Category: goals

On How to be Audrey Part III

So I’ve been working on my self-control with not snacking during the day (which is harder than I thought! But apples are a good and healthy snack to fool your stomach. Not quite as good as peanut butter cups though), and my discipline with exercise. I’ve even decided to go to a gym once a week and work with a trainer. It’s something I’d thought about in the past but it seems like now is a good time to just do it. I know I’ve got the potential to be healthier and stronger than I am, and I don’t want to regret waiting any longer than I have! It’s one of those things I never felt that I could afford, but I feel like my body needs it, and what better time than now? I have to fit into all of these gorgeous tiny vintage dresses that I adore!

In this post, I’m going to cover Audrey Hepburn’s style, and look at how I can apply her fashion sense to my own wardrobe. What we choose to wear, or how we choose to wear what we have, is one way in which we shape the image of ourselves that we present to the world. Everything we wear says something about us. About how we see ourselves, or how we want to see ourselves. About our status, our preferences and priorities. It is in many ways an outward projection of our inner selves. Or at least as much of ourselves as we want to let others see. And personally, my wardrobe has not always really reflected who I was or am. I had always wanted a large vintage wardrobe, because that was what I loved, but it was always easier and more affordable to buy the latest trends. In high school I would shop at the Goodwill and other thrift stores, but usually what I found was not in good condition. I’ve finally decided that it’s time to revamp my wardrobe into what I’ve truly been wanting. However, even putting together your vintage style takes a little thought and planning! Audrey to the rescue…

“Some people dream of having a big swimming pool – with me it’s closets!” Audrey

On How to be Audrey, Part III – Style

In 1949, when Audrey was living in London and working in the theatre, her wardrobe was quite different from how most of us think of her.

“She had one skirt, one blouse, one pair of shoes, and a beret, but she had fourteen scarves. What she did with them week by week you wouldn’t believe. She’d wear the little beret on the back of her head, on one side, on the other side – or fold it in two and make it look very strange. She had the gift, the flair of how to dress.” Nickolas Dana, High Button Shoes dancer

1949 – Audrey with one of her scarves!

Audrey had less than most of us do in her closet when she was starting out. And her method of making it work for her was to get creative! You can make almost any outfit look new and different by changing up your accessories. I would love to see what Audrey did with those scarves (I could use the inspiration). She was so innovative with clothing that at one point, to earn extra money, she would purchase plain little hats to embellish and re-sell. Now that’s inspiring me…. and making me wonder where all of these hats ended up. A hat made by Audrey Hepburn, wouldn’t that be a treasure!

1953 – Still loving scarves!

When she left for France to work on Nous Irons à Monte Carlo, her co-stars Geraldine and Cara gave her some of their own clothes, seeing as she didn’t have much of a wardrobe. And apparently they all bought their first bikinis at the Monte Carlo Beach Club!

Eventually, with more work and more money, and a new friend in Givenchy, she settled on what would become her signature style. Casually, she would be seen wearing pedal pushers or cigarette pants, with a button-up shirt tied around the waist. Formally, she favoured dresses without patterns or details that would date it, in flattering cuts with very defined waistlines.

In 1962 she gave an interview to the Baltimore Sun and went into great detail about her fashion sense. I will let Audrey take over now.

“I have come to realize two important factors about myself. First of all, my coloring lacks definition. I therefore prefer to wear black, white or muted colors such as beige or soft pinks or greens. These colors tend to make my eyes and hair seem darker whereas bright colors overpower me and wash me out.

Secondly, I am quite tall and of angular build. Therefore I don’t wear padded or squared shoulders and often cheat on my armholes and collars to give an illusion of narrow rather than wide shoulders. I wear low-heeled shoes to give the impression that I’m smaller than I am.

Another thing I have learned, in order to avoid the cliché, “I don’t have a thing to wear” in spite of a closet full of clothes, is to prepare a clothes chart for the coming season, just as I do when handed a script of a new movie. I start by writing down all the things I have and then eliminating the ones I feel I’ve worn out or outdated. Then I try to visualize what my needs will be during the upcoming season, all, of course, depending on where I might be. I then go about buying rather purposefully just the things I need to fill any gaps, such as a new suit or a coat or dinner dress.

As I rarely have time for shopping, I have to plan ahead, which saves me from being tempted by that one dress I shall never wear.

Also, I have a problem which is peculiar to my nomadic existence and that is packing. I try to travel with as little as possible. This brings me to my next point, which is to buy things adaptable for many, rather than just one, occasion. That is another reason why I like conservative colors such as beige or black, which will look right at almost any hour of the day or evening and in almost any weather.

This enables me, too, to cut down on accessories. I have only black or beige shoes and bags and wear only white three-quarter-length gloves. The only exceptions are an evening purse and one pair of white satin shoes.

The principal contributive factor to the way I dress is that I am fortunate enough to be married to a fashion-conscious man by the name of Mel Ferrer, whom I think has infallible taste.

It is tremendously rewarding for a woman to have a husband who notices. Mel has a real interest in clothes, and we enjoy choosing my things together. I have become greatly dependent on his taste and guidance. After all, I think any woman dresses mostly for the man in her life.” Audrey

And as a bonus, she gave “Four Rules for the Hepburn Look”

 

Four Rules for the Hepburn Look

Audrey also didn’t wear much jewelry. A pair of hoop earrings were a favourite early on, and she always had a pair of pearl earrings on hand. Occasionally she would wear a bracelet, and never a watch (She had been noted saying that she strongly disliked the initial cold of the metal when touching her skin and the heaviness of the watch).

I also have to mention that Audrey did NOT always dress up. She wore t-shirts and cozy sweatshirts and sweaters like the rest of us when she wasn’t expecting to be photographed. Doesn’t that make you feel better?

