NCR: New Culture Revolution

New Culture Revolution is a blog co-created by Sima Kumar & Kristin Kreuk. We post mostly about love, yoga, style & travel.

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NCR: Yogue > Yoga + Style

There is a difference between “looking good” being “good looking” and beauty. To me beauty is timeless and encompasses much more than designer clothes, good bone structure and great hair and makeup. It is something that emanates from a place within.

For me the people I experience as beautiful are kind, thoughtful, honest. There is an acceptance of who they art and an honesty about how they project that in the world. Couple these aspects of a human with someone who is creative and thinks about ways to dress as a way to share themselves with the world - I see this as beauty.

Beauty is a deeply personal journey yet a very universal expression. It is beyond something that is surface because beauty is sustainable. It doesn’t fade as we age it simply transforms. ~ Sima

NCR: Wife Life > Wednesday Wisdom

Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears. ~ Arthur Koestler

I’m sharing this quote today because I see how many people want to connect and feel a sense of trust and belonging with each other. I also see how so many people go about doing many opposite behaviours that keep us from this very thing.

When I took counsel with Swami Santhi after my husband The Italian -unexpectedly proposed - contemplating and exploring this karma I would be starting was something I weighed up heavily. I refer to The Italian and myself as O & O (Old and Older). It was when Swamiji said to me that marriage would be the next phase of my spiritual growth that I moved from fear to courage. He explained to me that we could only evolve so much as an individual. And that he believed I was ready for the next phase of my spiritual journey. This was the biggest factor to me taking the leap of faith.

What about LOVE?!? I can hear the cries now. Well - I don’t believe love is enough. Ask any couple in a long term relationship and they will say the same. Because The Italian and I are O & O - we know this from past relationships. We have both been blessed to experience epic love affairs with other people. I believe a successful relationship requires a shared goal which two people are committed to working towards. The Italian and I have that.

Love is a feeling it is not the foundation. To me, the foundation has to be something much more exclusive than the universality of love.

Being in a marriage relationship has taught me courage in a hyper magnified way. Being married has taught me I can pretend to do my relationship or I can do my relationship. How many relationships are we pretending to do? At the end of the day there is only one choice that will be successful. My marriage relationship is a macrocosm of all other relationships. Perhaps it’s another relationship that magnifies for you the fast track to reality. For me it’s focussing on my Wife Life. Because although I’m a daughter, sister, aunty, niece, cousin, friend and colleague to many, I’m a wife to only one.

If you’re playing games, double talking, isolating, justifying or denying - that thing you want - love & acceptance - will always be elusive.

Pretending is a waste of life and living. My suggestion to anyone on a ride that is making you sick at the playground we call Life - simply get off. Figure out the unravelling after. But first get off the ride that is literally making you sick. To quote Michael Stipe of REM “it’s hard to walk with dignity with throw up on your shoes.” ~ Sima

NCR:  Yoga > ABC new anchor Dan Harris on meditation

ABC news anchor Dan Harris experienced a panic attack live on air. Here we have an American male skeptic share how embracing meditation changed his life. He explains the science behind it very clearly. Take a few minutes out of your day to listen to what he has to say… and don’t forget to brush your teeth! ~ Sima

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywp4vaFJASE

NCR: Aerin Lauder > Home Is Where The Art Is

Ever since I saw Aerin Lauder’s book Beauty At Home, my favourite page is the one with the quote I’ve shared. I love how through her childrens’ art she is organically being a supportive mother and a mentor. It’s so easy to be a contributor vs. contaminator. The more I fine tune my life and the way I want to live and participate and engage, the more acutely I see this. I especially love what she says about taking the work of her children seriously. That confidence that comes from the encouragement of our parents is more potent than anyone realizes in the moment. It’s effects have a great reach. ~ Sima

"Mom used to frame everything we made, and now I’m following her example. It makes children so proud to see their work on display instead of hidden away. I figure if I take my children’s work seriously, maybe they will too. And it reinforces the idea that art is not something alien and esoteric. Anyone can make art." ~ Aerin Lauder 

art photo from the book: Beauty at Home

portrait of Aerin Lauder via Elle Magazine

NCR: Documentary > Fed Up

The sugar cartel. This movie is a must watch. A severe wake up call.

NCR: Monday Wisdom > YSL

One of the greatest fashion designers of our time and the man responsible for making the female tuxedo, Yves Saint Laurent helps us keep it real. Happy Monday! ~ Sima

NCR: Joan Rivers > Who Are You Wearing?

It was Joan Rivers who changed the fashion & celebrity relationship by being the first person to ask the question "Who are you wearing?" while interviewing celebrities on the red carpet.

