New Culture Revolution

New Culture Revolution is a blog co-created by stylist & yogi Sima Kumar and actor & producer Kristin Kreuk sharing about arts & culture, travel, beauty, fashion, health & wellness, literature & film.

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NCR: Tuesday Lessons > Two Worlds Collide

Learning how to live being heart-shaken and respectful while negotiating tidal waves of change. ~ Sima

…eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in…
And someone’s face, whom you love, will be as a star
Both intimate and ultimate, 
And you will be heart-shaken and respectful…”   ~ Mary Oliver

NCR: Music Monday > James Blake > Retrograde


You’re on your own
In a world you’ve grown
Few more years to go,
Don’t let the hurdle fall
So be the girl you loved,
Be the girl you loved

I’ll wait
So show me why you’re strong
Ignore everybody else,
We’re alone now
I’ll wait
So show me why you’re strong
Ignore everybody else,
We’re alone now

Suddenly, I’m hit
Is this darkness of the dawn?
And your friends are gone
And your friends won’t come
So show me where you fit
So show me where you fit

I’ll wait
So show me why you’re strong
Ignore everybody else,
We’re alone now (We’re alone now)
(We’re alone now)
I’ll wait (We’re alone now)
(We’re alone now)
(We’re alone now)
I’ll wait (We’re alone now)
(We’re alone now)
(We’re alone now)
(We’re alone now)
(We’re alone now)

Suddenly, I’m hit
Is this darkness of the dawn?
And your friends are gone
And your friends won’t come
So show me where you fit
So show me where you fit

contribution inspired by:  Carol Dey

NCR: Yoga > Hearts On Fire

We seem to be obsessed with killing each other. If you’re seeing this from your super comfortable life in a safe place take a moment to put out an intentional peaceful thought in the world. Wars aren’t other peoples problems. Each of us has a mini war raging within us right now in some way. Either with ourself or another person. It’s all the same. Take a moment to rebalance the insanity that seems to have reached a fever pitch and have a safe and loving weekend.

If you have love in your heart let it show.

Portrait by: Christian Schloe

NCR: International Affairs > There Is No Such Thing As A Marriage Of Convenience.

THE ANATOMY OF A WEDDING:

There’s nothing quite like deciding to marry and have a wedding (two very different yet obviously related decisions in my opinion) to test your personal strength and challenge how to uphold yourself while negotiating a lot of other people and various challenges, some of which you only find out along the way. 

When my husband, The Italian, proposed - I was not expecting it. In that moment I found out that my armpits and upper lip can produce sweat instantly. This was the third time in 16 years he had approached the subject. Twice before let’s just say the timing wasn’t right - for either of us. What was different this time? For me - I was ready. It’s the classic case of be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. After two weeks of intense discussion with Swami Santhi about marriage & spirituality & growth and the overwhelming responsibility of intertwining my life with another person - especially one who had in some way reserved a spot in his heart for me for sixteen years - I said yes!

Then I got busy planning a wedding. I knew two things - I didn’t want to have a long distance relationship - been there done that - ended in disaster - multiple times. I also didn’t see the point of two people who are let’s just say "Old and Older" to be engaged. What were we going to be “waiting” for? The Italian has been married before & I knew I was ready to get married now. So the Italian and I  skipped the engagement and decided to get married. Unconventional? Yes. Abnormal - not for me. I first shared with Mummyji & then everyone else who attended, then some family members & friends. I created my wedding & reception invitations while watching tv on my iPhone using Paperless Post. In classic me style, I worked right up until the friday before my monday wedding day and wrapped my job the day after. The night before I married I had a sleepover - my last one as a single girl - with my nieces. We frolicked in the hotel pool until half ten at night and made place cards & their bouquets well after midnight.

Swamiji consulted a Vedic astrologer in India with our birth dates, times and places & came back with some options of dates & time of day best for us to take the leap of faith called marriage. Once the date was decided it came down to pegging dreams against logistics. I would wake up some mornings panicked thinking “OMG! I’m getting married in 2 months, 1 month, 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 2 days!” while The Italian would whinge saying “Ugh, it feels like forever until we’re getting married!”