So to distill it down to a few points, and to analyze my own habits and see what adjustments I should make…

Audrey Hepburn’s Rules of Style

  1. Know your colours. I have similar colouring to Audrey and upon examination of my closet do find it quite full of muted colours, black, and white. I don’t know if it was really intentional, but I do see a pattern. Most of the more colourful things I own, I don’t wear, and are in the “to go” pile now as I pick through my closet. I will definitely make note of what I feel is more complimentary to my colouring.
  2. Know how to create the proportions you find pleasing. Although Audrey and I are the same height, I don’t have a big problem with being tall, except when I’m around women who are much shorter than I am, or men who won’t match my height in heels. I like the look of heels with certain skirts and dresses. However, flats are always more comfortable and practical! I also have wide shoulders and hate any kind of shoulder padding or puffed sleeves, so those are avoided. Perhaps that’s why I’m not a fan of the ’80s.
  3. Go through your closet regularly and visualize how to have the wardrobe you want with the least amount of pieces. This, I am in the process of doing. I have way too many pieces of clothing that I don’t actually wear anymore. I want to simplify and only have clothes that I actually love and wear. Living in California for so many years, I never felt a need to separate my winter and summer clothing. I just added coats. And in France, well, I usually lacked any storage space, so everything hung out together there, as well. I do sometimes examine my wardrobe and think of something I feel is missing, and go on a quest for it. But I also went on spontaneous shopping trips with nothing in mind, and returning home with bags of new garments. I’m cutting down on that! Which brings us to:
  4. Shop with purpose. For several years I have had a major Crossroads Trading Company (it’s a secondhand store with amazing finds) addiction, and would just walk in looking for buried treasures, nothing specific. And this is how I end up with more than I need. But I haven’t set foot in a Crossroads in at least four months now! I have been shopping with purpose on etsy. Pat me on the back.
  5. Buy quality over quantity. I’m getting better at this. Slowly. However, with Crossroads, I felt like I could have both quality and quantity. Dior shoes, Mark Jacobs jackets… but now my closet is full.
  6. Buy tops and bottoms that are interchangeable and versatile, especially for travel. This is something I have to pay more attention to now that I’m not wearing jeans as much. Jeans go with nearly every top. But now that I’ve got a green skirt, and a tan skirt, and a navy skirt… I can’t just wear the same white shirt with all of them all the time, I need at least one or two other shirts that could go with them and create twice as many outfits. This is already how I travel… seeing how many different outfits I can create with the least amount of clothing. And I usually stick to two pairs of shoes – the black and the white, unless I have room for one or two more. With the cost of vintage clothing (which I’m buying more of nowadays) being usually more than the things I find at Crossroads, I have to pay extra attention to how many outfits I can make with each piece.


So those are my challenges.

Get rid of the things I don’t wear and narrow down my closet to pieces that are versatile, interchangeable, timeless and loved. Simplify and organize.

And perhaps…

buy more scarves.

 

 

 

If you’re interested in shopping from my closet, you can find my vintage things at http://onamae.etsy.com and my more modern clothing on the app http://www.depop.com under username @kendalinwonderland.

On How to be Audrey Part II

In my first post about Audrey Hepburn, I went over her eating habits and outlined a diet for myself to follow. So far, so good, although I got thrown off the other day when I had to be on set at 7am (way too early to be hungry…) and then gorged myself at the lunch buffet. And also had some snacks from craft service. But other than that, it’s going well! I’ve added my own discipline to it and am trying not to eat after 7pm and definitely no earlier than 7am. Not snacking has been a challenge, but I think with practice it will become easier.

Today I want to cover Audrey’s exercise habits. Less is known about this aspect of her life than her diet, it seems.

On How to be Audrey, Part II – Exercise

Audrey grew up immersed in ballet, however the only reference I’ve seen to ballet class in her adult years was one mention somewhere of her attending class while she was working on Broadway, in New York City. She also danced for her film, Funny Face.

During the filming of Green Mansions, she did a spread for a magazine showing her in various stretching poses similar to yoga.

A couple of websites claim that Audrey discovered yoga and made it a part of her daily routine, however, I haven’t found any mentions in her biographies or official sources that this is true. It’s always mentioned on yoga websites, so I’m not sure how accurate their information is! I can imagine that being a former dancer, she probably did have some kind of daily stretching practice, but perhaps we will never know for sure.

However, dancing and stretching will be part of my “emulate Audrey” month. I already have a history with ballet (in my early 20’s) and yoga (a couple years ago), and recently have started back up with both.

My Saturday morning view.

I suppose I won’t be adjusting my habits too much when it comes to exercise. Saturday morning ballet (and eventually back into the adult pointe class, I hope) and daily stretching/yoga.

Again the key here is discipline. Audrey was very disciplined, very focused. According to her,

“I have often thought of myself as quite ugly. In fact, I used to have quite a complex about it. To be frank, I’ve often been depressed and deeply disappointed in myself. You can even say that I hated myself at certain periods. I was too fat, or maybe too tall, or just plain too ugly. I couldn’t seem to handle any of my problems or cope with people I met. If you want to get psychological, you can say my definiteness stems from underlying feelings of insecurity and inferiority. I couldn’t conquer these feelings by acting indecisive. I found them only way to get the better of them was by putting my foot down, by adopting a forceful, concentrated drive.”

