Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Captivating Collection

I recently discovered the amazingly creative designer, Xiao Li.
She studied BA Womenswear at London College of Fashion and MA Womenswear Knitwear at Royal College of Art, graduating in 2013.In the year of her graduation, she moulded her own hand knit pieces, and using silicone created the most captivating, candy-coloured, whimsical collection.

All images, Google


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mesmerising Music

Illustration by Zoe-Emma

Listening to this song on repeat...


You said things I wouldn't say
Straight to my face, boy
You tossed the egg up
And I found my hands in place, boy
After backing up as far as you could get
Don't you know nobody parts two rivers met?
Don't you know I'm very happy?
You know me well
I'm even happier
I like it
I like it

With all of the time in the world to spend it
Wild and unwise, I wanna be mesmerizing too
Mesmerizing too
Mesmerizing to you

With all of the time in the world to spend it
Wild and unwise, I wanna be mesmerizing too
Mesmerizing too
Mesmerizing to you


Monday, January 25, 2016

My Monday Musing

Let’s talk about postmodernism, the subjectivism of the world today. Let’s discuss our truths that lead us to believe in our facts. There is more than one way of knowing, and knowledge is expressed from our own perspective – let’s agree that this world, our knowledge, and to a large degree, even facts all come with a degree of uncertainty.

Let’s explore art galleries the world over. I want you to tell me how you really feel when you look at Matisse’s Yellow Curtain. Let’s debate the influence of van Gogh’s mental illness on his paintings. Did his art console him, as he intended art to console those who are broken by life?
Let’s compare Klimt’s Golden Phase to the changing leaves on an autumn afternoon.

Let’s talk about the way you can hear Yo Yo Ma’s discipline in the way he plays the cello. Let’s compare that to the fluidity and passion I can hear when Jacqueline du Pré plays the same piece of music. Encourage me to play the cello. Let’s discuss the lyrics of all our favourite songs, and what they mean to us.

Tell me how you carry my heart with you, that you carry it in your heart. Let’s talk about the controversial poetry of E.E. Cummings, let’s talk about prejudice. Let us not judge. I want you to notice how, like Maya Angelou, I rise. I want you to know that my love feeds on your love, beloved, and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine. Let’s remind each other that the Earth and everything that's in it, is ours.

Let’s talk about Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev. Tell me who the Critics Circle National Dance Awards has cited as the greatest names in contemporary ballet. Let’s watch and afterwards discuss Marianela Nuñez’s performance as the Black Swan.

But let’s never talk about me being unable to discuss anything real. These things are as real to me as the Rose Quarts and Serenity colours of the sunset.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Fashion Friday: Gucci S16 RTW

Okay, so I know I am about a pre season late on the uptake of this one… But better late than never, hey?  

This collection though...

It may be one of the most inspiring ranges that I have seen in a long time. I often reflect on my days at college – where we were encouraged to push boundaries, with unusual styling and silhouettes and the unique details and finishes on our garments never went unnoticed. 
It is very different to the price driven, commercial facet of the business that I ended up working in.

This collection, by Alessandro Michele, takes me back to those days… The bold, colourful, eclectic days of creation for expression.

It is the Trompe l'oeil that initially caught my eye in this collection. The illusion of belts, bows and ruffles - Details brought to life by shimmering fabric. Quirky shoes and accessories that stand out, despite the dramatic garments. The combination of lightweight chiffons with shiny embossed brocade and the mixing of bold colours and different prints somehow works really well together - exciting my eyes and inspiring my mind.

All images, Vogue 

I hope you have a fabulous weekend friends!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Laughing Heart

Charle's Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart" read by the gruff, moody voice of Tom Waits.

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Does Dieting Work?

I love me a good TED talk, and with a title like "Why dieting doesn't usually work", there was no way I could pass up watching this talk by neuroscientist, Sandra Aamodt.

I never really battled with my weight until my final year at college. I steadily gained a large amount of weight over the next couple of years, and spent loads of time and money going to various dietitians and nutritionists. I finally went to a doctor who did a wide range of blood tests, and found a few abnormalities. She provided me with a diet and recommended a range of vitamins based on my blood test results. This new eating plan, including the vitamins resulted in rather rapid weight loss. However, not long after this, my weight plateaued. She then recommended an exercise routine, in order to boost my metabolism. Despite being very disciplined with my new routine and eating plan I could not lose any more weight. This was apparently as a result of my Insulin Resistance, and it was at this point that I was advised to go on medication...This lasted all of one week. I had heard many things about the side effects of these tablets, and decided that I was better off not taking them.

