Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The ups and downs of a jewelry designer, slash dreamer.

My very simple jewelry sidewalk set up,
on a NON sunny California day.
This past weekend I had a hard time wanting to set up my jewelry stand at the local surf shop, Mission Surf. I had done it two days in a row at that point, and three times the week before. It's pretty incredible to be able to work for myself. Being able to sit outside in the warm (mostly) California sun is pretty amazing. I regularly set up my jewelry tables in a part of San Diego, California, that is known for partying and day-drinking. I come into contact with a lot of young, drunk people. After a while it gets annoying to have to interact with drunk people, and watch them closely so they don't knock over my display. It's disappointing seeing such spastic behavior ranging from college kids to adults well into their 50's. My hope is that their stuper is not a regular activity. After a while it's as if  they are not actually individuals passing by. I see the same shenanigans, insecurities, arrogance, loud-mouthed, group-clowns, chemical dependent, and sloppy-drunk personalities; who are always in an altered state of mind.

Not only does my clientele consist of mostly drunks, I don't always make the best profit. Sometimes I walk away with no sales at all. That's a risk I'm aware of and willingly take. This weekend I hit a breaking point and Sunday, just after waking up, I started crying. I felt like I'd been putting in more work and getting little in return. At the rate I'm going, it's financially not worthwhile long-term.  I ultimately know that jewelry is not my "destiny" and it's not what I'm meant to do well into my senior years. I never believed it was anyway, but I didn't know my desire to do it as a form of income would begin to wane this soon. Don't get me wrong, I love it. I love the creative process. I get giddy at seeing my designs completed, and I love how I feel a download of creativity during the process. Maybe I'm gifted, or perhaps I just know how to tap into a source, or a "muse" as Steven Pressfield calls it in his book The War of Art . Ultimately, I enjoy the creative aspect.

I have to acknowledge that I am living a dream I've had for years. I created a vision board years ago and repeatedly wrote and spoke of my desire of living by the beach, waking up when I wanted, and having the freedom to walk my dog anytime of the day. I achieved that dream! And surprisingly (or not) I didn't reach the level of happiness and eternal bliss I thought I might. Lesson learned. Looking back I'm just stoked that I took the steps to at least pursue the gutsy dream of leaving the work force and doing my own thing.

Perhaps I'm seeking to find my "flow", something where I lose track of time and can generate enough income to where I'm not scraping by. Somewhere within me there is a disconnect, and I'm on a path to finding it. After journaling my frustrations Sunday night, I realized it was time to fast and drink only liquids with the intention of getting clarity and direction. I've fasted before and have always experienced insight. As of today, I'm on my third day of fasting and have gone 65 hours without food. That's not the point though. I stated previously I'm on a journey, a little self discovery, and I'm in a state of inquiry. It's not like what I have experienced before. For example, I've always looked at "what's next." No, this time it's different, it's deeper and I can't put it into words. As of right now, I have little insight and I'm remaining open.

Sunday, my first day of fasting.
Note the gallon of water in hand.
As part of my fasting, I've been reading books and watching documentaries that seem to "call" to me. I watched Euphoria today. It's a peculiar film, but a few things were mentally stimulating to say the least. I had an "ah-ha" moment when the narrator stated the following:

"What a paradox our nature is, to offer us euphoria as a reward for pursuing something else. To make happiness unattainable as a goal, but then supply it plentifully along the paths we find most meaningful.  And to provide the best escape from the tedium of day to day, when we engage most deeply."

I'll leave it at that. As for now, my heart and mind remain ajar.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

She sold her belongings, quit her job, and went to see the world!

Michelle (Mish)

My friend Michelle  is gorgeous, adventurous,
smart, and incredibly funny... so inevitably I like her and follow her blog as she's out TRAVELING THE FRIGGIN' WORLD!! Oh yah, and her boyfriend is smoking hot and willing to participate in what I think might be her own hairbrained (but genius) ideas. Michelle, also known as Mish, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions while she's out traipsing the globe!

The interview was done on April 4th, so I'm a few weeks late posting this, my apologies. I hit a few schedule and technical bumps, but who's counting, right?! ;)

Without further adieu, the wonderful Mish every body!