And it served her well. So throughout this exercise, I’m hoping to adopt a similar more concentrated drive by introducing more discipline into my everyday life. I know I have always had an issue with focus – so many exciting things to explore in life! It’s a constant battle I fight. What I enjoy about ballet and yoga is the fact that once you get into the “flow”, you stop thinking about anything else. You’re focused solely on the present and being in your body. It also feels good to regularly set aside that time for yourself, as if telling the world, “I care about myself and want to treat my body well. I insist on taking this time out from my concerns to open up, and to dance and to breathe and let everything else go for a while.” Afterwards, I feel refreshed and focused and motivated and ready to tackle the world! And so I shall!

Stay tuned for part three…

On How to be Audrey

Hello, all! It’s been a while, I know. I have started a few blogs in the past and I’m disciplined for perhaps a year and then I trail off. There are times in my life where I feel I will have plenty to write about, and times when either I don’t, or I simply don’t feel like writing! Which is why I will never be a professional, full-time blogger, I suppose!

So I was watching a video on YouTube recently, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill and when he came to number 18 (the video picks up there, if you click on the link) I immediately thought of Audrey Hepburn. Oh yes, there are plenty of things I admire in other people, like Katharine Hepburn with her strong, independent spirit, but when it comes to choosing a role model for myself, it always comes back to the other Hepburn. Perhaps because our basic quiet, anxious natures are similar, so although she has many traits I aspire to, she is also relatable. I’ve always sort of viewed her as something like a cousin whom I admire but never get to spend time with. You’re told stories and you see pictures and you wish you could spend time with her and you want to be like her… at least that’s how I felt about my actual older cousins growing up, and it feels much the same with Audrey. I didn’t have an older brother or sister, but always wished I had.

Oh, don’t let me go on like this! Let’s get to the point of this post!

So I was watching that video and when he came to number 18, I thought of Audrey. I thought, OK, let’s do that, why not. And I decided that, to keep myself accountable, and to perhaps inspire and help someone else who may be having the same idea, I would blog about it. So I started making a mental list of what I knew of Audrey that I could apply to my life, and decided that I would make a very conscious effort for at least one month to follow in her footsteps. Because she’s been my role model for years already, I have a head start on some things. But we’re going full Audrey for August.

The original script was more of a “princess and the peasant” kind of thing. 😀

Good timing too, because it will put me in a good mindset for my next few adventures, which I will tell you about soon!

There are several aspects of Audrey to be covered, and rather than making one giant blog post about them all, I will cover one at a time. I will cover diet, exercise, philosophy and style in four separate posts. Today, I’m going to start with diet.

So let’s get started, shall we?

On How to Be Audrey, Part I. Diet

“She was always very careful about her diet, did not drink alcohol except an occasional glass of wine with dinner, and avoided desserts. She chose her diet as a dancer would: plenty of protein and lots of vegetables and salads. She ate sparingly and rarely splurged. But we did have a yearly feast of caviar in a baked potato.” Mel Ferrer

Audrey’s slim figure is one of the things she’s well-known for, generally being quoted as 5’6 ¾”, 110 pounds, 32-20-35 (although I know someone who owns one of her dresses from the 1960’s and the waist measures 23 inches. This is a weird fixation for me, because the 20 inch figure seems very off and I can’t resist solving a mystery).

Fortunately, I don’t have to really wish for Audrey’s figure, being 5’6 ¾” myself, between 112-116 pounds, and 32-25-35. But because diet is such an integral part of everyone’s lives, it’s important to me to incorporate her eating habits into this challenge. I want to see how changing up my diet and adding additional discipline might affect me.

Audrey’s diet changed throughout her life (as is true for most of us), so I’ve taken the information I’ve gathered and created my own Audrey-based diet from it. In general, her rules were:

  1. No snacking between meals
  2. Drink plenty of water
  3. Fresh, organic, seasonal and local items are preferred
  4. Eat small portions
  5. Only eat until you’re 80% full
  6. Watch the sugar intake

“I eat everything. I eat a great many vegetables, fruit, and…um…otherwise, I eat meat and fish and all those things. I like chocolate and sweets but they are not good for my skin I noticed, so I can’t eat very much of them.” Audrey

While Audrey ate everything, I on the other hand, am mainly vegetarian (and sometimes vegan), so I will be making some adjustments to suit my own dietary preferences but still stay close to her diet.

Snacking: “Don’t build this bad habit!” Audrey says. Yes ma’am. This one is also difficult, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid snacking.

Drink plenty of water. This has been a struggle for me for ages. I know I have to drink more. I just hate spending so much time in the bathroom! This is the month to get into the habit though. Being properly hydrated is very important!

“It isn’t very interesting to eat something that is completely white, so it also can’t be that good for you.”  Audrey

My meals normally include fruits and vegetables, so as long as I don’t get lazy, I’ve got the colour thing down!

 

“She was crazy about the pasta, she would eat it almost every day. Her absolute favorite was spaghetti with tomato sauce. She could live on that alone.” Luca Dotti

I’m always tempted to buy pasta for my meals, however I am not entirely sure that it’s a healthy thing to regularly eat! I believe her pasta addiction appeared when she moved to Rome, as I haven’t seen mention of pasta in earlier accounts of her diet. Although I will include some pastas for dinner occasionally, I won’t be eating it all day every day! As for tomato sauce… I was raised on a lot of spaghetti with tomato sauce and now as an adult am taking a long hiatus from that particular combination. However, seeing as it is my month living like Audrey… I will make an effort to include it in the menu. In fact, I started with a pasta lunch today so we’re off to a good start!

“She was very strict. When it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, her feeling was, you should take your time for meals and stop what you are doing.” Luca Dotti

Sometimes when I’m eating, I do so in a rush, standing at a table, or eating while working or watching a video… but for this month at least, I will stop everything when it’s time to eat, and focus on the food. This is actually a healthy practice. According to some studies, we tend to over-eat when we aren’t paying attention to what we’re doing… if we’re eating while watching a movie for example. When we slow down and enjoy our food and eat mindfully, we don’t over-fill ourselves.

