of life confusion on hand and I'm certainly happy to share that state of confusion (and those rare moments of enlightenment) on this platform. So I suppose I just answered my own question by admitting that I would like to go on rambling, without any kind of blogger series or weekly column (because I've tried and failed doing these SO many times), without a category, without a predetermined posting frequency. No pressure. Just expression.

I'll start by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope your Christmas was a lot less sad than mine and I hope unlike me, you didn't pass out on the couch at 10:30 pm on NYE.

Let's get straight into the New Years resolutions then, shall we?
I mean, that stuff gives so much fuel to all these websites, magazines and TV shows - their pages will be dripping of work out regimes, clean eating plans and budget friendly wardrobe overhauls (lol) for the next four weeks or so. I kind of didn't want to jump on the bandwagon, but man do I feel motivated and ready for subtle change. I wonder how quickly I could take over the world, if I was consistently in this state.

I'm calling my resolutions "expectations" this year. An unfulfilled expectation results in disappointment. An unfulfilled resolution results in a wee bit of guilt at the end of the year. I hate disappointing people, and most of all I hate disappointing myself, so that should be fueling the engine. I also think an expectation is much more  concrete and can be followed up with a realistic plan. Maybe I'm just so over failing at resolutions (and may I say, I did actually follow through with most from last year, just not the important ones...), so calling them a different name makes them more feasible to achieve. But anyway, here are a few things I expect of myself this year:

Selective media consumption

About five minutes ago I deleted over thirty blogs off my feed. I un-followed over one-hundred strangers on instagram. I will actively avoid flooding my brain with images of unrealistic body images and excessive materialism. I haven't picked up a single women's magazine in 2013 and let me tell you, this was a healthy choice. Yet I almost instantly decided to gather my self-esteem busters through social media instead.
At the moment I am questioning what made me follow these blogs or people in the first place. Did I worship the thin and beautiful women who seem to have insatiable access to garments of all price tags and hang out with seemingly the most stunning and interesting people on this planet? Was it the professional photography that intrigued? Was it a way of living a suppressed dream through somebody else? Or was it just outfit inspiration? But if it was the latter (and there is no harm in outfit inspiration), why am I not following blogs that star people of a dress size and yearly income I could actually relate to? How did I end up consuming media that is completely irrelevant for me, my life, my level of wealth? I feel a shattering certainty of having uncovered some serious self-manipulation tactic, all while thinking I was too progressive and educated to fall into that trap.  Consuming images of skinny, beautiful, constantly traveling wealthy women with a massive social network who sport equally desirable attributes was bound to make me feel less great about myself and my whole life.

Another shocking certainty is that out of seventy blogs I followed until this morning, only one was curated by a man. My instagram feed didn't look much differently - three or four male photographers, mostly fashion, hardly any travel (aka what I consider the essence of my happiness), lots of instagram famous American models, some unrealistic fitspiration, make up accounts, a few female celebrities. This is what I chose to consume on a daily basis. Comparing myself to them, at times thinking I was living an incomplete life, when I'm not lacking any of the real goods. I have a wonderful relationship with my family, friends and partner, I live in a spacious house, I can pay my bills, have a challenging job, can go traveling overseas at least once a year, am steadily building a healthy relationship with my body and generally have my shit together. So why manipulate myself on a daily basis? I have to put an end to this, and today is where I start.

I am also introducing two media related ground rules to my life:

"No social media before breakfast"
Before I owned a smart phone, I was disgusted by people who told me they woke up and straight away checked their social media. Sadly I am one of them now. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to point out that isn't a healthy way to start your day. Instead I will be either writing stuff or walk my crazy puppy.

"Social media can be checked three times per day, not more often"
I have developed a really bad habit of checking my social media basically whenever there are five minutes to spare. Most of the time, nothing and no one has updated or uploaded anything new, so it's even worse I read or look at this insignificant bullshit numerous times. I check on my breaks at work, if I have to wait at airports or taxi ranks, when I'm bored at home, when I'm bored somewhere else, while I walk my puppy, while I watch movies or TV, when I'm on the toilet (!!!), heck, I even tried to connect to facebook once using crappy non-functioning airplane wi-fi during a 55 minute flight. What the hell is wrong with me? What's wrong with this generation? Life's passing by, and where letting ours be dictated by the virtual presence of others. No more I say. No more.

Effort for effort's sake

Everyone who knows me, knows I don't do shit by halves. I like to give things my all. I work hard, I get stuff done and if I have to put in an extraordinary effort, I will. But I will only do it, if it benefits my work or if it benefits other people. I don't do it for myself, or just for the sake of doing it. This may sound profound but it starts with food. If there is just me for dinner, I'd happily eat nothing but a boiled egg or a grilled cheese sandwich. If it's me and my partner, I make sure there is a healthy proportion of protein, carbs and vegetables on that plate. I like healthy food, I much prefer it over junk most of the time, so why not put in a little extra effort and make a nice meal just for myself? Why do I feel I'm wasting time and effort if I do stuff just for myself? Is that some sort of patriarchy installed  "women sacrifice your own needs so you can cater to others" bullshit that got handed down to me from my female role models? Possibly. Maybe. I don't know. But it needs to change.

So in short I expect of myself to make an effort to cater to my own needs, as profound or great as they might be. I expect to prioritize myself, be kinder to myself and do what's good for my body and mind.

Learn how to braid hair

Five year olds can braid better hair than I can. I tried to do a french braid on myself yesterday and failed miserably. I can literally feel nerval ends in my brain attempt-attatching and then retrieving when my fingers get too confused and hair strands end up everywhere. I need a third hand at least. Or one of those creepy doll heads to practice on. Either way, 2014 is hair braiding year.

Maybe wash car

So there you go. New Years expectations, resolutions, whatever you want to call them...let's do this! What are yours? Did you set any goals? Are you perfection in itself already and turn your back to these kinds of things while simultaneously putting in your monocle and twirling your thin, waxy mustache? Tell me tell me tell me tell me.

all images Grete Stern via pinterest