There is an abundance of information available with regards to weight loss, coupled with loads of fad diets and eating plans. It is difficult to ascertain what really works. 
I believe the likelihood of a trendy diet or pricey pills and powders, being a solution for unique individuals is near impossible.

I found this talk very interesting, although on some level it made me feel as if my weight loss battle will never be won. None the less, I will continue to make more good choices than bad, in terms of my diet. And I will try to stay active, and interested in exercise. Most importantly, I will learn to love my body.

You can watch the talk here, or read through the transcripts below.

Three and a half years ago, I made one of the best decisions of my life. As my New Year's resolution, I gave up dieting, stopped worrying about my weight, and learned to eat mindfully. Now I eat whenever I'm hungry, and I've lost 10 pounds.

This was me at age 13, when I started my first diet. I look at that picture now, and I think, you did not need a diet, you needed a fashion consult. (Laughter) But I thought I needed to lose weight, and when I gained it back, of course I blamed myself. And for the next three decades, I was on and off various diets.No matter what I tried, the weight I'd lost always came back. I'm sure many of you know the feeling.

As a neuroscientist, I wondered, why is this so hard? Obviously, how much you weigh depends on how much you eat and how much energy you burn. What most people don't realize is that hunger and energy use are controlled by the brain, mostly without your awareness. Your brain does a lot of its work behind the scenes, and that is a good thing, because your conscious mind -- how do we put this politely? -- it's easily distracted. It's good that you don't have to remember to breathe when you get caught up in a movie. You don't forget how to walk because you're thinking about what to have for dinner.

Your brain also has its own sense of what you should weigh, no matter what you consciously believe.This is called your set point, but that's a misleading term, because it's actually a range of about 10 or 15 pounds. You can use lifestyle choices to move your weight up and down within that range, but it's much, much harder to stay outside of it. The hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body weight,there are more than a dozen chemical signals in the brain that tell your body to gain weight, more than another dozen that tell your body to lose it, and the system works like a thermostat, responding to signals from the body by adjusting hunger, activity and metabolism, to keep your weight stable as conditions change. That's what a thermostat does, right? It keeps the temperature in your house the same as the weather changes outside. Now you can try to change the temperature in your house by opening a window in the winter, but that's not going to change the setting on the thermostat, which will respond by kicking on the furnace to warm the place back up. Your brain works exactly the same way, responding to weight loss by using powerful tools to push your body back to what it considers normal. If you lose a lot of weight, your brain reacts as if you were starving, and whether you started out fat or thin, your brain's response is exactly the same. We would love to think that your brain could tell whether you need to lose weight or not, but it can't. If you do lose a lot of weight, you become hungry, and your muscles burn less energy. Dr. Rudy Leibel of Columbia University has found that people who have lost 10 percent of their body weight burn 250 to 400 calories less because their metabolism is suppressed. That's a lot of food.This means that a successful dieter must eat this much less forever than someone of the same weightwho has always been thin.

From an evolutionary perspective, your body's resistance to weight loss makes sense. When food was scarce, our ancestors' survival depended on conserving energy, and regaining the weight when food was available would have protected them against the next shortage. Over the course of human history,starvation has been a much bigger problem than overeating. This may explain a very sad fact: Set points can go up, but they rarely go down. Now, if your mother ever mentioned that life is not fair, this is the kind of thing she was talking about. (Laughter) Successful dieting doesn't lower your set point. Even after you've kept the weight off for as long as seven years, your brain keeps trying to make you gain it back. If that weight loss had been due to a long famine, that would be a sensible response. In our modern world of drive-thru burgers, it's not working out so well for many of us. That difference between our ancestral past and our abundant present is the reason that Dr. Yoni Freedhoff of the University of Ottawa would like to take some of his patients back to a time when food was less available, and it's also the reason that changing the food environment is really going to be the most effective solution to obesity.

Sadly, a temporary weight gain can become permanent. If you stay at a high weight for too long,probably a matter of years for most of us, your brain may decide that that's the new normal.