Sarah (S): So as of April 4, 2013, how many days have you been traveling and where are you at right now?
Michelle (M): Today marks 138 days of travel {wow} and I am currently sitting in our room in Chiang Mai, Thailand typing this to you!

S: You’re from San Diego, California, you had a full time job last year and made plans with your main squeeze Verner, otherwise affectionately known as V Dizzle, to go set your peepers on sites on the other side of the globe. You’ve been to Spain, Italy, and Thailand. What’s the next stop?

M: Well, after our first month in Thailand, we headed out to Malaysia, Bali, and Vietnam. But then we found that we really loved and missed Thailand, so we decided to head back for another month to explore!
So far, we spent a few weeks in Phuket, now we’re in Chiang Mai and then next week we go to Bangkok!
After Bangkok, we head to Amsterdam! We’re pretty excited because not only is V Dizzle’s mama from Amsterdam, but she will be meeting us there, along with my own mom, to spend 8 days with us there. We haven’t seen them in quite some time, so it’ll be really fun, I’m sure. Maybe we can convince them to eat some “special brownies” with us. Just kidding. Sort of.

S: For those reading who don’t know much about you (yet), it was a bit of a grapple for you to let go and sell some of your belongings before leaving the country. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to whittle down their own belongings?

M: I can definitely tell you that what I once thought was a big deal in getting rid of 95% of my things has now proven to not be the case at all. In fact, I can hardly even remember what I left behind or sold. I remember crying when I sold my Louis Vuitton bag. Crying! It’s embarrassing to think about now, but I guess I just needed to purge, physically and emotionally, before setting off on this journey of ours. I’ve learned that things are just that: things. We have somehow put so much value and meaning into them. Everything I now own literally fits inside one suitcase. It’s a very freeing feeling and I’ve learned to live off less and appreciate what little I do have. Though, I will be honest and say that I am completely sick of every piece of clothing I own and hope I don’t go too hog-wild in the shopping department when we get back.

S: I’ve always imagined that my world-travel packing would consist of timeless, classic, flowing pieces to ensure I look fabulous in all my photo’s, and then another thought creeps in and destroys my picture-perfect idea, and I conclude that I would probably pack some ugly walking shoes, jean shorts, and a handful of sweat-wicking tank tops. I’ve noticed a good variety of outfits in your travel pictures, and you’re friggin adorable! How did you decide what to pack for clothing and accessories and how many items did you end up taking with you?

M: Bless your heart for thinking I look at all any version of “adorable.” I look at all of my pictures and feel like I’m wearing the exact same outfit in every photo. It was definitely a bit of a challenge to whittle everything down to just one suitcase, while having to plan ahead for extremely cold weather in Europe, followed by extremely hot weather in Southeast Asia.

Here’s a list of what finally made the cut:

2 pairs of pants (blue jean skinnies and black jean skinnies)
1 pair of jean shorts
1 pair of black leggings
2 bras (1 tan, 1 black – both Victoria’s Secret with convertible straps)
20 pairs of undies (though, I probably could have brought 10 and been just fine)
10 pairs of socks
2 sports bras
3 sweaters
1 Zip-up hoodie
1 parka (that was tossed in the dumpster on our last day in Europe, heading to Thailand. Goodbye and good riddance!)
3 L/S shirts
5-7 T-Shirts
5-7 Tank-Tops
1 Maxi-Dress
2 or 3 blouses for those “dress-up” days
Victoria’s Secret sweatpants
1 beanie
1 scarf
1 pair of gloves
1 pair of high heels (though, let me tell you, I have literally only wore once in Rome to which I regret because I suffered a major blister afterwards. If I were to do it again, I wouldn’t bring ‘em)
2 pairs of boots (1 brown, 1 black – and have since thrown out the black ones after wearing them down from all of the walking in Europe)
1 pair of Rainbow flip-flops
2 pairs of sandals (1 brown, 1 black – Though, again, haven’t really worn them much. I stick to my Rainbows most days now. Sexy, I know.)
1 pair of running/work-out shoes (for all of that running I do. Kidding. I think I’ve ran 3 times in the last 5 months.)

