“Goals take commitment but are much more achievable when handled realistically and from a place of possibility.” – Cyndie Spiegel
Cyndie Spiegel is a business strategy coach for creative entrepreneurs who believes in the profound effects available through integrating meditation into your career. I first discovered her on Periscope and instantly connected with her upbeat personality and creative spirit as well as her background in fashion. I also find Cyndie particularly relatable because she never fails to lighten the mood or emphasize a point with a swear word (or two). I finally had the chance to meet her in person at the Freelancer’s Union popup event, Meditate, Create, and Cultivate.
Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly curious about meditation. I read a couple books (both of which I would highly recommend – a personal narrative by Dan Harris called 10% Happier and a beginner’s guide called 8 Minute Meditation). I started practicing but never consistently. Then, within the past couple weeks, meditation started popping up in various facets of my life – in a yoga class, on Periscope, and in my horoscope. When I saw Cyndie’s workshop, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to delve deeper.
Meditation is often thought of as a spiritual practice. However, Cyndie believes in approaching it in a more practical way. She guided us through a basic ten minute meditation followed by a series of activities focused on letting go of limiting beliefs and gaining clarity in goalsetting. First, Cyndie directed us to sit comfortably, close our eyes, and root ourselves in the present moment. Next, she encouraged us to honor the time to connect with ourselves and our inner wisdom. As the minutes went on, Cyndie reminded us to be patient, keep sitting, and focus on our breath. The activities that followed aimed to harness the clarity and openness gained through meditation and apply it to a goal we intend to accomplish in the next three months.
To me, goalsetting can be intimidating and overwhelming. The simple act of stating a goal can make you feel vulnerable or anxious as the pressure to achieve it amounts. Detailing the steps, checkpoints, and barriers to accomplishing a goal can be equally staggering. You may begin to realize that the path to your goal is long or that there may be a number of roadblocks along the way. These feelings and beliefs are the exact limitations that can prevent you from realizing your goal. After using Cyndie’s meditation method, I felt the negativity dissipate, and I was able to approach the goalsetting process with more confidence. I left the event feeling incredibly energized and excited to expand my meditation practice into my career and my current and future goals.
Today I’m kicking off a monthly series, the Creative Habit, inspired by Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit (which I highly recommend reading). The focus of the book and this new monthly series is best summarized in a passage from Tharp’s practical guide:
“The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more. And this routine is available to everyone. Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for businesspeople looking for new ways to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way… Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell.”
Since leaving college and the cushion of being surrounded by countless peers, professors, and mentors all of whom were writers or dancers or artists, I’ve struggled to maintain my creative self. In my experience, the older you get, the more you lose that youthful abandonment and in turn, begin to lose your creativity. In addition to outside forces impacting our creative selves, we’re at greater risk of inhibiting our own creativity as adults. We allow the left brain to kick in with logic, analysis, and judgement, and we become quick to extinguish or abandon our natural creative impulses. Slowly but surely, over the past five years, I’ve fought to maintain my creative self. It’s challenging, and that’s why I believe in forming a creative habit.
For this Creative Habit series, I’ll present you with a creative assignment toward the end of each month. Then, for the thirty days that follow, I challenge you to incorporate the creative habit into your routine. The tasks will start out very basic so that you can discover what creative habit works best for your lifestyle and your creative self. September’s challenge is to simply embrace the last several weeks of summer weather and go outside every day. I don’t just mean walk from your car to your office or step in the backyard to let out your dog – really go outside! When was the last time you sprawled out in the grass and gazed at the sky? Do you ever go on a walk or run without your headphones and let your surroundings speak to you?
So many of us are confined indoors for 80-90% of the day. As a freelance writer who typically works from a home office, there have been periods where I didn’t leave my apartment for three to four days at a time! This is an extremely unhealthy work practice, and I can definitely say my creativity was at an all-time low during these stints. Now, living in New York City without a car, I’m forced to spend time outside almost anytime I need to go somewhere, but that doesn’t always mean I’m engaged with my surroundings. Most people who are going from Point A to Point B on the streets of NYC are in their own worlds – talking on the phone, listening to their headphones, or even reading a book or newspaper. Remove the extraneous technology, noise, and distractions! Don’t just go outside, be present in the outdoors and appreciate your natural surroundings.
Over the next month please share your experience making a habit of going outside with the hashtag #AOCBlogCreativeHabit
I was staying with friends in Astoria when I came to New York City to search for my apartment. After a boozy brunch, we wandered to PS1, the MoMA extension in Queens for art too modern for the Midtown Manhattan museum. The gallery was in transition and only two exhibitions were open, so we spent some time browsing the gift shop. It was there I discovered Worn Stories by Emily Spivack.
Worn Stories epitomizes the intimate relationship we have with our clothing that is so difficult to articulate. Instead of composing a novel or stating it outright, Spivack prompted individuals – from personal friends to fashion industry veterans – to simply select an article of clothing they couldn’t part with and tell the story behind it. The collection of sartorial memoirs could easily serve as a character study of diverse, fascinating individuals. However, the focus of the highly personal tales and recollections remains on the clothes.