The first thing I decided to do was NOT announce my decision to marry. The second thing I did was NOT invite almost everyone. Family & friends included. I was never the girl who cut out pictures of wedding dresses, looked at bridal magazines or held on to a wedding as the big dream of my life. I always imagined it a very private & intimate event. The next thing I decided was to NOT get carried away. This must be a conscious decision because getting carried away is easy to do. I wore shoes from a job I did that were worn for 5 hours. I found my dress while pulling wardrobe for a photo shoot. I picked my own wedding ring because I’m the one who has to wear it and like it - everyday. My wedding planner & partner in crime was Mummyji. That was it. I told everyone who was invited they could wear whatever they liked. I asked Darian to take the photos because I felt comfortable with him witnessing something very intimate & he was open to collaborating on my idea for wedding photos. I had a friend of a friend bake my cake. Madeleine, a long time friend of mine & my family organized the venue. I found out as soon as you say the word “wedding” in front of a cake request you should add one more digit. I didn’t and paid $45 dollars for a cake so delicious I still dream about it and want to order it again so I can have another piece! I was gifted my bouquet from a former neighbour in the last building I lived in Vancouver & let my nieces’ pick flowers they liked for their bouquets and wanted to carry. Two dear friends, Angela & Zabrina were my beauty brigade. My make up inspiration was focussed on a dramatic eyeliner lick that was reminiscent of a young Sophia Loren and the hair brief was “the morning after the night before.” I married wearing sky high heels, extra long & rounded aubergine nails and a light pink lace dress while my friend Marnie Herald sang acapella a song called Sweet Baby. (I’ve included a You Tube link to her performing it with Buck 65 below).

It was all very…easy. 

My first wish was to get married in London at The Marylebone registry office in Westminster. It’s been the home of some famous rock n’ roll couplings and I’m a bit of a seasoned rock widow so it appealed to me. It also matched my Sex and the City “Big & Carrie” understated wedding dream. Low key & grown up. We would have to give a notice of intention and leave it up for display for 15-21 days. I would have to pay £601 for a fiancé visa and fly to London. It was the cost of the fiancé visa that dissuaded me from this option. It was a lot of money to spend on a visa that would last a short amount of time and restricted me from any kind of employment. The practical side of it was I had work booked in North America and the dates & location would be conflicting. London was out.

We looked into getting married in Italy.This meant The Italian taking out a notice (read: Billboard) in his village and leaving it up for a min. of 30 days in a visible spot so anyone who took issue with the marriage could contest it. I found myself imagining a bitter & burned crush from when The Italian was 5 years old turning up and thwarting the whole thing. No way. He is Italian after all. Too risky. Italy was out.

I briefly considered Paris only to find out we would have to stay in France for 40 days prior to our wedding to establish residency before any kind of marriage would be recognized as legal. Neither of us had time for that and I would be one tubby bride after all that bread, cheese & pastries. Paris was out.

The Italian suggested Vegas - too tacky. Not even an option. Vegas was never in to be out.

This brought me back home - to Vancouver. We had decided that I would be the one to move to the UK because I’m a freelancer whereas The Italian is employed full-time and he would never have the same kind of opportunity for work in Canada. It made sense if I was the one to move away then I would like my family to be present and it was unrealistic for them to fly abroad. They were the most important factor at this point. Also, my nieces had waited for years to be bridesmaids. I made my elder niece Yasmeen my maid of honour and younger niece, Aaliyah a bridesmaid. That was the extent of my wedding party. The Italian booked his flight and I booked everything else and & the ball was rolling. 

I held on to the Big & Carrie dream and went to Vancouver City Hall with Mummyji to query booking my wedding only to find out there is no room allocated for weddings there. Who knew? My second dream wedding was the romantic & rustic chapel wedding of JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette (above). So I looked into The Minoru Chapel in Richmond (pictured above). Tucked away from the hustle & bustle of a mini Hong Kong it seemed perfect. I explored it a couple of years earlier on a staycation with Mummyji. To my disappointment it was only available via The Chapel Group and I had to choose a package. I don’t take package vacations so there was no way I was opting for a package wedding.