On Sundays, Audrey would have breakfast in bed, with “homemade madeleines, quince jelly, or cherry jam, along with toast, coffee, milk, butter, a small rose from the garden in a tiny vase, and on the side of her tray the International Herald Tribune.” according to her son, Luca. I may not do this, as it’s my Sunday habit to go to Lake Shrine temple and then have lunch with a friend, but perhaps I’ll find a day for it! And I’ve got her recipe for madeleines in Luca’s book, Audrey at Home!

One of the most specific menus I’ve found for Audrey states that for breakfast she would have a glass of water, 3-4 cups of coffee (with hot milk… cafè latte… café au lait), 2 hard-boiled eggs, and a slice of 7 grain whole-wheat toast. For lunches she would have either yogurt or cottage cheese with raw fruits and vegetables, and for dinner she would have a meat and cooked vegetables (Good Housekeeping, 1959).

 “I don’t like fancy food at all. I much prefer an extremely simple meal that’s exquisitely done; a perfectly cooked steak, a beautiful salad, some raspberries.” Audrey

Simple and easy, just how I like it when I’m cooking at home! However, when I go out to eat… I love finding things that I would never take the time to make for myself!

As for her daily meal plan, I will be following this with some adjustments. I tend to prefer fried eggs, sunny side up, so that I can dip my toast, so I will most likely continue doing that on most days. However, I will hard-boil some eggs as well. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but for you, Audrey, I will try a cup in the AM. With soy, almond, or coconut milk though, since I try to limit my dairy. For lunch, I will have yogurt or cottage cheese with fruits and vegetables. I’ve already started doing this, and it’s quite pleasant. I like the predictability and not wondering what I’m going to make for lunch. I’ve purchased various brands and flavours of yogurt, and have found some vegan options as well. As far as I know, there are no vegan cottage cheese options. For dinner, I will be replacing the meat with other sources of protein (although I might occasionally have fish).

“I have seen her resist the most tempting dessert to guard against one inch more on her extraordinary size eight,” friend Radie Harris

I have a confession to make. I am a fruit tarte addict. I love desserts. Love love love. However, I have been watching my processed sugar intake and will continue to guard myself against it this month (and moving forward). If Audrey can do it, so can I.

“Chocolate was my one true love as a child. It wouldn’t betray me. I’ve always said it was either chocolate or my nails in those years. There was a lot of anxiety.” Audrey

Audrey also loved chocolate, but she managed to discipline herself and have only one square a day. Personally, I’m addicted to my homemade dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and I’m going to limit myself to one a day as well. Oh this will be hard!

I think perhaps chocolate is my replacement for nail-biting as well. I think I only managed to stop shredding my nails in my mid-20’s. These days my nails are doing well, thanks to my ever-present nail-file, but those peanut butter cups go fast! Not this month, however! *sigh*

However, there is a glimmer of hope for me…

“Mr. Ferrer was a little fussy about food, but she ate everything and always wanted to experiment. For a tiny woman, she had an enormous appetite. I really doubt those bulimia or anorexia stories. She loved to eat, and they had all kinds of things with butter and cream. They liked chocolate soufflé, roast duck, rich things.” Florida Broadway, her chef for 2 years.

Apparently dessert wasn’t always off-limits. Big sigh of relief!

I’ve read some conflicting things about her eating habits, including this story of her lunch with Sophia Loren that perhaps took place during periods of her life when she was having problems with anxiety. Because of the war, her relationship with food was greatly affected. Audrey tended to eat less when she was under a great deal of stress (as is my own tendency as well, so we’ve got that in common), but we are focusing on her healthy habits right now, and emulating them!

“I associate food with happy times, primarily because those times when I was unable to eat were so miserable. I guess in some convoluted way, I’m afraid if I eat when I’m sad, I’ll be feeding the sadness.” Audrey

I’ve also heard various things regarding alcohol consumption. Mel, above, mentioned only the occasional glass of wine. However it seems that later on, she did like some whiskey, as her friend John Isaac told me. And to quote from a recent Facebook post of his (got to show my sources, right?!):

I told them a story about how Audrey Hepburn and I used to have a swig from my whiskey flask while we were in Bangladesh. And one time I said to her that it is only 2 O’clock in the afternoon and should we have one for the road?  She said to me, “I am sure it is 6.pm somewhere in the world” John Isaac

As I said, we’re being a bit picky-choosy here and following the healthy habits, so drinking and smoking are not on my to-do list!

Once a month, at least later in her life, Audrey would go on a detox. She would drink a gallon of water, and for meals eat yogurt with grated apples.

“She did it once a month, but usually to get over a jet lag, because you feel bloated after many hours sitting on a plane. … Like a lot of people, she was coming back from trips in Africa and was exhausted — this would help with that.” Luca Dotti

I’m going to pick a day to do my detox and do the same, with or without jetlag, although perhaps I will make it more routine to do an Audrey-style detox after my long flights.

So I think that about covers the diet part of this challenge! Stay tuned for Part 2…

For more references on her diet, please check out the websites below:

Everything Audrey – Audrey Hepburn Diet Rules

Everything Audrey – Anorexia?

Rare Audrey Hepburn – I eat everything!

Audrey Hepburn Diet in a Day

 

 

If I Say I’ll Do It…

Then I will!

The only catch is that sometimes it’s a long time before I do it. Which is a problem I have and am trying to remedy! I’m going through a period of high motivation at the moment and am doing everything I can think of to push myself to do what I need to do. One thing I want to do is share a few of my shorter-term goals publicly, so that any of you can ask at any time, “Hey, so how is _____ going? Have you done _____ yet? Why not?” and nag me until I complete the task. So here it goes. Here is a little list of first the short term goal, and it’s related longer-term goal. All of these I want to accomplish in 2016.

