I am grateful for many things, many aspects, within and including my life. Though my country of origin has many problems – ones on which it is working and ones on which it is not -, I am ever grateful for my opportunity and blessing to have been born here. So much in life seems like a game of chance, and our origins seem often to be part of that. I am grateful for the family who have raised me, for the friends who have joined my family, for the city and state who have always been here, and for the country whose history – including all of its many, many struggles and failures – and whose people’s endurance and passion allowed for my life to happen so beautifully as it does today.
Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. Wherever you go, go with all your heart. I believe that much of my country’s history was filled with people who lived by those two ideas. Their being human, they certainly had their faults. But a lack of heart and passion was not one of them. And so, I am grateful every day for the opportunities they allowed me, over 200 years later.
Remember: Everything and anything you do can and will have an impact on the future, somehow. How can we do out best to make that impact be a positive one for this planet and for its inhabitants?
Lin-Manuel Miranda, I thank you – you have given the world such wonder and love and beautiful creativity and expression, and we, the people, are grateful. 😉
And for all of it – you are a gift, and you have shared your treasure with the world at large… for that, and for following your passion and love, you have helped to make the world a better place on both a personal and a global level.
Located at 227 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, is a little shop by the name of St. Hrouda. Walking inside, one will find a combination boutique / art gallery, managed by the fashion extraordinaire Nicole Bell. St. Hrouda’s walls are chicly lined with art and clothing from local artists and brands, including, my particular favorite, those made and designed by Nicole Bell herself.
Though I was in Brooklyn this past July, I have not yet seen this wonderful boutique/art gallery, because it has only recently opened its doors. When Nicole first took over the space this fall, it was a somewhat drab and old-looking little shop. Within weeks, she and her father, through their combined genius, had put together one of the most classy spaces I’ve ever seen (even in photographs). The before and after photos of the space showed how true a transformation had taken place, and they actually had me wanting to jump up and down to celebrate the amazing results. It is now the bea-U-tiful space of St. Hrouda, named for Nicole’s grandmother, and housing brands from New York, Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Paris, London, and LA, while featuring, of course, Nicole Bell. And the gallery portion of St. Hrouda displays art by local New York artists (including, again, art by Nicole Bell herself), all for sale.
On a regular basis, Nicole hosts a ladies’ night at St. Hrouda – from which I always see photos of wine and fabulous personal styling sessions (Think of what Becky Bloomwood does with her customers in the Sophie Kinsella novels) – as well as a variety of other events and pop-up shops/parties to help integrate St. Hrouda into the beautiful community surrounding it.
Now, let’s talk for just a minute about the amazing, spectacularly inspired fashionista behind it all: Nicole Bell. I recently had the opportunity to visit and interview Nicole in her work studio in Brooklyn, just weeks before she began work on opening St. Hrouda. Nicole is From Houston, Texas, and, only a handful of years ago, founded her fashion brand Nicole Bell. Nicole herself is a goofy yet stylishly sassy woman who is taking on the world with long legs and big, brave strides. She never fails to put a smile on my face when I am with her, and her determined outer self never hides the truth of what it really takes to be successful in fashion – life is hard, and making it in fashion is even harder.
Nevertheless, fashion is her passion, and so she is going for it with all she’s got (and then some she’s still figuring out)!
Every time I see a Nicole Bell outfit, my inner Lady Gaga whoops with joy and longing – Ooooh! I want! I want! it always seems to shout, over and over, not unlike a little kid begging for ice cream. Nicole’s designs are impeccable and utterly breathtaking on the powerhouse female front. When I picture my BA* self taking on the world in heels, she’s wearing Nicole Bell. And the world is looking on in awestruck astonishment. 🙂
Do yourself a favor, and give my interview with Nicole Bell a listen. I learned so much about the fashion world, as well as how Nicole comes up with her individual designs and collections/lines. Her sense of gratitude to those who have contributed to her journey thus far – as well as those who continue to contribute and show their support – is clear, as well as her almost unreal dedication to sharing her eye and inspiration with the world through fashion, despite the many, many hardships that have come with her endeavors and that still lie ahead. Nicole does not have it all figured out, and that is just part of the beauty of exploration involved in furthering her passion for fashion.
The talk these days is all about getting to know the people behind our food and our clothing – Buy local is a regular mantra (alongside Know your farmer and Made in the USA, in efforts to support quality products and fair trade, respectively). The woman behind this shop and clothing line is definitely worth getting to know. Especially if you’re in the New York area, give Nicole Bell a solid look – she is local and well worth the visit. And, even if you aren’t in the area, look her up anyway – she’s that good.
When you find yourself interested in learning about the glories, trials, and tribulations of pursuing a love of and passion for fashion, give our interview a listen. If you missed the link above, click here to listen to the interview I did with Nicole!
Definitely check out (and follow) her Instagram accounts for St. Hrouda (@st.hrouda) and Nicole Bell (@nicolebelldesigns) – the photos and videos on there inspire me just about every day.