In the end, I married at a venue I’m both very familiar & have a lot of history with. The same went for where we had our reception luncheon. I married on a Monday morning. The date & time options set in India. I opted for monday thinking most people I knew were going to work meetings - I too was going to a very important work meeting. A meeting that would change the rest of my life. I walked myself down a non-existent aisle and presented myself to The Italian. I don’t believe I belong to anyone so I chose not to be given away. Both my parents spoke before the ceremony started & each lit a candle held up by weary angels covered in gold leaf with the intention to give their blessing for our union & set it alight with a flame that would burn eternally. No family is perfect, including mine. But I felt it important to honour both my parents equally in some way - not as a dreamy young bride - which I am not. But as a mature, grounded well storied woman. They did, after all create me. My father chose (unbeknownst to me) to read one of my favourite writings on marriage by Khalil Gibran which I’ve included in this post.

The photo above shows me right after our lively officiant pronounced us married. I feigned fainting and declared to our guests that I needed to take a nap to recover from the shock of what I had just done. Those who know me well know that taking a nap is my way of dealing with life when reality overwhelms me. Needless to say … I didn’t take a nap. I proceeded to creative direct my wedding photos before heading to lunch with my family & a group of close friends. We ate, we laughed, we cried. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping. It was a beautiful day.

Best of all - Yasmeen & Aaliyah have decided that even though I’m now married, I can still sit with them! ~ Sima

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxem48x1ios

Wedding Photos (b&w + colour) : by Darian Wong  creative direction: me

All other images: Found via the interweb

NCR: Every Summer Has A Story

What’s the story of your summer? What does summer mean to you? I know not all readers of the blog are in summer - but most of us do get to experience and enjoy a summer at some point.

For me there is something about the energy from the sun that provides me with an added boost. I feel I can take more risks, have more fun, be more adventurous. The longer days and shorter nights are energizing and inspiring. ~ Sima

NCR: Sima Says > C A T H A R S I S 

Well goodness me it has been a long while since I’ve posted something that comes from the core of my being. To everyone who follows this blog & always steadily supports… thank you for your patience. 

It’s been an interesting time. Lots of changes. I can imagine they happened quickly but really - the process started last summer. I entered a period of confusion & chaos that made me really sit up and look at who I was spending my time with and why. Bumps in the road of relationships can be golden nuggets that tumble us towards growth. Sometimes that process of alchemy can feel more like being burned alive than the possibility of pure gold. 

For me - I started making changes. In most but not all areas. Some changes simply evolved. Not all were welcome or comfortable. I began to take stock of my life and had multiple “WTF have I been doing?!!!” moments. I pegged those against the question “What do I really want?” 

Jeanette Winterson writes “what you risk reveals what you value.” This quote always resonated in me, yet I found myself risking nothing. In yoga - as Swami Santhi taught me - it is best to take on little manageable changes. Overwhelming ourselves into change doesn’t yield great results. I suppose in a way this happened. There was a people shuffle, work shuffle, home shuffle and relationship shuffle. The last one being the biggest shuffle of my adult life. I got married!

My husband, The Italian, is someone I’ve known for 16 years. I always felt disconnected from that mythical fact “you’ve probably already met the person you’re going to marry.” But in my case, it turned out to be true!

I’ll share more about my marriage here on the blog. How I came to the decision to marry The Italian (Swami Santhi was heavily involved in helping me through this) and negotiating moving my whole life to Europe. I’ll share my adventures and process on immigration (reading the 17 page immigration form is intimidating to say the least!) in a new segment here on the blog called International Affairs: There Is No Such Thing As A Marriage Of Convenience. Love is a matter of the heart. Immigrating across international borders is not. It’s all about facts.

It’s a whole new era for me. In an “insta world” I have an “insta family”. They have been warm & inviting and I’m looking forward to learning to speak Italian. Perhaps my former imaginary movie star boyfriend, Colin Firth can give me some tips on this. He apparently learned the language to woo his wife Livia. I’ll be learning it for more practical reasons - to be able to communicate with my mother-in-law. I’ll share my personal process leading up to my wedding along with a few photos. I’ll be joining The Italian in the UK where we will live with some time spent at his family home in Campagna, Italy. The blog will take on a more European flavour. The Canadian contributors aren’t going anywhere though. Ginny will still be sharing her love of books, Tori will be offering advice on getting you “juice drunk” regardless of where you live, Darian will be providing photos (he took my wedding photos) and new contributors will be popping up. Kristin will still contribute whenever she comes across something she feels inspired to share.

