Sunday, 1 May 2016

If these walls could talk... Old notes - London

I've never met the family that lives next door. I've never even seen them. Sometimes I hear voices drifting through the brick wall on the staircase side of the house. They sound decent enough. I've seen their cat. It's been sighted inside the house, too. We've since nicknamed it "ghost cat".

Sometimes I shower with the window open. It's the only shower spout with hot water and, without a fan to thin the steam, having the window pried open is a must when you're the third girl in. I really hope that the neighbors haven't seen me either... 

I wonder what they must think of this constant cycle of tall skinny girls. Do they know that it's a model agency flat? Does it ever look like a brothel? Haha - not the soup broth restaurant, Tatyana!  

It took me awhile to find the apartment when I first arrived. A simple matter of confusing the nine in the address for a six. Once I found it I was welcomed in and told there were four bedrooms each with space for one more. The attic they said was empty. 

It's a cute place that kinda mimics a dollhouse. The living room has been converted to a cozy fireplace room for three. Go straight past the staircase and there's the kitchen dining room combo. Up the creaky wood staircase are the other rooms plus our main (and mainly avoided) 'lou'. Opposite the top of the staircase is the attic spiral stair. Which everyone agrees is adorable.

I was tired and barely managed to lug my luggage to the first available room. In the other bed a just-turned-eighteen Galaxia spoke in Spanish to her family in Dominican Republic. The next day I couldn't resist moving up the spiral stairs.

And I'm glad I did because it's amazing. No patio but the windows rotate open on a middle hinge to reveal a rooftop view of the neighborhood. It's clean and quaint. A staircase that's classy but too intimidating for new arrivals - so I have it to myself. The main downside is it's lack of a door. In an already rickety house I can hear everything and I wake up with the earliest riser. Usually that's Tatyana. It's good, though, because I enjoy being a morning person. And some days I can't resist opening the window in early daylight just to sing "a dream is a wish your heart makes" from Cinderella. I wonder if that story is set in London...

So here's to you, undisclosed Fulham SW6 address #modelapartment. It's been good. A bit of a love/hate relationship, but good. 

Because I can understand where you're coming from. Despite our good intent, this constant cycle of abuse is wearing you down. What have they done to you to make you rebel so bitterly? Who was it? Which fashion season?

It's a lack of commitment on both parts. You'll have to excuse us for being slobs when we're only here for a month or a week. Now you have Ella, though, and she'll take care of you for a consistent year. 

I think we've gotten along well enough, you and I. You know I'm a scaredy cat and you easily could've kept me on timid alert through long attic nights. Speaking of cats, was it you who let the neighbor cat get in? Never mind, I guess it's not important. I hope it managed to catch our house mouse.

And admit it, you have a soft spot for me! Staying quiet when we smoked sheisha even though when we cooked Sheena's get-well-soon breakfast you set off the smoke alarm. Was it the broken fridge handle that set you off and made you permanently lock the washing machine? You poor thing, you're falling apart at the seams.

It's going to be ok. Change is healthy. Be gentle to the new girls, they have a lot to learn. This industry is harsh and I'm sure you've become an expert on diets and disorders throughout the years. Sometimes I think you enjoy pulling pranks on us, but please try to keep it to a minimum. We're judged on our appearance and need a working shower and washing machine. I'm serious about the washing machine. Please give it back.

xo and until next time :)

- Michelle C

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Simple As That.

Dani Hayes is from New Zealand, we met in New York and we’ve managed to stay in contact ever since. I am very happy to feature her interview in my project since she is as close to an expert on experience as is possible for the subject. I asked Dani a handful of questions about her take on what personality is. Below is a fragment of our conversation via email and skype:

First off I wanted to get a feel for her own description of what personality is. She answered that it’s “the characteristics or the lively engaging qualities of someone that makes them distinctively unique. Influenced by others with whom you engage with daily and the environment that you're in. Therefore personalities do differ from people who live in the country to people who live in the bigger cities.”

Dani's got that ‘cool factor’ that so many people strive for. In the model world we’re told to show personality - and Dani has owned that even if she laughs at the idea of it. It’s something that clearly comes from an exposure to many environments, people and situations. “Most of my influences come from my family and my closest friends. Anyone basically who can influence me to think differently and experience differently.”

Experience is essential to personality, in fact it nearly is personality, since we are an expression of our surroundings. It’s an idea I’ve put forward in my project intro. Dani explained it as: “From the get-go everybody has been put into a system of some sort and has been taught a way to learn etc. As long as you can break those barriers and put yourself in different situations you learn to appreciate people in a different way.”