And my next blog post will be about my recent adventures, so hang in there. 🙂

 

Short term goal: Learn to speak RP/ British English with the help of a dialect coach.

Long term goal: Audition for (and work on!) the show Versailles (I know Louis XIV will need a new queen in 1669…)

 

Short term goal: Complete first draft of my feature length script.

Long term goal: Produce and act in that script.

 

Short term goal: Improve my French (with private lessons and other practice)

Long term goal: Become French.

 

Short term goal: Complete the weird children’s YouTube film I’m working on.

Long term goal: Maybe make more.

 

Short term goal: Complete ukulele and guitar courses (online) and write some songs.

Long term goal: Perform in front of audiences.

 

Short term goal: Get new headshots and portfolio photos taken.

Long term goal: Get a new agent ASAP.

There are so many things I want to do, some have no obvious long-term goal attached (archery club, aikido, meditation, Bollywood dancing…) and are just more for personal pleasure and general well-roundedness, but we’ll throw those in there too! France is a bit odd in that a lot fun things seems to only happen between September and June, so aikido and some dance classes have to wait. I don’t want to make my “to do” list too long here, so I’ll just start with these. Now please feel free to check in on me and make sure I’m doing something!!! At the end of the year I’ll post about what actually got done. 🙂 Bisous.

I Can’t Afford It

When you hear a friend saying they wish they could do something but can’t afford to, do you jump right into “well, just cut out things like a daily coffee, because $5 a day at 30 cups a month is $150 a month right there!” or something like that?

Whenever I read an article about how to stretch your money, how to save money… they always have ridiculous tips like that.

What if you never buy coffee?

What if you have the cheapest, most restrictive plan for your phone (granted, it’s a smart phone but I’m not giving that up) that you could find, and make calls from Skype to save money?

What if you only go see a movie once a month and only go to a matinee so you’re not paying full price?

How do you juggle paying for the necessities with actually enjoying your life and following your dreams? Life is so short, who wants to waste it working 3 jobs?

Yes, I know that everything we spend money on is a choice. I may decide it’s more important to me to keep flexibility so that I can travel (cheaply…) rather than spend the money going out with friends. I may decide it’s worth it to me to pay $25 for a game that I can play with friends (Cards Against Humanity!) than to have more food in the fridge. They are choices. But just because it’s a choice, doesn’t make it an easy one.

I don’t go to the salon more than 2 or 3 times a year and always look for a cheap one. I don’t get my nails done, I don’t shop for clothing retail – and haven’t shopped at all in months. In fact I’ve sold about half of the clothing in my closet this year.

So what do you say when you have to or want to spend money on something (like a used camera lens, or your dog’s dental care) but don’t have the means? What do you say when friends invite you out but when you add up the cost of gas, food, and a drink, it’s more than you make in a day? How do you continuously say “I can’t afford it, I can’t afford it” without getting depressed about it and sounding like a complainer?

Don't despair. There's no money in it, but I can sell my purse to pay for your dental bill.
Don’t despair. There’s no money in it, but I can sell my purse to pay for your dental bill.

For several years after I moved to L.A., I struggled with money. I moved in with a boyfriend when I could no longer pay my $400/month rent. I was only saved by a $9000 inheritance by a relative, which I stretched to the max after paying my credit card debt and buying a new computer. Because my other one was a 10 year old PC that had just died.

And then came Adsense to save me, and for several years after that, I lived in peace. I could afford a nice place to live. Piano lessons, acting classes, dance classes, elocution classes… I could invest in myself and my career, at last. And I did. And I went out with friends, and I bought Groupons to do fun things, I loaded the fridge with food, which sometimes went bad before I could eat it.

I decided professionally, that I wanted to try France, since although I was putting all this investment into myself, I was not getting work in L.A. So it was time to make the most of life, learn French, and see if the grass was any greener over there.

And then Adsense began to say a long and drawn out good-bye.

I started relying on my savings in addition to the monthly income that was not enough to pay the bills, which were now in Euros.

And eventually that ran out as I struggled to continue to pursue my goals, and I found myself back in L.A., basically broke, doing background work again. I thought it would just supplement my waning income while I tried to prop it up again, until it took one final gasp, and pretty much died. Oh, I still get a little from it, but it’s not going to pay rent. Perhaps with the continuing CPR it may be revived, but not to it’s old glory days.

So I’m left with dreams and goals and the distraction of trying to pay the bills instead of focusing on my real contribution to the world.

I proudly scrimped and saved a few thousand dollars by working and selling off many belongings… only to sit at the accountant and be told that out of that $13,000 I earned… the IRS wanted $1800 of it. I crumbled. I already had taken out a personal loan to combat the crazy interest charges on my maxed out credit card. I was already eating one meal and a smoothie every day. Except the days I worked. I’d been struggling (and still struggle!) to give up the new addiction to organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups, which I could easily spend $50 a month on.

I’ve grown weary of telling friends I can’t afford to join them, tired of not being able to invite people out, depressed because I can’t afford to go dancing, or take classes, or just fund my little documentary by myself, which would only take a few hundred dollars more. I feel frustrated when I think I can treat myself to something (which also doubles as another potential way to earn money, such as a used camera lens, or a better microphone for my camera) and then something “more important” comes up to divert the funds. I feel guilty for telling my friend with the herbal hospital in India, year after year, that I want to come and maybe this year I can make it… but I can’t. I’ve grown tired of the panic and stress that arises when I’m faced with having to spend money I don’t have (on tires, on the vet, the doctor…), and the way I burst out with “I don’t know what else to sell! I don’t know how I can cut back any further on food, I don’t know how I can afford this….” and probably seeming pretty pathetic to whomever I’m talking to.