The only constant in life is change. The biggest change in my life is the chaos in my heart has settled flat. Just like the R. M Drake quote I shared in this post. This doesn’t mean chaos will never be again. I married an Italian and I myself am a feisty Island girl! There will be chaos! It simply means right now, there is a sense of calm. Which is kind of crazy since everything that is before me is an unknown. I attribute this to the feeling of acceptance. With it comes a great peace. I hope wherever you are, life is peaceful, sweet and you are feeling loved. ~ Sima

NCR: The Great Mother

Celebrate. Every woman. ~ Sima

NCR: F. Scott Fitzgerald > Quote of the Day

NCR: Tribute > Maya Angelou x Dave Chapelle

In the early morning hours yesterday, an iconic humanitarian passed away. Maya Angelou lived a well storied and disciplined life. Here is part 2 of 4 videos where she spent a day with comedian Dave Chapelle. I chose this particular one to post for one of many heavy hitting truth bombs she drops “you develop courage, the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” 

Below is the link to  access all 4 parts of their time together. Dave Chapelle also shares some hard hitting truths about the trappings of celebrity and how sometimes getting the thing you thought you wanted isn’t what you wanted at all. Enjoy! ~ Sima

http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2014/05/video_maya_ange.html

NCR: Fashion Friday > (Mis)adventures in Dress shopping.

From my days of being a beach bum kid walking her toy dog on the shores of Fiji waiting to grow into my Disney Dumbo ears to a paper thin cotton baby doll dress I still recall to this day from the 90’s (no picture evidence - sorry!) -  I have had a long love affair with Little White Dresses. Looking back now it’s shocking to think I rebelled against wearing a white dress to my first communion. Much to my father’s dismay I opted for red tights and a blue & white checked pinafore. In a row of dangling legs wearing pristine white socks & white tights … there was me … in red. This explains much of my life for those who know me well & for a long time. My fate was sealed right then & there one could say!

Church life aside here is ample evidence of me living in Fiji doing whatever it is you do while being a little kid in Fiji in the 1970’s. Hanging out with my brother on the beach, casually propped up on the hood of a car with my dad holding me in place alongside my brother, posing for photos at what looks to be a studio (notice the look on my brother Ray’s face - almost saying “uhm… she’s not wearing any pants!”).

My grunge era dress I remember so well. I was rail thin (probably too thin when I think back) and it felt like wearing a spring breeze. It was one of those dresses when I think back to wearing it I recall how I felt! I wonder if it’s like this for brides and perhaps that is why they are so attached to their wedding dresses? It was 1993 and I wore my dress to my then boyfriend’s band sold out rock concert. It was a blazing  hot summer and we were in the height of the grunge era. I decided for once to come out of the shadows of back stage & the protective compound of the sound engineer’s booth and declare that I wanted to be front and centre to enjoy the mayhem. Aware that I was inappropriately dressed - the rockstar boyfriend allocated me my own bouncer - aptly named “Big Dave”. I screamed & swooned like the rest of the hard core groupies and me and my baby doll dress survived in tact. There was no moshing  permitted near my Moschino. Girlfriend status has different privileges than Groupie status.

Fast forward to today. On my way home from lunch I stopped in at a local vintage & consignment store called Community. I am finding myself on the hunt for a lovely white dress for summer. I spy this lace number & somehow estimate it will be “just a little above my knees”. I am after all, only 5’1” tall. No halves or three - quarters. Just a solid 5’1” that I hold on to with the help of pilates. 

I snapped a photo &  shared my find with my vintage loving songstress friend, Marnie Herald. Once home I tried on my new purchase to find it … well… very short. Inappropriately short even! The only place this dress can be worn is on a sunny holiday - perhaps to Greece. These photos were snapped & now being shared at the hilarity of my error in judgment. At the end of the day - I had to laugh and remind myself of what Swami Santhi would say “What to do?” The upside to this little wardrobe malfunction tale - I’m obviously NOT as short as I imagine myself to be! Here is to warmer days & white hot dresses! ~ Sima

File Under: The more things change the more they stay the same.

