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23,040 Minutes

23,040 minutes.

Or, if you prefer, 384 hours.

 

That’s precisely how long I’ve been staying at Camden Holly Springs.  The place I’ve called home since 22nd August.  Seems so odd to say that.  As is doing things by myself.  Normal, everyday things such as taking out the trash.  Pumping gas into the car, going to the car wash too.  Cooking for one (I still keep cooking far too much but I’ll get the portions right eventually, I know it).  Getting acquainted with a washer and dryer that aren’t Samsung red boom boxes. Realising that I can decorate things however I please (hence the red couch, moo moo cube, tray tables, bedroom furniture, and night lamps).  Yes, in case it wasn’t already apparent, I’m going with black, red and white with touches of grey/chrome 🙂 I shan’t lie, it’s going to take a while to get accustomed to these (shall we call them) adjustments but I know they’re part of the process in this journey towards my new norm.  And I look forward to embracing them.  Wholeheartedly.

Now, the blog.  Initially I told myself that, from September onwards, I would jump headlong into the fray and commit to publishing posts thrice weekly, like before.  Then the reality of unpacking and tidying and putting away things kicked in, and before I knew it, more than two weeks had passed since I moved.

How quickly time speeds by when changes are a-foot.

Conversely (and most ironically), time also appears to slow to a screeching, horror-movie slow-mo halt when changes are in the air, don’t you think?

B Y    T H I S,    I' M    R E F E R E N C I N G    R O U T I N E S

Things that one does subconsciously.

Acts borne out of habit.

I’m quite certain we’re all guilty of this.  And I’m no different.  I (still) find myself behaving or thinking in a certain way that harks back to the past, then catching myself in the middle of it.  Pausing.  Re-evaluating the deed, why it happened, and then consciously cleaving it off.

As my psychologist affirms, there is a lot of untangling to be done, and which must be done cleanly, firmly, kindly and respectfully.

She tells me that it is far better to rip off a band-aid then to slowly peel it thus prolonging the pain and agony.  I agree but the right way isn’t always the easiest way.  Come to think of it, it’s usually the hardest.  She also tells me it’s perfectly alright and understandable if I am a smidge slow in breaking those patterns of which I speak.  And that even after much time has passed, there will still be moments when I find myself doing something out of habit.  That it’s normal human behaviour, and that I really should stop beating myself up over it.

Which I’ve been doing a lot, apparently.

Blaming myself.

Feeling guilty.

I knew I’d been doing those things but I didn’t realise it was so apparent to those within close vicinity.  Or that these traits could be used against me.  Learned Reminded of this along with several other key life lessons during my last session with the good doctor of psychology.  Additionally, it was (nicely but ever so firmly) pointed out that I needed to make some serious changes in the way I was communicating with people.

To put it bluntly, I have to stop being a doormat.

Being soft-hearted (call it flexible or understanding) is one thing, but being a pushover is a completely different situation 🙂 and I am learning to tell the difference.  Distinguishing between being accommodating and pandering.

No one ever tells you about these things when you end a long-term relationship.  How to behave with your ex.  How not to behave with your ex.  I’m not joking, I promise.

Or that despite being the one to initiate the split, it would still hurt.  That I would also grieve.  Grieve and mourn the loss of what I firmly believed was my fairy tale ending.  No one goes into a marriage (or any relationship for that matter) imagining it would end.  Quite the contrary, we all begin with starry eyes, fervent hopes, and rose tinted dreams of white picket fences (insert wistful smile).  Sometimes, we get to ride into the sunset and live happily ever after.  And sometimes we don’t.  My story was a combination of both in that I did enjoy the rainbows and butterflies for quite a long time, and then I no longer did.  It happens.

I T    I S    V E R Y    N O R M A L

I still have moments when I wonder if I am doing the right thing.  And while those moments are becoming fleeting, fewer and further between as time passes, they still happen.  In the beginning, I used to think of them as the universe telling me I’d made the wrong decision to leave.  That I was utterly mad.  But now, I consider them as reality checks that are very much welcomed.

Moments of (increased) lucidity which allow me to continuously examine and assess where my choices have led me.  To further dissect the consequences of having chosen to focus on me as versus deciding to stay.  The numerous challenges which have come my way since 22nd August 2018, and how I’ve managed to overcome (most of) them.

Yes, I am tired.

I am mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted.  But I wouldn’t trade a single moment of all I’ve gone through in the past several weeks (nor the past 16 years, for that matter) for anything in the world.  The sense of independence and empowerment I’ve experienced since moving out and being on my own has been liberating, to say the least.  I feel strong and alive again.  I feel like me again for the most part, and I know this is but the beginning.

I would love for you to stay with me as I begin my new adventures.

I could really use a friend, or 3,228 🙂

 

Love, Sheela

I link up here.

The Fab 40s Are All Laced-Up

Racy, lacy, dicey.

Hey, that even rhymed.

 

As a few of you already know, a new chapter in my life has begun.

Some time ago, I ended my 16 year relationship with Pierluigi.  There was no infidelity.  No, nothing of the sort.  I walked away after almost two decades together because I had lost myself.  I had spent so much time being mother, wife, colleague that Sheela had completely disappeared.  I had no purpose.  I felt absorbed.  Missing.  Lacking.  Gone.

I    H A D    B E C O M E    I N V I S I B L E

Lest anyone casts that first stone, let me preface it by saying that I have absolutely no regrets in taking on those three roles.  I love Eve more than life itself, and I wanted to be the sort of parent who was always there.  Always present in as many ways as possible.  Her needs came before mine, and they always will.

Being a wife to Pierluigi was an all-consuming affair, and I was alright with that.  Until I wasn’t. We (still) share many wonderful memories created during our years together, and I refuse to tarnish that by speaking ill of him, or of our relationship.  Everything that has happened, happened for a reason, and helped shape the woman I am today.

When I first began working at Network Box, it was supposed to be part-time, and no more than 20 hours a month.  Over time, that increased to approximately every hour of every day (weekends included), and my blog became slowly (but surely) neglected.  I’m sure you, dear reader, have noticed the erratic posts.  Long periods of absenteeism and silence in between new content.  The thing I loved (and which fed my soul) fell through the cracks.  The one outlet to express my thoughts and emotions (and maintain my sanity), was no longer there.

I felt even more lost, floating in limbo.