{…it surprisingly seems like a lot of shoes now that I’m typing this out.}

I can easily say that I could have taken way less!
I have definitely dumped several items as we’ve gone along.

S: I’m fully aware that there is a very LARGE mixed bag of styles out there, and I’m dying to know what other women are doing globally in regards to fashion. Is there a particular city that stands out to you where the women have grabbed your attention with either their style or the way the carry themselves, or both?

M: I was hoping to come up with a mind-blowing response to this question, but the immediate thoughts that come to me are from what I’m seeing here in SE Asia for the past few months – which is: Not much. It’s been so hot, that most women are just throwing some shorts and a t-shirt on with flip-flops. Although, I have noticed that the majority of women here are a lot more modest than Westerners and even if it’s 100 degrees out, they still cover up with pants and a long-sleeve t-shirt. But then of course, you have the small group of women who still love to wear the designer brands and high heels, no matter how out of place it seems as you’re waltzing down a dirt road with sweat dripping down your back.

We had a layover in Kuwait once and most all of the women were wearing the full-length, long-sleeved black abayas, while also having their hair and sometimes face covered. But even being fully covered, you could spot the ones that were more “fashion foreword” with their designer shoes and handbags, which I thought was interesting and reminded me a lot of that scene in Sex and the City 2 when they’re in Abu Dhabi.

For the most part though, other countries have “westernized” themselves quite a bit and it’s not too far off from what you’d see in America; there are different groups and different trends ranging from high-end fashion to the laid-back look.

S: Europeans are pretty dang stylish, and I’ve believed them to be a bit ahead of us Americans. Report back to me Mish, how would you compare the State’s (specifically SoCal’s) style to Europe’s attire?

M: SoCal is far more relaxed and laid back than European wear, that’s for sure. And you’re right; the Europeans definitely seem to be very fashion-forward. It’s probably convenient that most cities are lined with every high-end designer you can think of. I just want to know how they can afford it all! I would also like to know how all of the women can wear high heels every day, all day, no matter the function. Us SoCal girls don’t tend to do that very often. I know I personally prefer flats and sandals than kill myself with heels.

S: You’ve done a bit of shopping, for example your incredible $7 swimsuit buy! What other style(s) are you going to sport when returning to the states?

M: Since we’ve been on a budget, I’ve actually had to refrain myself from purchasing anything new. I did really good while I was in Europe and didn’t buy a single article of clothing except a pair of gloves, can you believe it? I was pretty proud of myself. But then we got to Thailand and everything was so cheap! So I bought myself a couple of sun dresses and a few tank tops. Mostly because I was just so sick of everything I had by then. I’d like to say I’ll be bringing them back to the states so I can continue wearing them, but to be honest with you, I’m probably going to toss them. Like I mentioned before, I’m going through an “I hate literally everything in my suitcase” stage. So, let’s just say I am very much looking forward to some Forever 21 and H&M shopping when I get back (got to still stick to a somewhat budget until I can find a job again).

S: Your blog is incredibly entertaining, funny, and relatable. I’ve definitely been living vicariously through you since well before your departure. Are you finding it easy or difficult to write and post while you’re globetrotting?

M: It’s actually been a lot easier to write than I thought it would be. We have a very flexible schedule and make sure to throw in a lot of down time as well. Plus, I’m experiencing so many exciting things on the daily, that I usually can’t wait to get back to our hotel so I can blog about it!

S: You’ll be returning to the States soon, what’s the first self-pampering thing you’ll be indulging in upon your return?

M: Pedicure, pedicure, pedicure! This is the longest I have ever gone without one. I’ve brought a few nail polishes along with me and have been doing it myself, but I am very much looking forward to a proper scrub down!

S: Where can we find you and follow you? (Not literally of course)

M: I blog daily at Mish Lovin’ Life: www.mishlovinlife.com
And I update our travel blog after each new place at Filling In The Dots: www.fillinginthedots.com
But you can also connect with me on Twitter (@mishlovinlife) and Instagram (@mishlove) – slightly obsessed with those.

Mish, Verner, and a baby Tiger... awwwwwww