This had a profound impact on the partnership between fashion and the film & tv industry. So in turn she had a profound impact on my career. Much of my work as a stylist took place in dressing celebrities for the red carpet. This post is to honour a very funny lady and one who was a game changer. May she rest in peace. ~ Sima

NCR: Yoga > How The Sun Sees You 

Here’s a really great visual to  inspire you to take care of your skin - your largest and only visible organ. ~ Sima

NCR: Yoga > @ RIP > BKS IYENGAR

And so a great spark has returned to the divine. 

Renown yoga master B K S Iyengar has passed away. He was largely credited with bringing yoga (asana) to a wider western audience.

I enjoyed going to the Iyengar studio in London’s Maida Vale neighbourhood on a regular basis. An oasis at the end of Randolph Avenue - the studio was loyal to it’s namesake. A very strict physical practice it was through Iyengar yoga that I healed much of a chronic shoulder injury.

Iyengar was quoted as saying “I always tell people, live happily and die majestically”. ~ Sima

NCR: Sima Says > A Year In Review

Living to 44 has been mind blasting for me. A lot happened and so much changed. Ultimately each of us must decide how we want to live and learn how to be more discerning. We will all meet shiny people who blind us with their brilliance but wait before running off with them so you may see the ones that have a steady flame in the centre and will go the distance with you.

A number of people asked me to write a post about a few things I’ve learned along the way. I endeavour to carry these lessons with me from today onwards and promise to surround myself with people who will remind me if and when I forget.

1. Release ALL expectations from everything & everyone. This is pretty much a mind f*ck and takes daily practice. But it is so worth it. Because you create space to experience people, places and things closer to what they truly are in that moment vs. what you expect them / it to be. Expectation is directly linked to Attachment. Attachment is the source of much of our suffering.

2. It’s the information age & the highway of technology sees everyone speeding. My advice: SLOW DOWN. If you receive a harsh email from someone who tells you a) you suck at your job b) you’re a horrible human being c) points out all the things wrong with you d) gives you unsolicited advice or opinions (I’m 100% guilty of this one) e) all of the above - DON’T RESPOND. Be patient. Someone else is taking the time to formulate another message to you. They are the match in the darkness. Wait for their message. It’s coming. This message is one that is a) supportive b) kind c) loving d) points out how you contribute goodness to the world & their life e) all of the above. 

If you’re someone who tends to send thunder thumbs or trigger finger volatile messages: STOP. Your words are harming another human being but they are mostly harming you. Anger & Hurt are blinding. When you regain your vision you may not have anyone around left to burn.

3. The middle path is the best path. When you find something that feeds your soul - this could be another person,  yoga, religion, church, philanthropy, knitting, reading, running, cross fit, food, sex, binge watching Netflix, house cleaning - pull back and find your centre. Anything you do that turns your life into a lop-sided lorry means you probably need to redistribute your load so you don’t cause a major accident. Get the balance right. 

4. Don’t gossip. I qualify this as talking about someone when they are not present and saying things you would never say if they were present. It will ruin more than your relationships - it will eat away at your health and rob you of miracles that are earmarked for you. Stop this one thing and watch your life profoundly change. 

Note: Pretending like you don’t do it doesn’t count. 

5. Have the courage to be authentic. Being fake is literally a waste of your life. Ask yourself: What could I be doing that is more truthfully me. You’ll become a game changer. And that is what you were put on the planet for. 

6. Be of service. If you can connect someone to help them get a job, meet someone they may fall in love with, offer advice that has been solicited, provide an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, directions, a lift, hand me down clothes, personal or household items you no longer need but they do - do it. Sharing expands the heart. The heart is your only indefatigable muscle. Think about it. It keeps beating even while you sleep.

Note: This doesn’t include being an accommodator whose available for things people can Google and don’t because they are lazy. 

7. Spend time in Nature. Don’t wait to go outside when the weather is nice. We go out in the world when we aren’t particularly nice but somehow punish Mother Nature by withholding ourselves from her until she gives us what we want. In that way - we are all bratty kids. Smarten up. Notice how every person who has blown your mind engages with Mother Nature regardless of what she’s giving us? Yeah - that’s not a coincidence.

8. Stand in the light of kindness. Even and especially with those who present themselves as adversaries and enemies. Be kind. It’s good for your health.

photo: taken by my father, David Kumar. August 1976 - sixth birthday party. 

NCR: Sima Says > Trend vs. Style

Trend: A general direction in which something is developing or changing

Style: A distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed  or Elegance and sophistication

both definitions via The Oxford English dictionary.