I asked Dani to think back to a time when she experienced a personal evolution, and then to describe how or why her point of view was changed.

“Earlier this year I experienced a great loss, a very close cousin of mine had passed away in a tragic accident. I was in Paris when I heard of the news and as fast as I could I packed my bags and got to the airport. I jumped on the next flight home. It took me two days to get back to New Zealand, just in time for Poroporoaki (usually held the night before burial day it consists of eulogies, or farewell speeches to the dead, and contains beautiful songs and stories told).

“My cousin was one of the most influential people in my life, she taught me about life and what it has to offer. She taught me Confidence, she helped me grow into the person I am today and yet I felt I still had much to learn. When the news of her broke it felt as though my entire world had changed, in which it did, so quickly. Someone who had meant so much to me was no longer here.  It changed me in a way that I realized I could no longer be influenced by her, I had to adjust to life without her.

“Since then, I have evolved myself into a better me,with all the same qualities, it's a process of time and redevelopment from within.  Building that personality back up and regaining the confidence, it's always been there it’'s just that grieving took more control over me than I thought.”

Dani’s level of positivity is one thing that has influenced me since we’ve met. She makes an important point - it’s not just change that’s important, it’s understanding how that change changes you. Without this understanding we go blindly forward and are unable to adjust to the world around us. Sometimes those changes can make us feel like we have become a different person than we were before. I asked about how she views personal evolution. She comments that “it’s always healthy to change. Always. You always need to evolve. I mean, you think back to the time you first started walking, and then to the time you first started running... It’s a process of evolution from the day we are born.”

Dani’s advice:

“Keep learning. Put yourself into different situations. Different experiences. Different scenarios. Put yourself into situations where you have to think outside your own box.” I asked for a specific example, and she offered one thing that we can all try.

“Let’s say you brush your teeth with the right hand - try for 2 weeks brushing your teeth with your other hand and you’ll begin to see how your brain will start to think differently.”

So, you see? Simple as that.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

"What Doesn't Kill You"

 If there’s one thing I’ve come to appreciate while traveling, it's crossing paths with other travelers. I’ve been able to connect with amazing people during phases of personal growth both shared and individually. And, for many of those people, that connection exists outside of time and distance. Carolyn Proteau is one such person.

I met Carolyn during my first and most memorable model trip to New York City. It was the first NYC fashion week for both of us. I’m very happy to have her input on ‘Project Wake-Up’ because her exciting energy has left a lasting impression on my own life.
In the intro (link here) I put forward some ideas about what contributes to confidence. Experience. Calm. Motivation. I’ve asked Carolyn if any of these in particular resonated with her own view on confidence:
“Without my experiences modeling, and those times in NYC, I wouldn’t be who I am now. I thought I was myself. I’m still the same person, I was just too afraid to speak up and assert my input. In those moments it feels like you’re not that far from where you were. Looking back - wow. I’m so much happier now and I’m in a better place.
"When other people tell you who you should be or who you should be like… it’s difficult to avoid being influenced by that. It was honestly a real struggle for me because, by nature, I’m a people pleaser. So when they say 'you have a big nose' or 'your forehead is too big' or 'we wish you were blonde', just know that you can’t please everyone. The way you perceive yourself is not always the way others perceive you. Once I learned that I was much more at one with myself."
Models might be asked by agents or clients to undergo 'makeovers' to create excitement over a new, marketable image. The blonde mention? Not a joke. I wanted to know more about how such an extreme change influenced Carolyn in the days after we parted ways.
"When I came home I had a total melt down. An identity crisis. I came home with a completely different look and my friends were like 'oh my god'. And with the blonde hair - I would look in the mirror and I was looking at a whole other person.
"I also found out around this time that the guy I was seeing had been cheating on me - with my best friend - while I was gone. I started thinking 'am I not good enough?'. I wasn't so upset that he had cheated on me. I was more upset that someone had cheated on me. So yeah, it was a whole thing.
"I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was going to get a nose piercing and I was going to get a tattoo. And thank goodness my friends talked me out of it. I think everyone goes through phases where they’re not sure what they’re doing with their life. When everything piles up at once."
I asked Carolyn for her advice to people when they are in those moments.
"Respect yourself. You're allowed to have off days - but don't allow them to take over your life. I’d also say be comfortable with yourself and don’t be afraid to take risks. Be open to new ideas and 'try everything once'."
Carolyn was able to skype me from Canada between classes and I'm extremely happy to have her input on confidence. She's focusing on psychology and neurological science in university - so I hope to hear more from her later in the project!
And the boy?
"I left him. We go to the same university now. I see him around and he acts like he doesn’t know me. And I’m okay with that. It worked out great because now I have a really nice guy. I'm a believer in everything happening for a reason."
My interview with Carolyn has sparked a lot of thought. What has especially caught my interest has been the talk about overcoming expectations and self-limitations. This is a point where I see my three keys of confidence - experience/calm/motivation - merging.
It takes stressful situations to awaken a clearer confidence. Stress is a sign demanding you to recognize a change in your life. Recognizing the need for change brings the peace of self awareness (calm). Motivation is needed to overcome stress and adapt to the life change.
Carolyn's motto "Try Everything Once" I also think comes two fold. Because a life change can only challenge you until you act on it. Don't let anything challenge you twice xo