Websites tell me instead of saying “I can’t afford it,” that perhaps I could say “that’s too expensive and not a necessity.” But how many more things can I say that to? The doctor? The vet? And who wants to live with just the necessities? That’s great for a short period of time, but… months without going out for an unnecessary dinner or drink or show? Other websites assume that you don’t WANT to do the things you’re invited to do. Like it’s easy to say no because “I have a goal I’m saving for.” It’s not easy.

But it’s not just that. It’s not just learning what your priorities are when it comes to spending (which is a good thing). It’s the stress it creates and the time it steals. When the first thought in my mind, all day long, is “how can I earn enough money to be able to meet my goals?” and it never ends… it leaves me little time to unwind and actually work on those goals. To sit and play guitar for a few hours. To read books, to improve my singing or acting, my Photoshop or photography skills. Because I feel the need to spend that time trying to earn money to keep fed and pay off my debt. I feel as if I’m wasting precious time in my life. At 32, I don’t want my main focus to just be paying rent and eating. I want to be using my skills, enjoying my time with friends, giving back because I have enough for me and for others. The struggle has taken away too much of my life.

I realize I’m not the only one. And while it can feel like everyone else can afford the things I can’t, I know it’s not true. I know other people are struggling. And I wish I could help. I wish I was in a position to…

But perhaps this struggle has led me to a position to help. I have a glimmer of hope at the moment. A few months ago, I knew that I would have to save up, and try to revive the website, if I wanted to get back to Paris, and travel more, and be able to focus on my goals and go out with friends, as well. So I started looking online for other ways I could earn money. I’d looked before, when I was doing well, because I wanted to help my friends to live the same wonderfully free lifestyle that I was blessed with. But I never found a way. I tried to help them do the same thing I was, but it wasn’t for everyone, and even I had help. A lot of it! And after the IRS stole most of my savings, I knew it was my only chance. To find something else I could get started with. Otherwise, I would be looking into a future of deep uncertainty. A few months ago, I found something. A location independent potential income, that started working for me. Not right away. Not before the taxes were due. At that point I thought I may still be doomed. But last month, hope started to bloom. I made some money. I found a light at the end of the tunnel.

It was (is) hard to want and need to spend money on things and not be able to, and not know when I would be able to. But now my goal is to work hard this month and have this parachute to catch me as I take a leap away from L.A. once more and leave my major source of income (background work). One more month of saying “I can’t.” I am determined that it be the last month. I am determined that when I get back to France, I will not have to say “I can’t”, I will have the freedom to spend on my creative pursuits. I will have the money for classes when I return to L.A.

I am determined to get to Paris and go out for a glass of wine on a warm summer night, without a worry in my mind about whether or not I can afford it.

So if you’ve been in this position, how do you deal with not being able to afford more than the basics? How do you manage the stress and budget your time between survival actions and pursuing your dreams?

Happy New Year!

OK, sorry for being gone for so long. Sometimes I’m bad at this blogging thing. I just haven’t had much I want to say lately. I haven’t been traveling, I’ve just been here in Los Angeles trying to get a little work and sell a lot of my things. It’s been slow, but I’ve made a couple hundred dollars from the things I’ve sold so far, and I’m really looking forward to just cutting down on things I can do without. I’ve been decluttering my life (that’s a link to Zenhabits.com’s blog post on decluttering, not my own post) for what seems like a long time now, but I haven’t made it easier on myself by being bi-continental. It’s amazing how even though I’ve slowed down with buying things I won’t use regularly, how much there is to go through. I mean, really, it seems like the bulk of it is paper. Books, notebooks, and crap the IRS makes you save. I really want to get rid of all that stuff. I’ve digitized the notes from some notebooks (except the super full ones) and then tossed them. I’ve shredded masses of credit card bills (I figure if I need them again I can get them online. Maybe not without some difficulty but ugggg I hate all these things in my filing cabinet). The key for me seems to be just to keep combing through, keep letting go, and try not to add more to it.

I’ve been trying to declutter my mind as well. After years of hearing about this book, I finally read The Power of Now, which I’ll probably have to re-read every so often to stay focused. It’s not as if the concept is completely new to me, but my thoughts and fears can easily overwhelm me and working on a practice of staying in “the now” seems pretty beneficial. I’ve been really monitoring my thoughts and feelings more, though I haven’t been under a huge stress test lately to see how I deal with it. Not that I want one… lol. I also read (or rather listened to the audio book on YouTube, but then I found the book at Goodwill) The Four Agreements, which really compliment The Power of Now. Highly recommended, both of them.

What else, what else… well, before I read The Power of Now, I was quite a mess in January. The renters in my mobile home had given their one month notice in the middle of December, leaving me to find someone new over Christmas. I found someone new, but couldn’t raise the rent enough to really truly cover all my expenses (there were some surprise raises in the rent this past year), but nobody was interested in it at a higher price. Then to top it off, I had to hire a cleaning lady to help ready the place ($), a handyman to fix some plumbing issues ($$) and then the electricity had problems ($$$) and the heat went out ($$$$). All in all, I could have flown to the Caribbean on what I spent. I found myself one afternoon dragging things out of the backyard and the shed, trying to get an old TV down to the dumpster, freaking out on someone via text because I couldn’t take the stress anymore, and watching teardrops splash on that stupid TV set after dropping it on my toes. I was already bruised and scratched and dirty and really fed up. Just when I thought I was starting to pull things together, I was left with barely anything in my bank account. All while hoping I’d just get enough background work to help put money back in savings, pay down my credit card, and get a plane ticket back to France. That hasn’t happened yet. And I haven’t worked in 2 weeks. Oh, I still work online, and it’s still squeaking by, but not enough to cover everything. I bet the IRS is going to want anything I’m able to set aside by April, too. I hate them. I’ve been looking into other online jobs, and got a very part time gig as a ticket scalper (which makes me feel a bit guilty, but I need some income, even if it’s deferred and morally questionable…). You know how your car likes to eat up savings every time you have some? So does a mobile home. Ah, my car also wants some now, but I just pay 50¢ every week to put it off….

