Gala Darling Adorn Yourself, Adore Your Life Fri, 01 Aug 2014 15:11:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I Woke Up Like This: On Flawlessness, And Admitting The Effort Required Fri, 01 Aug 2014 15:11:32 +0000 What does it mean when we pretend everything comes easy? It’s a good question. I was completely enthralled by a recent article on The Cut, Why Not Admit We Didn’t Wake Up Like This? In fact, I was so enthralled that I thought about it all the way through my shower, and then throughout my long and involved hair, skin and make-up routine!

The sentiment of the article — which essentially states that the Gwyneth Paltrows and Blake Livelys of the world are disliked because they act like everything in their life is effortless — ties in to the quiet backlash to Instagram perfection.

One commenter on The Cut piece said,

Have you all not watched your friends, especially with the insane popularity of Instagram (which I love), seemingly dive into a white-washed, light-soaked BEAUTIFUL life where EVERYTHING is perfectly decorated, meticulously placed, delicious, fresh, all of the wood is reclaimed and they have cocktails and vacation all the time?! This article is about the fake lifestyle that we all are guilty of putting out on the Internet. It’s about the editing out of the grit so that we can appear to have not dealt with it at all. I don’t think it’s stupid to point this out, and I think it’s maybe just a discussion that many people aren’t ready to have yet. … Me, I want to see some anti-lifestyle. I want to know more about the grit. I’m sick of having the perfect Instagram life shoved in my face.

Right on. Every time we mention Instagram at The Blogcademy, we see people smile in wry acknowledgment when we mention being exhausted by “perfectly-curated lives”. We’re all guilty of it: in a world where the more beautiful and picture-perfect your life appears, the more validation you receive, it’s hard to step away. Given the choice between posting something real and something pretty, we almost always err on the side of pretty. After all, that’s what will result in more approval, and isn’t that what Instagram is all about?

It’s not just Instagram. Really, it’s about how we present ourselves to the world. Instagram is a symptom, not a cause. In Why Not Admit We Didn’t Wake Up Like This?, author Ann Friedman presents Kim Kardashian as a counterpoint to Paltrow and Lively.

“Kim K skills,” as Kanye calls them, are all about being ruthlessly strategic and working hard to achieve the life you want. And not being afraid to admit that’s what you’re doing. Kardashian is peddling a path to happiness and success that is no less materialistic than the one promoted by Paltrow or Lively; she’s just up-front about it. Even if you don’t have any desire to take your infant for a walk while sporting glittery eyeliner and a tuxedo jacket taped to your bare, spray-tanned breasts, her embrace of artifice is kind of a relief. Her look screams “effort.” She’s wealthy and beautiful like Lively and Paltrow — but at least she’s not acting like everything came easy.

I’m not a fan of Kim Kardashian, but one thing you can say about her (and the whole Kardashian clan) is that they never make things look easy. They’re straight-up about the effort that goes into looking and living the way they do. Remember when Kim had a “vampire facial”? Do you recall the time she got Botox on camera? Not to mention the shots of Kim’s unblended make-up, wigs, and even her Photoshopped buttstagram? As grotesque a spectacle as I personally find it to be, I appreciate the honesty of it all. Kim Kardashian offers us a front-row seat to see exactly what it takes to make her. (And for those of us who don’t want to know, we can always change the channel.)

Blake Lively and Kim Kardashian spend the same amount of time in the make-up artist’s chair, but only Blake Lively acts as if she doesn’t. The natural look is fine, but no one wakes up like that. It seems to me that women spend an inordinate amount of time trying to look “effortless”: effortless appearance, effortless career, effortless relationship.

Let’s be straight-up: “effortless” is bullshit. Every woman I know is working herself to the bone. Even those of us on the lighter side of life — green juice-drinking, yoga pant-wearing, gratitude list-making — are toiling away to make our life look and feel a certain way. No matter how unconventional your lifestyle, there is still an element of keeping up appearances. It’s insincere – and phony — to admit otherwise.