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Giving Thanks To Point Of View

The little things.
And the major life events.
Influences make you who you are. Where you were born, your family, school, work, pop culture - we are interpreters of our surroundings. And yet, all of us are born with the same genetic materials. So how come our 100 billion neurons interpret situations differently?
Fittingly, today is Thanksgiving Day back in the states - making this an appropriate time to appreciate the people and cultures that make us who we are. Your parents give you genetics (life). Your society gives you opportunity. The world gives you resource. From the moment you are born, your neurons are connecting and reconnecting to form a constantly progressing point of view. And thus emerges the individual. You are an expression of accumulated reaction.

The point that I’m trying to boil down to is this: we are who we are because of the people and circumstances around us. We might not be born with our mother’s patience or our father’s ambition, but our character traits come from those closest to us. Now would be a good time to thank those people who have inspired your good side.

Appreciating family, for me, has become much more important over the past couple of years, most likely because I’m traveling and spending the majority of my time away. Still, that sheltered “bubble” I grew up in is at the core of who I am. Religion. Education. Politics. These things and more create your rules for interacting with the world around you. But family is the strongest influence we have. The one life-long constant. It’s during childhood that your “world map” is created. That world map is adapted into adulthood where friends, acquaintances and strangers begin playing primary roles in influencing who you are.

We owe a lot to our family and culture. They’ve provided us with the building blocks we now get to play with to create our place in the world. On this Thanksgiving Day try to analyze what you’re most thankful for and how those things have influenced you.

Still, influences do not define us. That's done through the way we use those influences to react. Either consciously or not. At the end of the day, you have control over which character traits you choose to reflect and which ones you choose not to. Are the people around you thankful for the influence you are?
Happy Thanksgiving Day :)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I Can Explain... Intro To "Project Wake-Up"

Our experiences - the moments that forge who we are - can never be merged. In addition, perception is constantly changed with the more we experience... meaning that my perception  might not apply to everyone or even myself as the years change my viewpoint. That being said, however, life phases are definable. And that is the platform for this blog project. I want to explore the phenomenon that is personality. And I invite you to join me.

Personality, for modeling and many careers, is considered an essential. But no one knows how to define it or really even describe it. My first time traveling for modeling to New York City began with a roller coaster of emotions. I remember those mornings, afternoons and evenings in the café downstairs stressing collectively with my roommates. A regular topic: How the hell are we supposed to unlock our ‘wow factor’? If you force yourself to be more talkative - you’re obnoxious. If you’re too quiet - you’re invisible. What’s the formula to a perfect personal aura?!

Well, time has passed since then. And even though I haven’t found the exact formula, I do know what has helped me since that first fashion week. I can’t fit too much detail in this intro post, but here are a couple of hints towards what I’ve found to be most beneficial. In the next posts I’ll be going into further depth and having guest input.

Experience. The ups, the downs, the run arounds. These are necessary to form your world view. Distance yourself from what you know in order to find what you understand. Spread your energy into developing passions. Find joy in the simple things. Experience takes time and can’t be faked. You have to constantly invest in yourself. And remember - your life is a collection of experiences already. Evaluate your childhood, adolescence and adulthood to your current point. The fond along with the not so fond. Appreciate the who, what and how you currently are.