I went in for the casting director meet-and-greet day at Central Casting this morning, since I wasn’t booked for work, which I’ll probably do more often while I’m here, since it does get your name circulated around the office, which may lead to more work. Cross your fingers. The room was crammed full today (nobody else getting work, either?) so there was really no meet-and-greet, just a Q&A. Now I know who casts the background for Mad Men.

And since I wasn’t working, and have gotten a bit tired of going through papers and preparing for tax time, I took the whole afternoon to work on songwriting. And I wrote a song and a half! I would really like to do this more often. Once I get into the groove I can just keep going for a while. I may be able to work on them again tomorrow after I scalp some tickets early in the day. I love being absorbed in creating…. I never want to stop. I don’t want to go to sleep right now. But I have to wake up at 5AM so I should go to bed or I may hit snooze too many times. I just enjoy writing songs, and then I get excited at the thought of performing them. I’m still a ways away from that though. I need to find the perfect match to play piano for me so I’m not alone on stage fudging things up on the guitar or something. But my songs are getting better, and I think if I really take all these days off I have (pfffffff) and focus on writing, I could have a nice handful to work with, and really do it this year. Maybe my musical couchsurfing tour could be a reality in 2014…. 🙂

Oh yeah! I almost forgot. Duh. I started my indiegogo.com campaign for the short documentary film I’m making for the 168 Hour Film Festival this year. Please check it out, and donate or share the campaign. 🙂

What Would Jesus Do… Now? (working title)

So that’s it for now, though I promise I’ll try to be better about blogging again. I’ll find something to talk about. 😉

Focus

Death Kiss

 

So I’m still in Barcelona and my stay here is already halfway over! I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I wished to accomplish while I was here and realize I’m not very far into making any of them a reality. Perhaps I was a little overambitious, or perhaps in the end it was a really good thing for my sanity to just take the time to relax a bit instead of constantly trying to be productive. Or perhaps I just succumbed to the heat and really could have gotten more done had I been able to breath.

The Potential Big Ideas I had for Spain….

Connect with film makers and film something.

Perform music.

Make a music video.

Write more songs.

Learn some Salsa or Tango!

Well, I did write one more song, and a second is on it’s way. And we may be playing a set at the very end of the month, but we seriously need more practice, and that may be the only show we do.  Still pretty cool though. 🙂

As for the music video, well, I never did get someone to help professionally record one of my songs, so that’s not happening yet.

And I have not gone dancing yet…

I really have just unplugged since being here. Of course, the heat kind of makes you feel like holding very still in front of  a fan for long stretches of time, but that’s not all I’ve done. I’ve done some wandering around, put in some beach time, met a few new people, gone to the grocery store a lot…

This week I’ve gotten sucked back into reality with a surprise bill from the IRS (how are they allowed to just NOT tell you that you supposedly owe them taxes and fees from years gone by until you log into their website and try to set up a payment plan for this previous year… the only one you’re aware of owing anything for?) and the ATM rejecting my request for cash because there’s not enough there. It makes a person want to just disappear. Even buying the discount fruit at the corner store, this girl is still on the verge of trouble. I get an Adsense payment around the 25th of the month, but I’ve spent the past hour trying to figure out how to transfer any amount of money from my US bank to my French bank (since they have no useful ATMs here…) with no solution.

In good news. Today I took a free Reiki course a new friend was offering through his Meetup group, and tomorrow is another beach day. We are also going to get a little more organized in planning our days, since we don’t have a lot of time left before our show and the end of the trip.

So I Googled information on productivity. Again. I tend to forget how to be productive, and get really scattered or distracted with “things that need to get done that I don’t care about or want to be doing.” You know those things.

I found this article at the Harvard Business Review about How to Accomplish More by Doing Less.

And this one at The New York Times, both by Tony Schwartz, where I learned:

…. during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.

Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.

OK that helps for long stretches of songwriting and singing, or doing work on the computer. I was spending all day every day working online last month.

This article on Inc. also mentions the 90 minute cycles, along with several tips on how to be more productive. They’re kind of obvious, like stay away from distractions. But setting small goals on the way to big goals is a good one and I think we’ll be doing more of that this week. I have so many bigger goals in my mind that I need to work towards, not just ones for this month. Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not make any progress.

I read an old article once in which Audrey Hepburn was interviewed (a very old article, from the 1950’s) and mentioned something about focus, and how important it was to success. I wish I had the article with me to share, but alas, I do not. But it stuck with me, because focus can be very hard for me unless I’m doing something I really enjoy. I keep working at it though…. focus, productivity, time management. Someday I’ll master it and make some progress in life. 🙂

What about you, how do you deal with time management and reaching goals?

 

Perpetual Motion

OK, I swear after this one I’ll have something useful or deep to share! lol. I just know I haven’t been writing much and I wanted to touch base. Hello.

Today I was on a Skype call with someone discussing the latest thing I’m trying to accomplish (it’s early, I’ll share about that later, I promise) and once again got to the point of conversation where I get asked:

“So how long have you been in France?”

And I have to answer:

“About 2 years.”