As Ann Friedman said,

Women have internalized the feminist message that we’re beautiful just the way we are, and we accept that everyone’s life is imperfect, but still can’t stop judging each other — and ourselves. We don’t want to acknowledge what a big role material concerns play in that judgment. So we end up doing much of the same work our foremothers did to appear pretty and stylish and well-rounded, but we pretend it isn’t work. We pretend we aren’t even doing it.

It’s important to be honest about the amount of work that goes into making us look the way we do, the effort we put into our careers, or anything else upon which we place emphasis. And why is it important? It’s important because being upfront about the degree of effort or money you put into something is part of being ethical. Otherwise, anyone who wants to — for example — have the career you have, will have unrealistic expectations about how to get there.

People always want the quick answer, a magic bullet. “What did you do to lose the weight? How come your business is booming? You’re looking so great — what are you doing?” The answer is never an instant, just-add-water type of fix. Inevitably, the actual truth is that you’ve been working at it for a long time.

Want great abs? Eat sensibly and go to the gym (a lot). Want a successful business? Work your ass off, and make smart, informed decisions. Want a fantastic relationship? Make it a priority. All of these things take time, tenacity, and patience. They don’t happen by magic, and when you act like they do, or when you pretend everything was just a happy accident, you do a disservice to others who’d like to emulate some of that success in their own lives.

Living your life with intention is awesome. Having the courage to admit that you have ambition, that you work hard, and that you live your life strategically, is fantastic. Pretending otherwise is disempowering, not just for you, but for everyone else, too.

We can make a great step towards embracing this kind of radical honesty starting online. Take #radicalselflovejuly, for example, which officially ended yesterday, and featured over 14,500 contributions. I’m particularly proud of #radicalselflovejuly and the results it garnered: international babes shared their favourite quotes, their make-up-free selfies, and tributes to their most inspiring friends, in addition to so many other things. There was a strong undercurrent of honesty that ran through the whole month, and meaningless aesthetics were eschewed in favour of truth and reality. It was badass, and I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to get to know my readers a little better.

If you missed out on #radicalselflovejuly, a similar project is #realliferules, created by photographer Emma Case. Taking part in a challenge like this might be exactly the nudge you need to extricate yourself from Pretty Nonsense Land and start putting a little more thought into the images and messages you send into the world.

Sometimes, though, it’s just a case of answering more honestly when someone asks you how you landed that gig, had your first six-figure year, or climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. Usually, it boils down to a little bit of inspiration, and a whole lot of perspiration. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all.


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Things I Love Thursday: Groeten Uit Amsterdam! Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:11:36 +0000 Groeten uit Amsterdam! We arrived in Holland yesterday, after an incredible few days in Berlin. We adventured as far and wide as we could, but feel like we barely even scraped the surface of Berlin. The love affair is in full effect! I was so sad to leave! (New dream: go back every year. Yes, please!)

Today, we’re out and about, soaking up the best of what Amsterdam has to offer. We don’t really have a plan beyond going wherever the wind blows us… I can’t wait!


On the love-o-meter lately… Fizzy apple juice! Getting re-obsessed with Filofax diaries (look out 2015, I’m comin’ to get ya!) Going a little bit crazy on the stationery floor at KaDeWe Walking around Prenzlauer Berg on a gorgeous day Sideways photobooths! Stopping off for ice-cream all the time Very loud yacht rock sing-a-longs in our Berlin apartment Buying silly t-shirts (see below!)  Partying with our Blogcademy babes at our London mixer Finding disco balls in the garden (because, of course) Looking out the window of our place in Berlin to see that our neighbours had a treehouse and a trampoline Reading about emotional vampires  Despite my t-shirt, practicing my German as much as possible  Walking along the East Side Gallery  Stumbling upon a miniature greenhouse within a Mercedes-Benz dealership  Emergency trips to a local cafe for tea and other essentials! 

life is too short to learn german

This weekend, we’re teaching our last European class (Amsterdam) for the year. It’s pretty packed, but if you want to squeeze in, we can make that happen! We’d love you to join us to throw confetti, get some top-notch blogging education, and have a damn good time to boot!