T H I N G S    H A D    T O    C H A N G E

So, despite being completely petrified (which I still am, incidentally), I officially separated from Pierluigi, moved into my own place a week ago (me and mah boo), and am now working towards finding myself again.  Do not think I made this decision lightly.  I go through panic attacks on a daily basis, and find myself throwing up frequently out of anxiety.

Thoughts cloud my mind and my heart.  Could’ve.  Would’ve.  Should’ve.

But I have to do this.  To save me.

I know this may seem drastic to some.  And utter madness to others.  Whilst yet some others will completely understand what I’m talking about.  Who may even have taken those same steps themselves, and who are now (for want of another expression) better for it.

Found.

Whole.

That’s what I’m hoping to do.

That’s why I’m on this journey now.

I seek a better understanding of myself, what I (really really) want out of life.  What makes me happy.  I need to find Sheela again.

Invest time in myself.

Make myself a priority and not feel guilty about that.

Does that make sense?

Anyway, onto the matter at hand.  The Fab 40s.  And the theme I chose for this month.  Laced-Up.  A theme sufficiently vague that it lends itself to a plethora of interpretations.  Something that has not been lost on my fellow fierce friends, as you will soon see for yourself.

There’s lacing.

And lace.

And different types of lacing-up.

Take a look.

Ann, Kremb de la Kremb

Anne | Kremb de la Kremb

Picture perfect, that’s all that needs to be said.

Mary, Curly Byrdie Chirps

Mary | Curly Byrdie Chirps

Lace + Leather = like woah.

Suzy, Suzy Turner

Suzy | Suzy Turner

Oooh.  Pretty in pink GRIN and too adorable for words.

Jennie, A Pocketful Of Polka Dots

Jennie | A Pocketful of Polka Dots

Hubba hubba hubba.

For this month, we have the AWESOME Shelbee as our guest.

Shelbee | Shelbee On The Edge

It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Shelbee.  I mean, this is the second time I’ve invited her as guest blogger for The Fab 40s so that tells you something (check her debut here).  She is the coolest person I know on the world wide web.  I’ve been blessed to meet her in person last February during NYFW, and I can safely attest that she is equally (if not more) cool IRL.  And as I told her, the moment the theme began forming in my mind, I immediately thought of inviting her again.  I mean, racy and lacy are all words I associate with Shelbee so it made sense.

And here’s me.

Top (Kenzo ) | Laced-Up Jeans (Mango) | Boots (I can’t remember) | Leather Jacket (Blank NYC) | Yellow Cuff c/o Unearthed.etsy.com | Sunnies (Chanel)

Happy Monday, everyone!!  As I write this, I’m sitting on my newly unpacked (and assembled red suede couch), with a just assembled glass coffee table in front of me, and mountains of boxes all around me.  WiFi is spotty (at best) and I have so much to unpack that I am (almost) tempted to check into the nearest hotel.

But you know what, I wouldn’t trade this new life for anything in the world.

 

KISSES!!!

 

Love, Sheela

p/s I link up here.

The Fab 40s In Their Cutoffs

Oh yes, we absolutely can.

Wear shorts, that is.

 

I begin my post with a sense of utter outrage.

In the process of conducting due diligence and research to write this, I came across multitudes of so-called style experts dishing out the most ridiculous of counsel to women on whether cutoffs (or the entire spectrum of shorts, for that matter) were age-appropriate.

If it weren’t for the fact that I’d just taken my Bystolic (and that I’m physically drained from a very exhausting weekend of work + play, with the last vestiges of jet lag thrown in for good measure), I suspect I’d have suffered a fit right then and there.  Or, at the very least, hurled verbal abuses at said culprits vis-à-vis the sanctity of my home office which would, in truth, serve no higher purpose save to leave me with the cringey task of wiping smatterings of spit from my laptop screen.

O U T R A G E D ,    I    T E L L    Y O U

First of all, anyone who specialises in what’s called “mum style” instantly raises the red flag where I’m concerned.  As it is with (that ridiculous notion of) dressing for one’s age, what on earth does “mum style” even mean?

Special mention must be made of this particular website wherein cutoffs are to be frowned upon because (1) we look like we’re trying too hard; (2) shorts are meant only for PYTs with great bodies; and (3) we can’t possibly have nice legs at “our age” so no, we should never wear those things called shorts.  Yes, those evil concoctions which when chosen carefully, reveal and showcase those pins in the most flattering of circumstances.  Oh no, heaven forbid that should happen because, you know, once a woman turns 40, she’s expected to crawl quietly into the dark abyss of no-style-land to shrivel into obscurity, and fade away.  And not look amazing in anything remotely stylish or form-revealing.

Rant over.

Ish.

G  A  H  !  !  !

I am irked.

Can you tell how irked I am?

For as long as women continue to dish out this nonsensical words, other women will keep thinking of their counsel as gospel, and thus does the vicious cycle continue.

We must put an end to this mentality, and do away with the thought process which likens ageing to decrepitating (puhlease).  Age is truly nothing more than a duo of numbers.  And numbers are merely mathematical objects, used to count and measure.  Unfortunately, society has expanded their use to also label.  Classify.  Designate.  Stamp.

In other words, a label has been placed on how old a woman is, equating it with her self-worth, appeal quotient, her value.

When in truth, every single scar, every single stretch mark, every single imperfection bears witness to everything she has been through to become the woman she is today.  A strong, proud, beautiful woman.  One that should be fiercely celebrated and loved.

As July emerged on the horizon, and it came to Annie to select our monthly theme, I knew with dead certainty that she’d pick cutoffs (I swear, I did Annie!!).  After all, she practically lives in them all year round in Hong Kong, owns the largest wardrobe of shorts (and sneakers) I’ve ever known for one person to have, and looks killer in every single pair.

With that knowledge in mind, I’d begun mentally assembling my look even before I went away to Borneo.  I was fully aware I wanted a blend of couture with high street.

Something immensely melodramatic on top, with something ripped and distressed below, to create a perfectly contrasting, off-kilter look.

I hope to have accomplished that here today.

I’d like to imagine this particular ensemble walking loud and proud in front of press and spectators alike at the VMAs, appreciated by all age groups and sartorial genres for its singular visual impact.  Those bold stripes placed so carefully and artfully make for a graphic statement (with enough room to chow down upon the sumptuous meal that is certainly in store for all VMA attendees).  And that Daisy Duke-esque pair of cutoffs looks simultaneously youthful and romantic, calling attention to legs which have traversed many a mile, and walked through countless adventures.  And lived to tell the tale.