Psychologists classify eaters into two groups, those who rely on their hunger and those who try to control their eating through willpower, like most dieters. Let's call them intuitive eaters and controlled eaters. The interesting thing is that intuitive eaters are less likely to be overweight, and they spend less time thinking about food. Controlled eaters are more vulnerable to overeating in response to advertising, super-sizing, and the all-you-can-eat buffet. And a small indulgence, like eating one scoop of ice cream, is more likely to lead to a food binge in controlled eaters. Children are especially vulnerable to this cycle of dieting and then binging. Several long-term studies have shown that girls who diet in their early teenage years are three times more likely to become overweight five years later, even if they started at a normal weight, and all of these studies found that the same factors that predicted weight gain also predicted the development of eating disorders. The other factor, by the way, those of you who are parents, was being teased by family members about their weight. So don't do that. (Laughter)

I left almost all my graphs at home, but I couldn't resist throwing in just this one, because I'm a geek, and that's how I roll. (Laughter) This is a study that looked at the risk of death over a 14-year period based on four healthy habits: eating enough fruits and vegetables, exercise three times a week, not smoking, and drinking in moderation. Let's start by looking at the normal weight people in the study. The height of the bars is the risk of death, and those zero, one, two, three, four numbers on the horizontal axis are the number of those healthy habits that a given person had. And as you'd expect, the healthier the lifestyle,the less likely people were to die during the study. Now let's look at what happens in overweight people.The ones that had no healthy habits had a higher risk of death. Adding just one healthy habit pulls overweight people back into the normal range. For obese people with no healthy habits, the risk is very high, seven times higher than the healthiest groups in the study. But a healthy lifestyle helps obese people too. In fact, if you look only at the group with all four healthy habits, you can see that weight makes very little difference. You can take control of your health by taking control of your lifestyle, even If you can't lose weight and keep it off.

Diets don't have very much reliability. Five years after a diet, most people have regained the weight. Forty percent of them have gained even more. If you think about this, the typical outcome of dieting is that you're more likely to gain weight in the long run than to lose it.

If I've convinced you that dieting might be a problem, the next question is, what do you do about it? And my answer, in a word, is mindfulness. I'm not saying you need to learn to meditate or take up yoga. I'm talking about mindful eating: learning to understand your body's signals so that you eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full, because a lot of weight gain boils down to eating when you're not hungry. How do you do it? Give yourself permission to eat as much as you want, and then work on figuring out what makes your body feel good. Sit down to regular meals without distractions. Think about how your body feels when you start to eat and when you stop, and let your hunger decide when you should be done. It took about a year for me to learn this, but it's really been worth it. I am so much more relaxed around food than I have ever been in my life. I often don't think about it. I forget we have chocolate in the house. It's like aliens have taken over my brain. It's just completely different. I should say that this approach to eating probably won't make you lose weight unless you often eat when you're not hungry, but doctors don't know of any approach that makes significant weight loss in a lot of people, and that is why a lot of people are now focusing on preventing weight gain instead of promoting weight loss.Let's face it: If diets worked, we'd all be thin already. (Laughter) Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results? Diets may seem harmless, but they actually do a lot of collateral damage.At worst, they ruin lives: Weight obsession leads to eating disorders, especially in young kids. In the U.S., we have 80 percent of 10-year-old girls say they've been on a diet. Our daughters have learned to measure their worth by the wrong scale. Even at its best, dieting is a waste of time and energy. It takes willpower which you could be using to help your kids with their homework or to finish that important work project, and because willpower is limited, any strategy that relies on its consistent application is pretty much guaranteed to eventually fail you when your attention moves on to something else.

Let me leave you with one last thought. What if we told all those dieting girls that it's okay to eat when they're hungry? What if we taught them to work with their appetite instead of fearing it? I think most of them would be happier and healthier, and as adults, many of them would probably be thinner. I wish someone had told me that back when I was 13.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Super Sweet 16

For the first time in as long as I can remember I am feeling really positive about the year ahead. The first day of 2016 was not filled with the usual anxiety I experience, as I contemplate all of the unknowns that lie ahead.

Looking back, it always seemed that despite trying to be positive that the year ahead would be better than the one that preceded it, there was loads more that life could throw at me. It seems that I needed to be taught certain lessons more than once.

I have no doubt that there are still many things that I need to learn, and challenges I need to overcome, but for some reason I feel better equipped.

Last year I faced some challenges. As a result, I spent a lot of time reflecting, and despite the discomfort, learning and growing from them. As I type this, I feel stronger as a person. I had to learn how strong I could be. I feel more independent, and less afraid of being alone. I enjoy my own company. I am more secure in myself. I have a better understanding of how lucky I am to have been blessed with amazing family and friends. I truly experienced the unconditional love of my mother, and the realisation that she literally is always here for me.

Reflecting on my resolutions for 2015, I am proud to say that I have come a long way in learning to love myself. I have worried a lot less and I managed to de-clutter many aspects of my life. Admittedly, I could have been kinder to my body, and of course there is always room to do more of what one loves… But it is a new year, and I will continue to work towards the same goals I set out to achieve at the beginning of last year.

Wishing all of you a Super Sweet 16!