Crazy to think that my next Things I Love Thursday will come from NYC. We’re having the time of our lives in Europe, but I can’t wait to get back to the city to see my man and our puppies.  I miss them like mad!


Top photo by Shell De Mar. She is the best!

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No Matter What Happens, It’s Your Attitude That Matters Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:11:31 +0000 Every day, we have a choice about how we see the world. We can open our eyes wide with wonder, and decide to be amazed and thankful. Or we can choose to approach life with a cynical squint: with our eyes half-closed, we see only the worst in people, circumstances, and situations.

Driving back to our apartment in Berlin yesterday, our friend Shell said, “The way I see it, everyone has to go through the same shit. The only difference is how you approach it. You can smile and say ‘Oh well’ and move on, or you can turn everything into a woe-is-me drama. Making every situation dramatic doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I choose to look on the bright side, because it makes life more pleasant.”

Caught in the rain? Whinge about it, or enjoy the sensations. Stuck in traffic? Grumble and curse, or sing along to your favourite songs. Feeling homesick in a foreign country? Keep thinking about all the things you miss, or fully immerse yourself in the culture.

You can see life as a grand adventure, or as a huge pain in the ass. Up to you!

“Love is not enough; intelligence is not enough; powerful strength is not enough. You may put everything on one side of the scale, but if you are missing gratitude, you shall lose. ” (Yogi Bhajan)

Silver linings and all,

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Carousel: Badass Women, Life-Changing Passwords, And $500 Houses Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:11:19 +0000 Greetings from Berlin! Hoorah! I can’t wait to explore the city with Shauna and Kat. Since I’ve been travelling so much this month, I haven’t done quite as much reading as normal… But I think you will still find plenty here to keep you entertained!

What does it mean to be a wellness coach? I will be speaking at ICWC School this year, so read up, and don’t miss out!

Bulimia comes out of the closet.

The Secret History Of Britney Spears’ Lost Album. Ten years ago, Britney Spears said she was working on an album called Original Doll, but her label denied its existence. The search for Britney’s “lost album,” and the freedom that still eludes her.

Is it time for us to take astrology seriously?

Failure To Launch: How New Mexico Is Paying For Richard Branson’s Space Tourism Fantasy. One of the poorest states in the nation has invested nearly a quarter of a billion dollars and 10 years in creating a hub for Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic. Some see it as the crown jewel of a new space age while others call it a carnival for the 1 percent — but with persistent delays and mounting financial strain, Spaceport America is just trying to avoid becoming New Mexico’s costliest, most futuristic ghost town.

This guy bought a house in Detroit for $500.

The Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee episode featuring Sarah Jessica Parker is probably my favourite of them all.

A beautiful post from Justine, on why perfect cleavage isn’t enough. She also wrote 10 quick thoughts regarding badass women.

Style, then, is how you tell the story of yourself to the world: not just in how you dress, but do what you do and make what you make. Style is your soulprint, your own creative twist on life. It is not some clever affectation that others can copy, but an ever-evolving expression of your passage through the world.

This guy’s password changed his life. Aw! This story gave me tingles.

Clicking their way to outrage. It’s like road rage, but on the internet.

I’m pretty amazed by the world’s most dangerous amusement park. Watch the videos! OMG!

If you were the BEST in the world at what you do, how would you behave?

I am so on board with #healthgoth.

If you’ve just been through a break-up, you may feel temporarily insane. This is why: this is your brain on a break-up.

How is it that we end up marrying the wrong people?

We recreate in adult relationships some of the feelings we knew in childhood. It was as children that we first came to know and understand what love meant. … The love we knew as children may have come entwined with other, less pleasant dynamics: being controlled, feeling humiliated, being abandoned, never communicating, in short: suffering. As adults, we may then reject certain healthy candidates whom we encounter, not because they are wrong, but precisely because they are too well-balanced (too mature, too understanding, too reliable), and this rightness feels unfamiliar and alien, almost oppressive. … We marry the wrong people because the right ones feel wrong – undeserved; because we have no experience of health, because we don’t ultimately associate being loved with feeling satisfied.

Why are straight men so bad at oral sex?