And at that moment, every time, the whole thing flashes by and I wonder what on earth I’ve been doing. And then I always realize that so much of my time is just spend moving or preparing to move. Looking for a place, packing things, buying things, unpacking things… and moving again. In my current place of residence, I have become very unhappy, but I stick it out because it was only for 3 months, and the search for a new apartment is all-consuming. I want to use my time more wisely. But I did just consider leaving after the first month or two. For anywhere. A couch. Whatever. What was making it a bit more bearable was that halfway through this month, I thought I would have 2 weeks to spend in another apartment. It’s an apartment that I help manage, and between guests I go and make use of the shower, toilet, freezer, internet, washing machine, stove, and bed that does not require a ladder. At that point, I thought “yay! I can spend time with my dog!” so I got her from her baby-sitter, who is on her way to Sweden for a week. And then the place got rented. I mean just yesterday got the email. So after dragging all of my living supplies, all of my food, over there…. I was packing it up again and walking up 7 flights of stairs with a Yorkie. Who promptly needed to go outside again. We’re both exhausted.

Pooped

But the point of this story is…. I’ve spent a lot of time moving around. I love to travel, yes, but I have no real home base, and it’s exhausting now. So much of my physical and mental energy is spent just trying to secure a place for me and my things. I have most of my things in storage right now, and the rest of it will join at the end of the month. By the way, does anyone want a mattress, a juicer, a dehydrator, or a toaster?

It’s frustrating to think that this basic necessity of having a home, somewhere of your own, somewhere to depart from and return to, has evaded me for so long. And it’s kept me distracted from the more creative and productive things I want to be doing. And I’ll only be doing more moving around for the rest of the year. Yes, to some places I want to go (still hoping for India!) but with nowhere to call home. It’s like being lifted off the ground by a balloon, it can be a fun ride, but I have to hold on tight until there’s some solid ground again.

It’s different if the goal is to be traveling around, always moving, but my goal was to set up home in Paris, and make little trips out, while learning French and working on my creative pursuits. Not hopping around, living in 5 different locations within Paris and the suburbs within 2 years! That’s just insane! Insane… so yeah, no wonder I feel like I haven’t gotten much done. My average in L.A. was a move every year, until the last few years… my last place of residence lasted 3.

I need to resolve this, but I’m not sure how. It definitely means leaving Paris. I can’t afford a decent place to live here, and my cat is now in L.A., where he can be happy going outside. But I don’t want to leave forever. I want to come back and continue working on things. I don’t know. I don’t know how I will figure it out. I’m sure I will, but it may be as exhausting as the past 2 years have been.

Any other travelers out there with any advice? I know one thing that would help would be to earn more money. The less I have, the more stuck I am. I’m working on it, I’m working on it. But these things take time…. I don’t want to bounce around, I want a home base for me and my pets. But I don’t want to give up travel, either.

Whine whine whine, from the girl in Paris.

Speaking of travel, did I tell you I’m going to Barcelona at the end of the month?! I think I did. I’m excited. Here, watch some fireworks:

How Can You Afford To Travel?

It’s asked. It’s thought. And sometimes my answer is “I can’t.” At the moment I’m in a space where I just have to have faith that if I keep working hard and smart that I will get out of this hole and back to a bit of stability. But the answer to the question of “how can you afford to travel?” right now is…. “How can I afford not to?”

I’m realizing that I can’t afford to stay in Paris, at least not comfortably. But I have to stick around for a few more months for some classes, meetings, and to get to India in November with a shorter and cheaper flight (and vaccinations). My solution to the “I can’t afford to live here anymore” situation? Travel. Yeah. That thing you think you do only when you have money.

But I can explain. I took the leap and bought a round trip ticket to Barcelona, and another roundtrip from there to Ghana. In total, this cost me less than 900€ and will take me from July 31 to September 19. To couchsurf or rent a room in Spain will end up costing me maybe 200-300€. And I can easily couchsurf the rest of September in Paris. So right there is about 1200€, or 600€ a month, which is equal to or less than what I would pay for a room or studio in Paris. BUT I get a grand new adventure out of it, in places where everything else is cheaper. So I’ll be lowering my living costs. Yes, for the moment, I had to put the tickets on a credit card because I don’t get paid that far in advance and am squeezing every last dime (er…. centime?) but I think it was worth it.

I think traveling can frequently be cheaper than staying in one place, especially if you use couchsurfing.org or helpx.net for your accommodations. Yes, airfare can be a big cost, but if you plan carefully, you still could be saving more money than you’d spend at home on rent and food (and gas, etc….). If you have a mileage card, that can help you out. I don’t have one, but maybe I’ll get one in the next year if they’ll approve me!

So that said… yes, surprise! My summer plans are to go to Barcelona and Ghana. While in Barcelona I want to make a music video for an original song (still being composed, and still seeking a musician to help me record it!) and while in Ghana I will be filming at my friend’s computer school.

In other news… I’ve made a little video about the past 2 weeks, since I’ve been doing some kind of interesting things! Filming a short starring my dog, pretending to be military, going to the White Dinner, dancing along the Seine….. It’s summertime. My favourite time in Paris. Well… if it would stop freaking raining.

And now…

Oh My Gosh It Was Yesterday!

If that phrase is familiar to you… then you know the panic I am feeling right now.

Back in October, I managed to miss a required civics course. I then was lucky enough to have someone reply to my emails and tell me when the next one would be. February. Well, I wouldn’t be there. So… June. 15. At 8am. Which for SOME reason I put in my calendar on June 16. How on earth did this happen? Because it was in there for several months. And I got a paper in the mail with June 15 on it. And I look at my calendar frequently. And I found and looked at the paper just the other day. How did it not register?

double-facepalm1

 

Until this morning at 6:30am.

But wait, there’s more!