I’m beginning to feel, after someone asked me about my writing this morning, that the main reason I like and am drawn to writing so much, is that it is an opportunity for me to express myself without being interrupted, put down (directly), or even ignored (noticeably)… I get to be myself and to express myself, no matter who might be nearby.
I’m not sure if I like that or not, though…
I’ll ponder for another day or month or so, and see where it gets me… perhaps it’ll be breathtakingly phenomenal, when I have a breakthrough out of what I find in that pondering.
Have you ever finally realized how you feel about something, – something kind of big – and, rather than be shocked about it, notice that you already knew how you felt deep down, but it was really just a matter of being unwilling to admit it to yourself? I feel like I have been a boy who loves the color pink, and, resisting the color for years for the social construct’s idea of what colors boys are meant to like best, depriving myself of something I love, becoming so good at making excuses not to love pink, that I even began believing my own made-up excuses (and had other people reminding me of the regularly, as though it had been their ideas in the first place, instead of given to them over and over again by me).
Anyway, I’m not actually a boy, and I don’t particularly like the color pink (oddly enough), but I feel as though my situation is similar. I have resisted the dance world for “reasons” of practicality. If you get injured, people’s preferences change, you offend someone, you get sick, you take vacation, or any number of about a bajillion* other things that do not endanger typical job-holders, then you do not make money. Being a professional dancer (of any kind, though I am mostly referencing partner dances, as opposed to the common understanding that being a dancer is synonymous with being an exotic dancer or stripper) is simply dangerously impractical. And so I easily brushed it aside when I was younger, seeing how it clearly is a terrible idea, and so there was no point even to consider it.
In doing that, though, I eventually let my reasoning take over as an excuse for not improving in my dancing, as well as for giving in to my fears, and not speaking up enough or demanding enough that actually would have made a difference in my dance opportunities. But after all, I’m not aiming at a career in this, so why invest more time and money than necessary for a simple pastime or hobby, hmm? A thought which, of course, led me to a sad state of affairs both mentally and performance-wise with dancing. I not only want to be good enough to be one of the professionals, I actually want to be one of them. Period.
And I’ve never actually said that before. It’s kind of terrifying, really, even just considering how much I just might mean all of that. Deep down, I know I mean it. And that in no way changes my surface level of resistance. Well, a tad, but not much – I still don’t want to accept it, because of what all that would mean regarding my past with dance. Granted, I realize that I am the one interpreting things in this way, making them mean this or that. Even still… if I truly want to be a professional dancer, and truly be good enough to be one, as well, then I have spent a good amount of time doing a lot of nothingness, when I could have been actively seeking and working toward my absolutely achievable dance dream. It’ll take a good amount of high quality work, for sure, but that in no way alters the achievability of it.
So then, where does that leave me now, and what steps do I take next and next and next to achieve my dream?
*I have spent most of my life believing that word to be spelled with a g.
Now, I have this strange feeling that I have a somewhat unreasonable but real desire powering me into this next year of my life. It’s not as though I am actively thinking, “This is why I am doing this,” or whatever. It’s more like a secret desire and hope that is hanging out in the background of my mind and life, ever so slightly prodding me to be successful in all of my endeavors.
I am planning out my move back to the US this late summer, and I am emphasizing doing what I love to do, things that bring me true joy and fulfillment, and which easily bring forth the full efforts of my heart. My time here in Japan has shown me that I do, in fact, love teaching, but that there is much more that I want to have be part of my daily and weekly life. (And that I want to eat loads of fruit all the time.) I also still hold that I want to make a comfortable amount of money, to where I can still always buy lunch for my friends, get an extra gelato at midnight, and go on random trips every month-ish. So, I have this really neat and flexible plan for moving back to the States and getting myself in line with all of those things.
The biggest thing that has come up for me in all of this “life searching”, so to call it, though, is my love of children, and finally acknowledging that I want a child of my own, in my own home. With this, of course, also came the acceptance of the idea that I want to adopt a child, and not birth one myself. (Though I’ve never liked the idea of giving birth, it’s certainly not the reason for wanting to adopt, – there’s a whole background to the adoption idea for me – but skipping the pains of birth is a great perquisite to adoption.)
And so, with all of that in mind, I find myself somehow secretly excited about finding a comfortable routine and financial balance in my next year. Even though I know it might not even happen, the idea of being at a place where I could consider adopting, is… , well…, empowering. It excites me about my next set of endeavors, and in a way I have never been excited about things. This one, in a way, is somewhat selfless. Yes, I want the child to be in my life and all. But the whole goal is to give love and everything wonderful to another. So, in a way, it’s like everything I do is for that someone else now. Even if that someone else never ends up coming along for me, it’s an aim, a possibility, that empowers me to be and do the best I can.
I’m not so sure that I did a very good job of expressing all of this, and I know I’ve left loads of it out of the above text, but I just wanted to share it, at least in some degree, with the world. I want a kid. And I want to do what I can to create my beautiful dream life now, so that that kid can join me, and (semi-) soon. 🙂