We’re well into summer in the northern hemisphere and undoubtedly the warmer temperatures mean a lot less clothing. Something about the sunshine and breezy summer air that makes us feel more adventurous. People jump off cliffs into pools of freezing cold water, go on nature adventures, book trips they usually save up all year for… 

The adventure continues when it comes to fashion. One go to trend is the denim short shorts. This year its back with a vengeance. Through my travels from point A to point B I see this look everywhere. I like this trend. It’s fun, there is something tough yet sexy about it - giving an air of ballsy broad to whoever is wearing it. Here’s the thing … and I’m sorry if I’m bursting your bubble - NOT EVERYONE WHO IS WEARING DENIM SHORT SHORTS SHOULD BE WEARING DENIM SHORT SHORTS! 

Just because something is a trend and you like it doesn’t mean it’s something that is going to look good on you. Here are my personal guidelines for this look. Firstly, this look is age specific. It looks best on teenagers and women in their twenties. Yes there are women in their early 40’s who can pull this off and they are called Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Aniston - perhaps living in Malibu gets you a pass - but once you’re into your 30’s trends are best evolved into personal style. The only person in my rule book exempt from this age cap for denim short shorts is Kate Moss. The second qualifier is… is your body in good shape to pull this look off? Be honest - and if you’re not capable of being honest call your most honest friend for a second opinion. Please do not mistake the honest friend to be the person who makes you feel the best about yourself - more often than not - this person is never housed in the same body. Here is the thing - with all the women’s empowerment and girl power going on in the world - which I’m a huge supporter of - doesn’t mean everything you wear will look good on you. It means we support the idea that you can wear whatever you want to without consequence. This post is about style not politics. Part of empowering your inner style icon is developing the skill of what suits your body type and what does not. This look is NOT flattering on all body types. If your crotch is eating up the fabric this look should be a pass. Now before you start writing me with protest comments - this is NOT about being skinny. It’s about being fit. There is a difference. If you’re confused - Google "Beyoncé denim shorts". Where does this style work best? -  at summer festivals - a place that requires comfort & durability. My last and important guideline - if your beautiful bum cheeks are peaking out to say Hello! - say goodbye to your denim short shorts.

Instead - think of harnessing the summer short shorts look with something a bit more stylish and with classic design. I’ve trolled through Pinterest and found examples which I’ve included in this post. Wearing shorts that fit well and suit your body and incorporating a look that is proportionate is the key to pulling this off. If you’re in the category of “crotch eats fabric” - a pair of shorts that is made with more tailoring and structure will be better suited to you. An easy way to achieve this is with a higher waisted look as shown above. Taking a more classic approach to pulling together outfits and pairing them with more refined fabrics and well chosen accessories is what can take the denim short from a trend into the land of personal style.

I once enjoyed wearing denim short shorts myself. I cut off my over-priced Big Star jeans in the Nineties and hit the streets with them cut off a little too frayed, a little too short and styled them with Doc Marten black boots and a plaid shirt and a perfectly placed slouchy knit touque on my head - we called it… Grunge. I was in my early twenties and was going to the Free Tibet and Lollapalooza concerts. Kurt Cobain was still alive. My point: this look has a time and place. Check your expiration date (usually achieved by looking at your backside & bare legs in a full length mirror) and enjoy your short and sassy summer! ~ Sima

compilation photos: via Pinterest

Photo of Kate Moss: via Mango campaign 

NCR: Sima Says >Happy Weekendering

Hurricanes couldn’t remove you from my mind. You’re my world and I’m incapable of not loving you. ~Billie-Jo Williams

NCR: Sima Says > Remembering a lady named Parvati

To me, my grandmother was and is always Nani. To her children she was Maiya, Ma or Amma. All variations of Mother. 

This photo was taken in Greenwich, London sometime in May or June of 1982. I was 11 about to turn 12. I’m pictured here with my Nani, my maternal grandmother. She was then and remains to this day my all time favourite person. She passed away on August 15, 1991. It was the first time in my life I felt drunk on grief.

I’m not sure how I came to be so attached to my Nani. There were years that my life felt dependent on my proximity to her - such was my attachment. What do I mean by this? I mean I would cry when she left my family home to go to another relatives home. My heart literally ached for her. She was the first person I experienced many of the feelings we do in relationship with another person. I was besotted with my Nani. I loved the way she looked with her long silver hair. I loved her scent -a mix of “old person” and something altogether more exotic. I loved the way she dressed - with eyelet embroidered blouses and an array of pastel coloured cardigans and long skirts. I loved the way she plaited her hair and rolled it up in a bun and tucked it up without ever using a pin. I loved the way she held her tea cup. I loved the way she let me stand on a chair next to her & Mummyji in the kitchen and make dahl. I loved the way she called out to my younger brother while standing in the doorway to his room each morning. I loved that she saw my specific type of crazy and accepted it. Most of all I loved the way my Nani loved. It was steady, quiet and felt complete and non-judgemental.

My mum told me it was my Nani who spotted my mole in the arch of my right foot at childhood and said that I would never be still in one place. That mole would give me itchy feet to go out in the world. That has been mostly true.