It photographs beautifully, this outfit does.

Come see what my fellow fierce friends have put together, in the name of cutoffs this month.  It’s very insightful, looking at their individual interpretations and the lengths (and styles) they’re at ease with.  And the various settings in which they perceive denim cutoffs to be most apt.

Take a look.

Ann, Kremb de la Kremb

Ann | Kremb de la Kremb

Simple and fun is what Ann does best, and here she proves that again in that gorgeous Wrangler tee with one of her countless denim cutoffs.  Perfectly paired with killer smile, sun-kissed legs, and a cool drink.

Mary, Curly Byrdie Chirps

Mary | Curlybyrdie Chirps

I didn’t even realise cutoff shorts existed in longer lengths.  Had I known, I would’ve started wearing them ages ago!!  Beautiful blend of blue on blue, Mary, with the prettiest of crochet appliqué trims.  So pretty.

Suzy, Suzy Turner

Suzy | Suzy Turner

Props, Suzy, for wearing two cutoff pieces 🙂 and dowdy is certainly not a word I’ve EVER use to describe you!!!  There is a definite grunge vibe here, and I’m loving it. Casting a heart eye emoji on that Desigual backpack too.

Jennie, A Pocketful Of Polka Dots

Jennie | A Pocketful of Polka Dots

Now this is the perfect case study for a bohemian vibe, wouldn’t you agree?  Lace and crochet going head on with denim and dark leather.  Delicious.  I don’t know how she does it but Jennie always manages to make everything look easy and effortless.

For this month, we have the lovely Monika as our guest.

Monika | Style Is My Pudding

If I am to be completely honest, I was a little upset with Ann for inviting Monika as our guest this month because I’d been wanting to do the same for August, when it’s my turn GRIN which lets you know how awesome a style a woman has when more than one blogger has her in mind for a collaboration.  I mean, head over to her blog, and you’ll instantly understand why Monika is such a cool cat.  Plus I have serious hair envy whenever I look at her pink tresses.  My level of #girlcrushing went through the roof when I saw Monika’s cutoff outfit because, you know, it’s a damn skirt!!  My mind had gone straight to shorts and never once strayed to consider that there may be other cutoff options out there (smacks forehead).  How glorious does she look!!  Thank you so much for being a part of The Fab 40s, Monika!!!

And here’s me.

Top (Poshmark ) | Cutoffs (Blank NYC sold out, preloved here) | Sunnies (Chanel)

Happy Monday, everyone!!  As I write this, I’ve been back precisely a week from a month long vacation in Borneo, and am still suffering from jet lag which is really annoying but worth it to be able to see my family 🙂 I hope everyone has a decent start to a new Monday.

 

KISSES!!!

 

Love, Sheela

p/s I link up here.

The Girls

Breasts. Tits. Boobs.

Whatever you may call them.

 

Yes, however you may refer to them, my breasts are my most significant area of body insecurity.  Ever so quintessentially clichéd, I’m fully aware.  Allow me to clarify.  Yes, the insecurity pertains to size but perhaps not quite in the way you think.  I’ve never once desired to be a cup I am not.  To provide some provenance, pre-Eve, I was a 34B.  Right after having Eve, I stayed 34D for a long time.  Then I went to being a 36B, and now, I’m at 34AA.  Clearly, lingerie stores have had me to singularly support their existence these past few years, what with all that yo-yo movements of my cleavage (you’re welcomed).

So, my bone of contention is that I do not crave more but I yearn to regain what I’ve lost through the years of weight fluctuations and intensive workouts.  I want to be a 34B again.

No more, no less.

I’ll be the very first one to admit that it IS a lot easier and more efficient to be petite where breasts are concerned.  I truly doubt I’d be able to undertake all the stuff I do at the gym otherwise.  I see women with ample bosoms box, run, bench press, and I cringe because it is (more often than not) painful to watch.  Metaphorically for me, and literally for them.

I am able to jump high up into air and know that when I descend, and my feet touch the ground, my breasts do the same.  Without any lapse in sequence or timing.  We land together.  That may seem amusing to some but honestly?  When that doesn’t happen, the pain and/or discomfort levels are insanely high.  For that, I am ferociously grateful.

And even as I bemoan the loss of curvature (and athletic pursuits aside), I also appreciate how from a sartorial perspective, I am able to wear certain garments which someone more generously endowed would not, or rather, should not (tongue fully in cheek).  What sort of style challenges do I mean, you ask?

Ruffles across the chest.

Low back garments that reveal side boob.  Or the overflowing thereof.

Buttoned-down tops that fit everywhere else but there.

Strapless swim things.  Strapless most things actually.

Just bra with blazer.

Like what I’ve got on today.

I mean, it isn’t as if women with full breasts can’t wear all those things, they most certainly can if they so choose.  Being the proponent of self-love that I am, perpetually advocating confidence and empowerment, I am all for that.

That said, the end result isn’t always pleasing or polished.

There’s something to be said about lapels laying flat.  The smooth lines of a figure-flattering garment.  Non gaping buttons.  About zero jiggling when walking while clad in a top that hugs every curve, every line.

I don’t know.  I often wonder what a woman on the other side of the breast spectrum would say about her endowments.  Would she consider them both a blessing and a curse?  Does she (ever) think of having smaller ones?  I question also why society places so much emphases on the attraction level of a woman in direct correlation with her bra cup size.  Is that actually true in all circumstances?  I feel as though most of the men I’ve spoken to don’t see it that way.

Or perhaps they were just being polite to petite-chested me.  Who knows GRIN

Back to my concerns about boob size.  Well, I did something about it in early May.  No, we’re not talking implants.  Or fillers.  Or fat transfers.  I recently went through stem cell therapy for my Lupus and decided to have localised injections into both knees, right shoulder/rotator cuff and, yes, my breasts. That. Hurt.  So much that I almost gave up halfway through but the thought of having lopsided boobs was enough to propel me forwards and onwards.

If research is to be believed, I should see a slight (oh so natural) augmentation in the bustline over the next six to eight months.  Nothing quite Pamela Lee Anderson (thank god) but sufficient to realise the need to purchase new bras.

My doctor pre-empts that I will require at least another two to three procedures, on a annual basis, primarily for the Lupus but hey, why not provide more aid to the cleavage whilst we’re at it, right?  To be honest, I haven’t seen any difference yet.  It’s early days so I’m not surprised.