“… when one of the sleeves ripped off, it reached a point where I felt like I couldn’t wear it anymore. I had a friend named Guy who was a painter in Tel Aviv. He’d been doing a series of paintings of everyday objects, so I commissioned him to make a painting of the shirt… When he was working on it, I’d get emails like, ‘Karuna, this shirt, it’s killing me. So simple and yet so complicated!’” – Karuna Scheinfeld, VP of design at Woolrich
The role of clothing in the stories and in these individuals’ lives emphasizes the significance of our apparel to our core being. Our clothing is not just what we wear, it’s who we are. Not in the sense that wearing a particular label makes you better or more elite – in fact most of the articles of clothing selected for Worn Stories are quite mundane and ordinary – but in the sense that our clothing is an extension of ourselves.
Emily Spivack is the creator of Threaded, the Smithsonian’s fashion history blog. She is also a public speaker, teacher, creative spirit, and the author of Worn Stories (which can be purchased here.) For more worn stories, visit the ongoing project here.
The term “fashion community” has a lot of different meanings – the elite who frequent Fashion Weeks around the globe, the teams who compose the world’s top fashion publications, or the bloggers who document their style stories. Then there are individuals who simply have an innate affinity for fashion. They may not have a career in fashion or a natural outlet to connect with others like them who inherently attach meaning to articles of clothing or who are in intimate relationships with their wardrobes. For these individuals, “fashion community” is difficult to find.
Iona was one of those rare places from which a truly fervent “fashion community” evolved. Here, all breeds of fashion fanatics gathered not only to shop a meticulously curated selection of wares but also to connect. Shopping at Iona was an experience. You had the pleasure of both indulging in unique, beautiful, high-quality fashion and engaging in meaningful conversation about fashion (and life).
At Iona, you stepped out of the dressing room not just to model a look but to discuss fabric content, color trends, or the backstory of a designer. Ultimately, these out-of-the-dressing-room conversations culminated in a photo. A simple photo in front of a plain white wall. The combination of it all – the clothing, the dialogue, the knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of what you were wearing – could give any girl the confidence to transform into a model if only just for the instant the shutter clicked.
That feeling of solidarity is what a “fashion community” can give you.
So today I’m celebrating Iona and the sense of community it provided for me and countless others. In particular, I’m celebrating Pamela Wilson, the creator of Iona whose fierce passion for fashion, creativity, quality, and aesthetic became the driving force of the “fashion community” that evolved there.
For those who live in the Madison area, Iona is open for business today and tomorrow.
Athens, GA, 2008
ME: That’s an awesome leather bag. Where’d you get it?
JULIE: Thanks! Actually, my friend Elke made it.
It’s hard to forget a name like Elke. So, when my friend Julie shared that By Elke had recently launched a new site, I had to check out the latest designs from the maker of the bag I’d coveted seven years prior. Within a few clicks, I fell in love all over again.
NYC, Upper West Side Trunk Show
One of a Kind Summer Bags, Accessories, and Jewelry
By Elke & Kim Clary Designs
Please contact me for details as this is a private event
It was a beautiful spring day on the evening of the trunk show. When I arrived at the Upper West Side high-rise, I was greeted by a doorman who directed me to the elevator. I entered the third floor apartment warily and walked toward the buzz of chatter and laughter. The spacious living area was lined wall to wall with handbags, satchels, totes, and cross-bodies galore. In the center were tables decorated with clutches, wallets, and other small accessories. The smell of fresh, supple leather permeated the room. Some women were holding up the bags, inspecting their insides, and discussing the various colors and styles. Others were modeling prospective purchases in front of a large wall-mounted mirror.
I kept walking, through a threshold and into another open space with tables of beaded baubles. In this room, women were piling on stacks of bracelets and layering varying lengths of necklaces, contemplating the perfect combinations.
At first, I was overwhelmed. I was standing in the midst of a trunk show in a home on the UWS with a porch larger than my entire East River-adjacent apartment. I was wearing jeans and my comfortable city shoes because I’d walked across town nearly three miles since “the weather was nice” but really to save on cab fare. I was surrounded by some of the most beautiful handmade leather bags and beaded jewelry I’d ever seen, and dozens of well-dressed uptown women were whirling around me, modeling bags and jewelry in the midst of their own personal fashion shows. I needed a drink to diffuse my insecurities.
After hitting up the spread of refreshments in the kitchen, I was ready to shop. First, I composed a bohemian arm party by pairing beaded bracelets by Kim Clary Designs with By Elke’s leather bangle. Then, it was onto the handbags! Once I spotted this woven clutch (similar here) with tassel detail, I was smitten. After I made my purchases, I took one final moment to bask in the beauty of the spacious UWS home before heading back across five avenues, twenty blocks, and through Central Park to my humble East River-adjacent apartment.
Photography by Sonali Prabhu of So Narly