NCR: Yoga > Monday Mantra > Soham or Hamsa (I am)

The mantra of soham or hamsa means I am. My individual self is the same as my Universal self. There is no differentiation. So if you are the universe and I am the universe why are we all so petrified of being rejected? What I do to you I do to me. How I love you is how I love me. How I harm you is how I harm me.

What is your relationship with rejection? How does it impact your life? I know for artists - especially actors - rejection is part of the process. Auditions are a direct experience of this. I’m not an actor so I can’t speak to this. But what I can share how I sit in on auditions with producers & directors. An actor walks in to deliver lines to sell a product and before they have hit their mark to begin, they are out of the running. Why? Because I’ve been hired to “keep it real”. What does this mean? It means if a girl walks in and she’s been a model and is too pretty then she won’t get the job. She’s not “real” enough. People don’t want to be sold shower gel from someone “too pretty”. She’s been rejected before she began. Or, she began from the moment she walked in. Nothing personal - yet so many of us take it … well… personally!

We all experience rejection. I’ve experienced it in love in the form of wanting to be with someone who chose not to be with me. Friendship - offering my style of friendship to someone who didn’t want that style of friendship. Work - applying for jobs that went to other people. Rejection is everywhere. In fact it happens on a daily basis. 

I love the above quote. Is there anything more intimate & intense than showing someone the sun in your bones and them rejecting you? Has this ever happened to you? It has to me. What do we make rejection mean about ourself? I used to make it mean I wasn’t good enough. Now I see it as as a friend. A really good friend that shows me the truth of how to align with people who are part of my tribe and live in the way I live & those who are lovely but live in a very different way. I also make it mean that I’m pretty rad for having the guts to expose the truth of me to another human being. Once I release my expectation to be accepted - and only exposing parts of me if they were guaranteed to be accepted (I understand the impossibility of this and understand such a formula doesn’t exist but you have no idea how much it makes sense in my head sometimes!!!) - I am free to be me.

How does this happen? Some people say “it’s because you’re older”. This makes sense only if you’re younger and personally I don’t believe age has anything to do with it. I have many friends in their late 30’s and early to mid 40’s who are still tortured by rejection. It happens by choosing reality. Reality is where the magic happens. It’s where experience integrates into something  beautiful: acceptance & wisdom. If I keep running from any person or situation or opportunity because he or she or it may lead to rejection I am literally choosing to be a prisoner in my own life. Set yourself free. Fly. You may be wobbly you may crash - often. But fly. It’s worth it. ~ Sima

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” ~ Rumi.

NCR: QUOTE OF THE DAY

Mantra for the week is to STAY ON TRACK.


Print Your Own Makeup With Mink

NCR: Technology > 3D Makeup Printer

A little while ago I posted about a 3D printer that could (sort of) make food. My pen to paper brain has a difficult time wrapping the logic and logistics around 3D printers. I think a visit to Harvard or MIT will need to include a show and tell for me to understand this in a more integrated way. Here - Grace Choi has invented a 3D printer for makeup. This one invention could turn the beauty industry on it’s head. The future is mind boggling.  As I want to return to a simpler existence of growing my own food, taking walks in the English countryside and have face to face conversations in pubs vs. FaceTime conversations while sitting in my home with someone 30 minutes or 30 hours away - I love technology and am fascinated by it. Grace Choi is sarcastic, dry and brilliant. I can only imagine she’s going to be headed hunted by Estée Lauder or another major beauty supplier. I like to imagine if Steve Jobs were alive he would scoop her up to create a brand of Apple Cosmetics. Can you imagine the product design on that??? I’d buy it!  Beauty beware - there is a new girl in town. Her name is Grace. ~ Sima

Is the $55 billion dollar makeup industry about to be taken down by a Harvard Business student? According to Business Insider, Grace Choi has developed an at-home 3D makeup printer which has the capability to print out eye shadow, blush and lip colors in the same FDA-approved ink used by makeup companies. The outspoken Choi’s research was based around one principle: color, “The makeup industry…charges a huge premium on something that tech provides for free.” The beauty printer, Mink, has the ability to copy the color codes and exact hues used by all beauty brands. Mink is set to retail for $300 and has the ability to hook up to any computer, just like a normal printer. Watch to see how Choi’s makeup printing machine works and how it will change the makeup industry forever. (via Lauren Fisher for Harpers Bazaar)

NCR: Audrey Hepburn > What Would Audrey Do?