I am, however, cautiously optimistic.  And excited to see what transpires.

Would you be interested to know when I know?

Now to the denim at hand.  A few days ago, we showcased jeans worn on the DL.  Today, we’re featuring that very same pair (Eve and I, we are) in a fancy fashion.  Not too long ago, those two words, “denim” and “fancy” would never ever appear in the one same sentence yet here we are, with them being paraded at galas alongside the most elaborate of bejewelled gowns.  Of course I am, in true Sheela style, 24 hours late (forgive me, please, Jodie and Eve, I really am trying my best to play catch-up) (and failing in a most epic fashion, clearly).

Take a look at how we all dressed our jeans fit to paint the town red.

Eve, Teens (the world according to eve)

Eve | The World According To Eve

Look at mah boo go.  Strutting her stuff in that deliciously adorable polka dot peplum top with those jeans (that I still covet and yearn for).  If you look at her fuchsia wedges carefully, you might just spy a tiny black heart she drew in with a Sharpie many years ago.

Sheela, 40s (sheela writes)

I think “fancy jeans”, I instantly think blazer and lace.  I do not know I think that but here they are, in all their dressed up glory.  The choker added a touch of IDGAF.

Jodie, 50s (jodie’s touch of style)

Jodie | Jodie's Touch Of Style

Love the plethora of print and texure in this outfit.  So SO many things going on but look at how harmoniously (and aesthetically) they’re cohabiting alongside each other?  And to think just a scant year or so ago, print mixing wasn’t quite Jodie’s cup of tea 🙂

Stacy, 60s (jodie’s touch of style)

What an unusual choice to pick yellow as an accent colour.  Bold but not even remotely overpowering, those pops provide the perfect (heady) dose of zest to Stacy’s look.  She needs to be careful with that bag though, I’m terribly inclined to snatch it away for myself!!!

Charlotte, 80s (jodie’s touch of style)

I adore the walking disco ball aka Charlotte.  All that sparkling goodness.  It could’ve gone so wrong but her sequinned top is a perfect sartorial contrast to the clean, stark lines of her dark wash jeans.  And look at her sunnies OMG #girlcrush

And there you have it.

Fancy jeans.

How do you dress denim up?

 

Love, Sheela

I link up here.

What Makes You, You?

Ya, boo.

What makes you, you?

 

A simple prompt from the awesome Jodie, about the versatility of denim, gave rise to the question of what makes you, you.  Is it your external self with its specific composition of water, protein, connective tissue, fats, bones, carbohydrates and DNA?  Or, conversely, is it how that external facade is packaged namely dress style, trimmings (body art, ink, etc), hair colour?

Or, as a third alternative. is it how we think and behave that dictates and makes us who we are?  Our moral guidelines, our moral code?  Our beliefs?

Could it be all of the above?

I rather think so.

After all, at the end of the day, our physical selves take instructions from our minds, our emotions.  How we feel manifests itself into how we conduct ourselves, how we appear in the eyes of the world.

As I explain myself, I am also reminded of an impromptu conversation with a friend, Michael, just a fortnight ago.  This oh so articulate and creative friend revealed how he’d often visualise himself as the lead character in fictional scenarios.  Fictional and ever-changing scenarios based on his current mood, whims and fancies.  Now while he may have done so to further boost his passion for screenwriting, it occurred to me how real life is a carbon copy of just that, i.e., all those curveballs thrown our way?  Well, they too fashion us into who we are, at that specific season of our lives.

I know, I know, trust Sheela to come up with something so elaborate and thought-provoking based off on a desire to showcase the humble denim jeans beyond stereotypical expectations.  I couldn’t stick to the bare basics even if I wanted to, and apparently I never want to GRIN

But back to the question at hand.

What makes you, you?

If there’s one thing I’ve discerned over the years seasons of my existence, it’s that the core of being Sheela lies in authenticity.  Being true to who I am.  Even if at times I don’t quite like who I am.  Or the things I’ve done.  Every decision I’ve made, every turn I’ve taken (or not), I can safely attest has, for the most part, been grounded in who I am, what I stand for, and the reasons behind why I’ve done things the way I have.

You are the decisions you make. 

Or, as is often the case, possessing the courage to make a decision.

Not your instincts, not your thoughts, not your beliefs, only actions.

In this particular instance, however, there wasn’t anything quite sage-like a motive behind pulling on a pair of jeans.  It was strictly a sartorial-conscious decision in ensuring I complied with the theme Jodie and I had concocted up, albeit I am 24 hours late (forgive me, please, Jodie and Eve, clearly advanced scheduling is not will never be my forte).

When we decided to cast the spotlight on jeans for this particular collaboration, the idea was to showcase how denim would fare under both casual as well as fancy circumstances.  Today (and yesterday for those ladies who can actually meet a deadline), the humble pair takes on a slightly dressed-down attitude.

Come see what “dressed-down” in jeans means to each of us.

Eve, Teens (the world according to eve)

Eve | The World According To Eve

So much to love and covet in this look.  I’ll confess, I bought those jeans for me, but then when they arrived, they were such an Eve pair that it was a no-brainer to hand it over.  From the plaid shirt to the distressed rips to those tuxedo stripes and colour-blocking patches to adorable star appliques on her foots, there’s SO much going on here that it borders on the style schizophrenic.  And don’t they all look absolutely killer on Eve??

Sheela, 40s (sheela writes)

Yellow so not mellow.  And rips lined up like a stairway to style heaven.  Heh.  I tried.

Jodie, 50s (jodie’s touch of style)

Jodie | Jodie's Touch Of Style

How does this woman always look so relaxed and poised and sweat-free?  It would so irksome if I didn’t like love her to bits.  A casual kimono and the sweetest top, both in China blue + white make for such a soothing palette.  Then you throw in the starkness of dark-washed jeans, and a fashion paradox is born. Give it to Jodie to infuse little dollops of flirt in tassel earrings, bohemian bag, and pretty-in-pink wedges.

Charlotte, 80s (jodie’s touch of style)

Charlotte | Jodie's Touch Of Style

I’ve said it MULTIPLE times, I love this woman.  Her style is defined but never boring, never predictable, as clearly evident from her wearing that most adorable of floral necklaces with a classic gingham blazer.  Charlotte does not shy away from colour (another reason why she’s #goals) but also does not use it for the sake of being a walking rainbow.  Here, the pops of colours are ever so strategically placed.  Yes, I’m gushing, sue me.