What does Sarah Wilson eat on planes? Some good tips here for healthy international playgirls.

Love People, Not Pleasure: on happiness, unhappiness, fame, and goals.

Some had “intrinsic” goals, such as deep, enduring relationships. Others had “extrinsic” goals, such as achieving reputation or fame. The scholars found that intrinsic goals were associated with happier lives. But the people who pursued extrinsic goals experienced more negative emotions, such as shame and fear. They even suffered more physical maladies.

Who, exactly, is buying J.Crew’s XXXS clothes? Good question. The answer, somewhat predictably, is petite Asian women, their newest market. But mostly this piece is about vanity sizing, and it’s fascinating.

A professor at NYU has started The Casual Sex Project, a collection of stories about one-night stands. Got a tale to tell? Send it in!

The other true story behind Orange Is The New Black. Larry’s story.

Is there a dark side of cosplay?

It’s surprisingly easy to be a fake rich kid of Instagram, because these days, you can just rent luxury.

An artist is sending flowers into space.

12 of the best Humans Of New York posts. Love HONY!

A famous novelist is tweeting a new short story.

I mentioned Unlocking The Truth, a sixth grade metal band, AGES ago. Anyway, they just signed a $1.8 million record deal based off one Youtube video. So badass!

Here’s how to plan a creative retreat.

The daily schedules of creative geniuses. Fascinating stuff.

What’s it like to be an entertainer on a cruise ship?! I mean, wow.

I Left Facebook, And You Can Too. Facebook doesn’t want to strengthen your relationship with loved ones. It wants to strengthen your relationship with Facebook.

20 signs you’re succeeding at life, even if you don’t feel like you are. Awesome!

…And finally, Weird Al Yankovic released a new album, which is hilarious, and he explains how he conquered the internet.



Big love,

Photo by Gray Malin.

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Things I Love Thursday: A European Adventure! Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:11:38 +0000 Good morning! Today is our last day in the U.K. before we jet off to Berlin tomorrow. I’m absolutely beside myself about going back to Germany — I love it there — and in addition to teaching there this weekend, we have Monday and Tuesday free to explore before we head to Amsterdam. The excitement, it is real!

I haven’t been to Berlin or Amsterdam since the very early 2000s, when my boyfriend and I flew all the way from New Zealand to see the Legendary Pink Dots play a few shows. That was my first real trip abroad as an adult, and I am a much more confident traveller these days! It will be wonderful to see those cities through a different lens, with two adventurous babes by my side!


It has been an action-packed trip so far, that’s for sure. I kicked off my first international Radical Self Love Salon last Friday underneath an enormous disco ball (it. was. MAGNIFICENT), and went straight into two days of The Blogcademy at Curtain Road. We had one day off, exploring London — from Shoreditch to Bond Street — before jumping back into another two days of teaching. Madness! But wonderful madness, all the same!


Last night after class, Loulou took Kat, Shauna, Sophie and I to dinner at Shoreditch House. It was pretty amazing: a rooftop pool, unlimited candy, a free photobooth, and a thoroughly ridiculous cast of characters. The food was incredible, too. I had pea and mint soup (my new obsession), grilled salmon with teeny-tiny mushrooms, and a chocolate torte which rocked my world. I also slurped on a lavender cocktail: delicious!

Tonight is our big Blogcademy party and you’re invited! There will be more fun than you can shake a stick at. Come out and dance with us!


On the love-o-meter lately… The splendour that is ABC Carpet and Home (And buying my very first big girl armchair) MAC lipstick (my new favourites are Happy Go Lucky and Show Orchid) Trawling around London with my camera Selfridges! The best! Chad Wys: I love his art so much! Hoi Polloi at the Ace Hotel (our new favourite restaurant) Ginger beer with every meal Pink roses everywhere Gifts of crystals  A thick stack of photobooth strips beside my bed  The pink transparent cutlery at Itsu  Sexy Post-It notes (they exist Playing with the Party Party app Really small (and really big) Diptyque candles Bounty ice-creams Dancing after class Perving in flower shops One-shouldered dresses Tan Towels! A summer essential!

Bunny kisses,

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