Calm. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have had a good deal of bitterness hold me back in the past. From stress, from lack of communication (mostly on my part), from unreal expectations or flawed interpretations. Exhale those away. Trust yourself and the people around you - that way your genuine self can come through. I want to point out that calm IS NOT numb. If you’ve numbed yourself into the flow of circumstances, you are not experiencing. Calm is taking in the moment, understanding how you’ve come to that moment, and accepting where it might lead you. I’m not perfect in this and I doubt that anyone is.

Motivation. You have the power to influences your circumstances. The world is better connected now than ever before, and if you’re passionate about something you can make it happen. I’ve struggled with this one, reserving myself to ‘numbness’ and allowing events to play themselves out. That’s time lost to an irretrievable past. The future, however, can always be acted on. I suggest we all strive towards making ourselves better than the day before.

Confidence. It’s a combination of all these things. Experience. Calm. Motivation. When you understand yourself, you understand others and the world around you. When you have experienced a life phase, you can understand and relate to others currently in that life phase. Confidence is that ‘personal aura’ I mentioned before. Saying things that matter instead of trying to fill the silence with nonsense. It’s style and interest.

I intend to explore how people perceive confidence. My hope is that this exploration can be as useful to others as it has been to me. More to come. xo

Monday, 21 July 2014

Let's Try Again

Hmmm... that went well.

Nevermind that I didn't post... anything... while I was in NYC. The experience helped me grow as a person and I guess you'll never know the full details! Work-wise the season was unbearably slow, but time was made bearable by having my friends in town. Anne Lise (who I met before in Tokyo) added all sorts of inspiration when I accompanied her during her art projects. Former roommates Blair (NYC + Tokyo) and Dani (NYC) were able to be in the city during the same time period. I moved over to Williamsburg to room with those two and we had all sorts of adventures together! Not to mention Pudge Knuckles, my favorite café, made the stay stellar once more. My "granoatmeal" might be featured soon on the menu. As a side note, I think there's no better way to experience a city than to find your center and regular 'quiet spot'. In Tokyo the regular café was MUD - which, as it turns out, has one other location. But... the one in NYC isn't nearly as good, unfortunately.

Mostly fond memories in Williamsburg. Coffee, checkers and coffee, ping pong in the amenities room and rooftop BBQs characterized our time there. One alcoholic roommate and the rest were 'kindred spirits'. I miss them as I type this!

I am currently in Utah. There will be a big family reunion soon, which I am very happy to be joining, then it's off to Europe! Details to come soon.

And that's that.

While in NYC I started handing out questionnaires to models - a psychology experiment - and I'll be trying to interpret and post my findings here.

On the language front I've been trying to learn some more Italian songs, since it's likely I'll end up in Italy. Even though it's not a serious commitment to language learning, I am picking up a few words here and there. Featured artist right now: Lara Fabian

Most recently I copied down and memorized "Je Suis Malade" by Lara Fabian which translates to "I'm Sick" (love sick, for clarification)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Perdere l'amore - Massimo Reniere

My Italian obsession right now, "losing the love" is a sad and passionate song about the harsh passage of time. Listen with English translation here:

Perdere l'amore

E adesso andate via
voglio restare solo
con la malinconia
volare nel suo cielo
non chiesi mai chi eri
perchè scegliesti me
me che fino ad ieri
credevo fossi un re

Perdere l'amore
quando si fa sera
quando tra i capelli
un pò d'argento li colora
rischi di impazzire
può scoppiarti il cuore
perdere una donna
e avere voglia di morire

Lasciami gridare
rinnegare il cielo
prendere a sassate
tutti i sogni ancora in volo
li farò cadere ad uno ad uno
spezzerò le ali del destino
e ti avrò vicino

Comunque ti capisco
e ammetto che sbagliavo
facevo le tue scelte
chissà che pretendevo
e adesso che rimane
di tutto il tempo insieme
un uomo troppo solo
che ancora ti vuol bene

Perdere l'amore
quando si fa sera
quando sopra al viso
c'è una ruga che non c'era
provi a ragionare
fai l'indifferente
fino a che ti accorgi
che non sei servito a niente

E vorresti urlare
soffocare il cielo
sbattere la testa
mille volte contro il muro
respirare forte il suo cuscino
dire è tutta colpa del destino
se non ti ho vicino

Perdere l'amore
maledetta sera
e raccogli i cocci
di una vita immaginaria
pensi che domani
è un giorno nuovo
ma ripeti non me l'aspettavo
non me l'aspettavo

Prendere a sassate
tutti i sogni ancora in volo
li farò cadere ad uno ad uno
spezzerò le ali del destino
e ti avrò vicino