And there you have it.

Casual jeans.  Not quite Summer-weather-friendly but for the sake of a brief photoshoot, we survived.  Once the lens cap was placed back onto the camera, I ditched my heels and moto jacket, braided the hair, and replaced my Bowie tee with a sleeveless tank #bless

How do you denim it down?

 

Love, Sheela

I link up here.

The Fab 40s Make A Statement

Creating an impression.

One that hits home.

 

I doubt I’d be distorting facts when I put forth that we’ve all done something to send a message at least once in our lives, if not countless times.

Making a statement could be as rudimentary as wearing black lipstick to rebel against the powers that be, or something far more significant, more meaningful such as taking a stand against Trump.  Joining the #MeToo movement.  Going public with your sexual orientation.  Articulating an opinion about a topic near and dear to you.  Participating in a rally.

In one way or another, we all make statements.  And, naturally, the way we dress is perhaps the most eloquent, versatile and personal weapon in our arsenal to send a message.  Fashion has the innate ability to influence politics, culture, life, and that is not an exaggerated claim.

F A S H I O N    I S    A    W E A P O N

We outfit ourselves to match our views and beliefs about anything and everything pertinent, be it consciously or subconsciously.  And regularly too.  Because essentially, human society equals a dressed society.  What one wears, how one wears it and when one wears it constitutes expressions of degrees of social freedoms and influences.

Dress expression spans the full gamut from conformity (yuck) to doing your own thing (hey girl hey).  Simply put, a dress style that challenges (or is perceived as challenging, or offering an alternative to the status quo) quickly acquires a double entendre.

Hence the social power of fashion.

Of dressing up.

A N D    T H A T ' S    W H A T    W E ' R E    D O I N G    T O D A Y

Fashion statements can mean a variety of things.  Clearly.  They can be a statement of liberation, such as women wearing pants in the ’50s and ’60s.  They can be statements of personality, such as funky vintage wear that reflects your aura.  Or, as in my case, the ever present touch of leather and metal, and let’s not forget my battalion of shoes either.  They can even be statements on the state of fashion itself, such as Jennifer Lopez’s infamous belly dress (which, if reports are to be believed, is the catalyst which gave rise to the birth of that thing we have all come to love and desperately depend on, Google Search.  I kid you not).

This month, the Fab 40s are doing something which appears easy and innocuous on the surface, but which has actually turned out to be quite the mind-bender.  For me, at least.

Statement Tees.

Simple enough, yes?

No.

When it came down to the crunch, I realised I really wanted to make a point with my tee of choice, duh Sheela, but the problem was I couldn’t decide on what statement I wanted to make.

You all know how I feel about self-love, empowerment, anything conventional.

And because of that, I felt I had to push the envelope just a bit with the message I sent.  So I hunted and I hunted and I dug and I dug (literally through piles of tee shirts, Jennie, pinkie swear), until I remembered this piece.

Woman Up.

Definition of Woman Up, “Continue to put one foot in front of the other, moving forward, ever moving forward regardless of fear or the unknown. Moving forward, sometimes half day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time.

To be your own person, to be in control of your own life.  To take charge, and not let anyone else tell you what to do.

It was perfect (and it will become even more apparent why I chose this tee shirt when you click on the website from which it came).

Let’s take a look at what everyone did this month.  It’s nothing short of spectacular.  And unique.  And completely true to their individual personalities.

Jennie, A Pocketful Of Polka Dots

Jennie | A Pocketful of Polka Dots

Like me, Jennie has a definite thing for shoes.  Unlike me, she wears them all from preppy loafers to sweet Mary Janes, to today’s rendition of sex on heels.  Everything melds beautifully here, yet makes a powerful impact on its own.  The polka dots on her blazer echo the spikes on her shoes perfectly.  Her belt and tote could very well be fraternal twins.  And her statement tee?  Ha!!! Too precious and all too true for many of us.

Ann, Kremb de la Kremb

Ann | Kremb de la Kremb

Annie always brings something fresh to the table, and it is almost always accompanied by a zesty pop of colour.  Here, she’s taken basic tee + cutoffs, and turned the outfit into something which falls neatly (and nicely) into the realm of athleisure, with dollops of fun. See the heart-shaped sunnies, and the pom pom drop earrings, and her signature waist pouch which, I think, is housing a brightly coloured kerchief?  And her sneakers.  I want her sneakers.

Mary, Curly Byrdie Chirps

Mary | Curly Byrdie Chirps

I rather feel that Mary had a stroke of genius in pairing her tee with that hi-lo skirt with its glorious, flirty ruffles (is that a bustle effect??). What a dramatic look!!  Nothing is matchy matchy, but everything comes together immaculately.  From the tassel earrings to the shades in her hand, right down to those heels making her legs look as though they go on forever.  And what an excellent choice of a statement.  Honey.  Smooth.  Sweet.  Perfect.

Suzy, Suzy Turner

Suzy | Suzy Turner

Let’s shine.  Yes, please, let’s.  Thank you, Suzy, for this statement you’re making.  It may not be the message you intended to share but it’s certainly the one I’ve interpreted 🙂 thank you for the reminder that we must shine bright.  Like a diamond.  And shine so bright until no one can dim our lights, not even ourselves.  Incidentally, your entire outfit is divine.  The subtle yet gilded glimmers of gold.  The flirty tulle.  Quite the Midas touch.

For this month, we have the lovely Maria as our guest.

Maria | Passionfruit, Paws & Peonies

I was just talking to Eve about this two evenings ago.  The importance of “me” time.  And the equal importance of doing absolutely nothing which can also translate into “me” time, and how terribly underrated that appears to be these days.  We think nothing of slaving away for our loved ones.  For deadlines.  But when it comes to investing a few moments into ourselves, that heady rush of guilt is all too familiar a sensation.  That has to stop.  It’s not healthy.  That’s the reason why Maria’s look is my absolute fave this month!!  And the fact that yes, those jeans do work wonders for one’s finest assets GRIN thank you so much for being a part of The Fab 40s this month, lady!!!

And here’s me.

Top (c/o Smile Makers ) | Suit (Forever21) | Cuff (c/o Unearthed) | Sunnies (Chanel)

Happy Monday, everyone!!  I leave tomorrow for a month long vacation back in Borneo, and true to form, have yet to finish packing.  Help.