May 4,1929 was the day Audrey Hepburn was born. She would have been 85 years old. She was born in Brussels, lived in London before moving to Hollywood to become the iconic film star we know her to be. Initially a dancer then actress and lastly a humanitarian, her legacy lives on. Rarely has an actress continued to be so present day relevant as Audrey Hepburn is. Her onscreen style choices still dictate the fashion industry. Everything from lace eye coverings to hats, pearls and the LBD. And what is now the norm for actors to align with humanitarian efforts, it was Audrey Hepburn who was a pioneer for this movement.

On the eve of the annual Met Ball where actresses are paired with designers, it was Hubert de Givenchy that Audrey Hepburn developed a lifelong relationship with. Above is a sketch and the actual costume of one of his designs for her from Paris When It Sizzles. Of course we all know of the image from Breakfast At Tiffany’s. She didn’t flip flop when it came to style, instead opting to build and evolve with one designer. Near the end of her life when she was diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer and too weak to fly back to Switzerland, it was her friend Givenchy who arranged for a private jet via “Bunny”Mellon to take her back home to Geneva to be with her family, where she passed away on June 20, 1993 at home.

I recall where I was and what was happening in my life that day. It was a friend’s birthday and I was somehow tasked with arranging the large dinner party for family & friends at an Italian restaurant. It was the spirit of Audrey Hepburn that influenced my choice in his birthday gift. The thought “What Would Audrey Do?” (now a book!). I decided on a vintage pocket watch.

One question I am always asked is “whose your favourite celebrity?” I don’t have one. After years of working with celebrities I realised they are only such when it comes to other - the public or their fans in extreme settings. Otherwise they are … like the rest of us - human. But if I had to go for an extended lunch with a celebrity I admired on multiple levels, Audrey Hepburn would top that list. She seemed to be comfortable as a flawed human, sharing of herself with grace and seemingly negotiated the ups and downs of stardom with an elegance and humanity that is rare these days. Her beauty seemed to literally shine from the inside out of her face. She was also, like me, an introvert.

Beyond her mind blowing & awe inspiring style choices and quirky roles in Charade, Sabrina and My Fair Lady, it was her work as a global ambassador to UNICEF that had the most impact on me. Seeing photos of her with children and the way a woman with a traumatic childhood of her own could commit to helping young people in countries ravaged by famine and war is how I ultimately remember her, not standing in the window of Tiffany’s the morning after the night before. She was one of those rare stars that we got to see age, naturally & gracefully. 

The Guardian wrote a wonderful article about her today and here is the link. I hope you enjoy! ~ Sima

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/may/04/audrey-hepburn-google-doodle-85th-birthday?CMP=twt_fd

photos: found via the web

NCR: YOGUE > Vrksasana > Tree Pose

My love of fashion has long embraced my passion for yoga. In fact, many modelling poses are a play on yoga postures. No one did it better than iconic model Veruschka, a german model, actress & artist born in 1939 in what is now known as Russia. Here she is in Hawaii in 1965 in tree pose in a photo taken by legendary photographer Horst P. Horst.

This is a excellent pose to stretch the body (especially the calves, thighs, groin and spine) and to increase balance. I always love to teach this pose because I myself have balance issues. It’s wonderful to see toddlers and young children play with this pose, It comes naturally to them and they are so limber. It’s also a really good posture to practice as we get older and balance becomes an issue. One can simply hold on to a chair or practice against the wall. In yoga there is no “doing yoga” there is only “practising yoga”. In that spirit we all have a “perfect practice”.  Try it out and watch how quickly you’ll be able to in the words of one of my favourite Depeche Mode songs “get the balance right”. ~ Sima

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