My Nani was the first person I experienced a wide range of emotions with: joy, infatuation, adoration, fascination, happiness, deep sorrow, sadness, heart ache. Put into an emotional tumble dryer this mix of emotions came out feeling warm. I called it: LOVE.  

She was a priority in my life. When I was 18 & 19 I told my then boyfriend that I would go to wherever she was each Sunday for dinner and our weekends had to accommodate that. I told the same boyfriend when we went travelling around the world that should my Nani fall ill while we were away for the year - I would return home. It was a non-negotiable.

When my Nani passed away it was a sunny day. I remember being attached to her body. When her coffin was being taken away for her to be cremated it is an understatement to say “I lost my shit”. Her funeral was on my 21st birthday. It was a profound coming of age.

Today - my Nani remains my greatest source of inspiration and the person whose personal traits and qualities I admire the most. If there is one way I could describe her it would be UNCONDITIONAL. In a world where we throw around the phrase “unconditional love” or “unconditional support” as if we have an idea of what we’re talking about - she truly was the only unconditional person I knew. I now wear two gold bangles on my right wrist that belonged to her. At my wedding I had a cotton hanky tucked into my bra that was once hers. I keep one of her cotton sari blouses in my wardrobe at all times. If I close my eyes and hold the blouse up to my nostrils and inhale deeply I can convince myself that I can smell her essence - even though the blouse was washed many times long ago. I still wear two necklaces she won at bingo games at the extended care hospital she was in. I smile like sharing a secret with a best friend when I receive a ridiculous amount of compliments on those two necklaces. It’s kind of an inside joke I have with her when people “ooooh! and aaaah!” and ask what European city market I found these vintage necklaces!  

When in times of conflict or confusion I meditate and find her crouched on large rock in a clearing in the forrest with one of her palms cupping the other - open, of course, just as she was - in the centre of her palm is an Om symbol. Every time I see this image during a meditation I feel an overwhelming sense of calm and ease. A warmth washes over me and I trust that we are souls & our bodies only temporary homes.

I grieved so intensely in the moment for my Nani after her death that I seldom feel the loss of her in my life. She’s in some way always there. It’s only in times that I spend with my nieces’ and nephews’ that I find myself wishing those kids knew her simply because she was so kind. And in the end, kindness is all that matters. ~ Sima

photo credit: Mrs. Sarla Shankar

NCR: Sima Says > Wife Life

INTERMARCHÉ > Inglorious Foods

I’ve noticed something very interesting - a lot of my fashion, film, music and advertising friends are becoming passionate about food. Myself included. I think this is an organic (no pun intended) evolution - food is creative! 

For me - the decision to marry The Italian has meant me returning to my hometown of Vancouver and being somewhat “grounded”. I am currently actively in the process of applying for an EEA Family Permit visa and a EU Residence card for the UK. So I’m going to be more of a local in BC as I get ready to forfeit my passport. A scary thought for a frequent flyer such as myself. Mummyji has joked that she never grounded me as a kid but now the process through the UK Home Office is grounding me!

Being grounded has led me to spend more time with family & close friends. Readers of this blog will know how close I am with Mummyji - she and I are close friends as well as Mother & Daughter. Mummyji is also a brilliant gardener - of flowers and food! As I spend more time with her at her home this summer I have marvelled at the joy of gardening! The flowers are sources of beauty and great pleasure. In full bloom they appear each morning on the patio & garden like well dressed friends ready to greet you to a day of unbridled possibility. The food is literally a source of nourishment. I have had the pleasure of eating the most delicious salads and bean curry dishes - all ingredients straight from Mummyji’s garden. What I love most is how much the food tastes like REAL FOOD! Watering the garden and helping her pick the produce and smell the dirt has sparked my senses in a brand new way. It’s exciting and of course I’m styling all the photos! 

What struck me most was how beautifully imperfect - or REAL - the food is. This got me doing some research as I am all about the European Union education these days. I found out Europe was taking a stand against food waste in 2014. A prominent supermarket called Intermaché in France is leading the way.

Much like in fashion - the food industry also has ridiculous standards of beauty. And if the food doesn’t meet that visual standard - it’s chucked out. Well… not anymore! This food has been given pride of place at Intermarché and I think this is definitely a New Culture Revolution! 

As I prepare to move to the UK to join The Italian, I hope UK supermarket giants such as Tesco, Waitrose and Co-Op also incorporate this system! What a brilliant idea! The more time I’m spending watching Mummyji grow her own food and share it with others - it’s really an incredible feeling to experience how being connected to where my food comes from and how it’s grown increases my consciousness about consumption & waste. I would suggest everyone place their knees on the ground and fingers in the dirt before the end of summer! ~ Sima

NCR: Sunday Soul > Rumi

Be with those who help your being. ~ Rumi

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