 

KISSES!!!

 

Love, Sheela

p/s I link up here.

The Fab 40s & Their Fairy Tale Inspirations

Wonder. Awe. Magic.

Stories of enchantment and spells.

 

As you all know, I love to write.  What you may not know is where that love stems from.  And that is the literary diet upon which I was raised.  It fed feeds my soul.  My mother introduced me to wordsmith Enid Blyton from the moment we could read.  And then further augmented the nourishment of my creative side with C S Lewis, Tolkien, Bronte, Eyre, Agatha Christie, you get the general idea.  Over the years, my library has expanded to include murder, crime and fantasy novels but I’ve never once deviated from my original love obsession with the beguiling and captivating world of fairy tales and wonderment and magic.

O N C E    U P O N    A    T I M E

Those four words.

Whenever I see them, read them, my heart does a little flutter.

I slip away into my secret place, where castles go high into the sky.

Where woods are dark and mysterious, and where the air is rife with enchantment so palpable that if you reached out a finger, you’d touch it.  A place where from the corner of the eye, you swear the sound of that rustle was a fairy quickly ducking surreptitiously behind the shrub.  Or that, when pressed, toadstools would spring forth stairways ingeniously hidden within the trunks of trees, stairways leading to magical lands residing atop said trees.

I’m certain it’s quite evident that my fondness for fairy tales and fairy tale lands has not dissipated in the least.  I can’t quite put it into words but I’ve always felt that there’s something so infinitely charming about believing (and steadfastly so) in faeries and talking woodland creatures and pixies and stairways that lead to the most fascinating of worlds.

Beyond that, it gives me, dare I say it, hope?

Faith?

In the power of good trumping evil.

I know it does appear to be quite the stretch but that’s how it’s always been for me.

Accordingly, you can also imagine how much I’ve adored the fact that several Fab 40s themes of late have revolved around princesses and villains and the such.  And this month is even more heavenly.  Tales of the unexpected, a fairy tale inspiration.  True to Sheela form, I only picked up on the final four words (I mean, can you really blame me?).

A fairy tale inspiration.

And if it wasn’t obvious by now (which means I didn’t do my job and I will be sad, teardrop), I’m the Evil Queen from Snow White.  In my photos, I am the version from Once Upon A Time, i.e., Regina, Mayor of Storybrooke aka Evil Queen Regina.  I’m conniving, manipulative, with a fabulous boss lady wardrobe, and I’m sleeping with the Sheriff/Huntsman (cough, Christian Grey).

Oh, and I kick ass AHEM

E V I L    D O E S N ' T    A L W A Y S    L O O K    E V I L

Let’s take a look at what everyone did this month.  It’s nothing short of spectacular.  And unique.  And completely true to their individual personalities.

Suzy, Suzy Turner

Suzy | Suzy Turner

The lovely Suzy enthralls once again this month with her interpretation of, I quote, “I’m channeling all the dark villainesses from fairy tales … bwahaaahaa”.  She looks all manner of regal and splendifirous and dangerous and lethal.  I love.

Jennie, A Pocketful Of Polka Dots

Jennie | A Pocketful of Polka Dots

That flirty, pretty, girly vibe of Jennie’s outfit is so absolutely at odds with her muse story, The Red Shoes that it’s perfect.  Once you set aside the sense of macabre, however, everything makes sense.  The sassy dress.  Those divine red high heels.

Ann, Kremb de la Kremb

Ann | Kremb de la Kremb

Annie takes the prize, in my books (see what I did there?), for staying super true to (every single word of) this month’s theme.  There she sits, looking appropriately playful, in a pile of Tales Of The Unexpected books, with her signature sneakers and evil eye accessories.

Mary, Curly Byrdie Chirps

Mary | Curly Byrdie Chirps

How adorable does Mary look as Belle from Beauty and The Beast?  I love the yellow.  And the gingham print.  And the straw basket bag.  Did I mention how adorable she looks?  Those sunshiny yellow heels with the white mesh socks are just beyond words.

For this month, we have the lovely Andrea as our guest.

Andrea | Living On Cloud Nine

If there was a visual representation of the words, “enchanted forest“, this would be it, my friends.  I mean, how beautiful is this photo, with the dreamy backdrop??  Yes, mine’s also set in the woods but, you know, Sheela’s all about dark and mysterious and somewhat foreboding LOL anyway, I could tell Andrea was Cinderella the moment I laid eyes upon her, and I think that means she’s done a brilliant job.  Thank you so much for being a part of The Fab 40s this month, lady!!!

And here’s me.

Plaid Taffeta Bustier (thrifted) | Velvet Shorts (H&M) | Goth Bangle & Raven Skull Ring (Alchemy of England) | Suede Heels (Cicihot) | Red Cuff (c/o Unearthed) | Leather Bondage Choker (c/o ManicPanic NYC) | Moonstone Ring (c/o Moonmagic.com) | Ombre Sunnies (Poshmark) | Lipstick – #2 MeloMELI (c/o Beautytap.com) | Red Apple (c/o husband)

I honestly feel there is a lot of Regina in me.  That, given the right situation, the right circumstance, I could very well be an evil queen.  That we could all very well turn that corner and be that person with a dark side.  It’s the side we choose to dominate that dictates how we live our lives, be it in the light or the shadows.  After all, evil isn’t born.  Evil is made.

On that somewhat sombre note, I leave you to ponder on GRIN

 

Love, Sheela

I link up here.

What’s In A Name

Truly, I ask you.

What’s in a name these days?

 

Cosmetic brands have been concocting all sorts of names for their lippies since the longest time ever. And it makes sense too given how saturated the landscape has become. Everyone appears to be releasing make-up lines from established players kicking out new collections, to names you’d typically associate with garments, not beauty, looking to cash in on a woman’s (neverending) pursuit of that perfect pout. It’s practically a new lippie a day.

Actually, more.

From a business perspective, it makes perfect sense.

I’m as commitment phobic as the next woman when it comes to beauty purchases. Afterall, how many nude shades can one wear at any given time? And you can’t really be walking out of the house with smokey eyes every day because, you know, we crave variety. As such, most of us are hesitant to commit to palettes of colour but think nothing of forking out anything from $5 to $50 for what promises to prime and plump, and take us from kissable to kiss-me-now.

Why am I bringing up the topic today?  Well, because last night I was on Ulta and, contrary to my usual routine (I know what I want ahead of time so I go in, search by brand, find the product, check out and log off), decided I’d click on the category of Lipsticks. See what else was happening, you know. And wow, is there a lot happening in the world of lip colours.

There’s enough variety to baffle the sanest amongst us.

Anything from the palest of pinks to traffic-stopping reds and everything in between.  With an equally wide array of names too.  From Blackmail to Foul Mouth and Subversive Socialite to Perversion, Psycho and Alien, to somewhat less aggressive monikers including Frog Prince, Unicorn and Coquette, Babe Alert, Teddy Bear and Marshmallow.  Let’s not forget the ones named after family and friends (I’m looking at you, Kylie!!), or entire beauty business empires spawned off by their social media success (think Huda).

By no means have I exhausted the list.  In fact, I sincerely doubt I’ve even scratched a sliver of the surface.

I bring this up because of how much power the name of a lipstick holds over us, in determining whether or not we are willing to purchase it, bring it home, and paint our pouts with it.

Envision a lipstick called Nerd Alert.  Or Dear Dork.  Or Her Royal Weirdness.  How popular do you think it would be?  Do you envision lipstick tubes with those names flying off the shelves?  I seriously doubt it.

More often than not, our purchases are motivated by brand aspiration.  What we perceive the brand stands for, what it represents.  Imagine if those three lipsticks were instead named as Nerd Couture?  Or Dork Diva?  Or Same Is Lame?  What a difference it would make to how the consumer feels about buying them.

We want names that either resonate with us or inspire us.  Yes, even when it comes to lipsticks and, for that matter, cosmetics in general, I suspect, including scents.

For example, some of the must-have-no-matter-what lippies in my now close to 450 member strong treasure trove of lipsticks are called Lady Danger, Punk Couture, Seduction, Exotic, Bustier, with my absolute I-would-wither-away-and-die-without shades being baptised as Maitresse, Muse Red, Dragon Lady and Femme Fatale.

Is it because I see myself as being a little lady-like and a little punk?  Oscillating between being seductive and coy?  Dominating and taking charge as much as being submissive and demure?  Why, yes, yes I do indeed.  I relate to all these names because I see bits of my personality in each one of them.  They speak to me.

And that is precisely how powerful a pull the name of a lipstick can exert.

Orange Trench (Boohoo) | Fuchsia Playsuit (Forever21) | Lace Bra & Floral Booties (Poshmark) | Cuff c/o Unearthed | Sunnies (Chanel) | Lipstick is Quite The Standout (MAC)

Your turn.

What’s the name of your fave lipstick(s)?

And now that you’ve read this post, how much do you think its name affected your decision to purchase?  Think it through before you answer, and please, let me know what that is by leaving me a comment below.

 

Love, Sheela

I link up here.

The Fab 40s In Culottes

Culottes. Breeches.

Gauchos. Jodhpurs. Whatchamacallits.

 

(I want to begin by extending a HUGE apology to my fellow fab 40 ladies, because this post is two days late, my blog was literally inaccessible since Sunday night because of technical issues, I couldn’t even get to the dashboard, and had to work with WordPress support via phone to resolve the problem, please forgive me ladies, please, this has NEVER happened before and I am so not a techie, it was really frustrating, but here we are, finally)

Of late, I seem to be at a loss for words to say.  I’ve been staring at the screen since Thursday, and it’s already Sunday evening.  I’m not sure why that is.  I have the thoughts running through my mind but somewhere along the way, it would appear, they’re all jumbled up.  Like internet connectivity on a bad weather day, you know?  I don’t understand it though.  I don’t think I’ve ever been speechless.

Or is it wordless, when it comes to writing?

D O    Y O U    K N O W    T H E    A N S W E R?

Anyway, the point is that when I first thought of this post, I couldn’t think beyond the fact that (a) I certainly did not want to write something about culottes, their origins/history, the numerous variations thereof; and (b) neither did I want to write about why I used to loathe them with a passion.  So what was left, I asked myself?

Then I thought perhaps I could spin this in a different manner.

I want to talk about how, before my blog was born (and apparently, even after), I wouldn’t touch culottes with a 10 foot pole.  I mean, the last time I wore a pair was at the age of 13, and those looked like riding breeches.  In a nondescript pea-soup-shade-of-murky-greige.  Alas, it was not a fashion statement pair.  What can I say, I was at that I-want-to-fade-into-obscurity phase of teenage life.

Never did I remotely think that over three decades later, not only would I put on a pair of culottes again (here and here), but that I would wear it for a global audience.  My younger self would be shaking her head in grave disbelief.  No, make that utter shock.

And I can understand why.  I wouldn’t be caught dead in culottes in front of family and friends but hey, I’m good with flaunting them on the Internet, for the entire blogosphere to see.

Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

Which leads to the crux of this tale.

Many of us started blogging to experiment with wonderful, different things to wear.  Using our special, personal space on the world wide web as a visual diary, logging and chronicling the things we did, the food we ate, the workouts that actually, well, worked, and, of course, the clothes we wore.  Dreamt of wearing.  Or were afraid to wear.

And how is it that the very outfits which send us spiralling into a state of consternation in our real world lives, we have zero qualms in parading them upon the biggest stage imaginable.

I’ll tell you my thought process.

If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

For reals.

(that guy with the dogs? he offered the adorable Harriet and Mr Bear as accessories, of course I said yes, the pooches weren’t too keen though so he had to pose with them)

Isn’t that the oddest?

That it wasn’t actually the blog which gave me confidence to assemble never-before-tried outfit combinations (or colours, for that matter, yes, I’m one of those who insists there are varying shades of black and I have to own all of them), it was the premise of no physical person being around to see me, judge me.  The absence of a tangible audience emboldened me.

L I B E R A T E D    M E

Does that happen to you too?

And now, we come to this month’s edition of The Fab 40s.  It was my turn to pick a theme, so I decided to go with culottes. Like why not.  I maintain a healthy dislike for them but at the same time, the concept of wearing pants that mimic skirts that feel as comfy as pants, well, that’s a proposition is isn’t easily turned down GRIN so hello culottes.  My fellow fabulous friends were equally intrigued (sorry, Jenny, I made you go shopping #sorrynotsorry), and their individual interpretations R-O-C-K.

Come see.

Suzy, Suzy Turner

Suzy | Suzy Turner

I am in absolute awe of how Suzy went from Gloria Vanderbilt to hip Pocahontas (if Pocahontas had a pixie cut, that is) in the blink of an eye.  Such an unexpected pairing of suede with denim here.  My fave touch is that divine tribal necklace.

Jennie, A Pocketful Of Polka Dots

Jennie | A Pocketful of Polka Dots

Who else thinks “spunky” or “sassy” when they’re looking at this beautiful shot of Jennie?  Isn’t she the absolute bomb?  Equal parts sexy and fun, I’m pretty sure this is my favourite outfit for the month.  Those pretty stripes? It’s like she’s wearing a rainbow.

Ann, Kremb de la Kremb

Anne | Kremb de la Kremb

This is also my fave outfit of the month. Hey, a woman can have two in one same post!! I mean, how could anyone not love polka dots?? In graphic black and white, no less, with those groovy sunnies providing a vibrant pop of red.

Mary, Curly Byrdie Chirps

Mary | Curly Byrdie Chirps

Confession, when I chose culottes as the theme, I had a teeny inkling that Mary might perhaps be wearing a jumpsuit.  Bham!! But it never crossed my mind that it’d be this delicate, super pretty baby blue number topped with that sleek white duster vest.

For this month, we have the chic and poised Kim as our guest.

Kim | The J'adore Couture

How beautiful is this photo, first of all?  It has a delicate, old world charm to it that speaks to my ancient soul.  I’ve been following Kim on Instagram for a while now.  You should too.  She has a style that is so effortless that I, well, in all honesty, quite envy and covet.  Effortless yet polished and sharp and, best of all, with a hint of wit that is so rare (and needed) in the sartorial playground these days.  Thank you so much for being a part of The Fab 40s this month, Kim!!!

And here’s me.

Blush Faux Leather Moto Jacket (Sans Souci) | Lace Camisole (OVS Italy) | B&W Striped Culottes (Poshmark) | Booties (Cicihot) | Choker (c/o Manic Panic NYC) | Sunnies (Goodwill)

This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to looking “corporate” and it almost did not make the cut.  Why, you ask?  Well, it just seemed a smidge too straitlaced.  Backing it up a little, the original composition comprised of a cropped cardigan which I very quickly discarded in favour of that blush moto jacket you now see.  Oh and an S&M looking choker for added effect.

How about you?

How has blogging boosted your sense of bravado?  Your confidence?  Your dare-to streak?

 

Love, Sheela

I link up here.

Receiving Compliments

Err. Emm. Errr.

Why can’t we accept compliments?

 

I’ve come to realise something recently.  Well, no, actually, it’s been pointed out to me by my husband in the past, and rather frequently too, but I simply never quite took stock of it.  Sorry, my love, for not listening to you, but you’re always so biased, in my favour, I don’t know when to believe what you say (I love you!!)

So yes, that one thing I’ve developed awareness of?  That women are, basically, terrible when it comes to accepting compliments, and yes, I’m part of that statistic.  And this isn’t even a new phenomenon upon which we can blame, oh I don’t know, the current sexist administration?  I digress.  It would seem that the vast majority of my species feels uncomfortable in the face of unsolicited kudos.  We stutter and get all awkward, guilty even (dare I say).  And shuffle most uncomfortably towards the guaranteed death of said conversation.

W H Y    I S    T H A T ?

To determine if this was an occurrence which happened only within my immediate circle (myself included), I thought I’d undertake a little experiment.

What if I complimented every female I met over the weekend?

What would transpire?

How would they react?

Surely, at least one would respond positively?

Lap up my compliment?

Right?

So did any women accept one of my freebie compliments?  Did anyone own it and relish the joys of non-fished-for praise?  Here’s the thing, I distributed my words of praise to strangers, and coworkers alike.  Sadly, not a single one of these fabulous women stood back and accepted their compliment.  Not.  One.

A woman I’ve been seeing at the gym for the past few years?  Based on her clothes and posture, and how she carried herself in conversations, I’ve long admired her as a power-player.  And guess what?  She became uncomfortable when I commented on how pretty I thought her bracelet was.  “Oh, I found this at the bottom of the drawer. It’s really old,” she mumbled.

The compliments I dished out were hardly radical.  I mean, it was just about taking a moment to tell women something complimentary, when they had something to justifiably compliment.

And it wasn’t a gentle rebuffing, either.  The majority of females I spoke to instantly tore themselves down.  At best, a few did this weird uncomfortable laugh, whilst looking down at their (shuffling) feet, rather like a version of saying, “Please stop!!

I myself am not a keen recipient of compliments.  Don’t get me wrong, I love them but I definitely feel embarrassed and get all flummoxed when I’m complimented, and I have an inkling it’s because I don’t believe I deserve them.  Especially when it’s coming from family because, after all, family members are pre-programmed to look at me with rose-tinted vision, yes?

I read somewhere that rebuffing compliments is something women have learned over time.  That many women are socialised to be humble, modest, and to avoid external displays of pride or arrogance.  Therefore, our default response is to be demure and rebuff compliments.  From women.  And, conversely, women are twice as likely to accept a compliment from a man than from another woman.

I S N ' T    T H A T    F A S C I N A T I N G ?

But how can we deviate from what appears to be our natural setting?  How do we start to stop dodging the compliments?   The first step is to acknowledge that accepting a compliment is actually beneficial to self-worth.  Savour the compliment instead of immediately batting it away.

Saying thanks might feel iffy and arrogant and even self-absorbed in the beginning.  And those feelings are very natural, yes, but it’s not a sign that you’re doing something wrong.  Because you’re not.  Just like any kind of habit or behavioural change, accepting compliments will initially feel uncomfortable, but we need to train ourselves to do it.

And upgrade our perceptions of ourselves that we deserve the compliments.  That we are worthy.  And take comfort in the fact that accepting compliments is beneficial for our emotional wellbeing.

I’m quite certain our self-worth will thank us for it later.

Top (c/o Shein Official ) | Shorts (H&M) | Booties (Cicihot) | Sunnies (Poshmark)

And how’s that for light Monday reading, huh?  GRIN you can always count on me to be forthcoming.  And honest.  And no holds barred.

 

KISSES!!!

 

Love, Sheela

p/s I link up here.

pp/s yes, that’s a blue trashcan, a cool blue trashcan, mind you.