New Culture Revolution

New Culture Revolution is an online blog co-created by stylist Sima Kumar & actor Kristin Kreuk sharing our love of arts & culture, travel, beauty, fashion, health & wellness, literature & film.

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NCR: Gabriel Garćia Márquez > R I P

I remember the day my mum & dad took my two brothers’ and I to the library to get our library cards. It was such an amazing feeling. I felt - liberated. The idea that I could be given  a card to sign that would allow me to stroll up and down aisles filled with stories of people and lands far away and from another time was mind blowing to me. All of a sudden life was filled with unlimited possibilities. 

I was a very shy kid. Always good at conversation but inside me I was shy (later to find out through lots of Meyers Briggs test I am a rare introvert - FYI - so is Kristin, in fact we are the same category of introvert - but that’s not what this post is about). This post is about how in 1977 I got my first library card and I couldn’t wait to get home to sit under the cherry tree in our back yard and crack open the spine of a book I had picked to read. I love the smell of books. They all seem to have that same smell - until I’m done with it… then the scent changes. It goes from everyone else to mine. All my shyness disappeared as I became immersed in the stories I was reading. The characters became my friends and family and I had a say in what was going on. Reading enabled me to feel many different feelings in  a way that was safe and intimate. I could experience joy, adventure, sadness, heart break, loss, triumph. Reading to me was a portal into a greater experience of myself, one with no risk of rejection. I read - a lot.

Fast forward a whole bunch of years to when I discover Nobel prize-winning Columbian author Gabriel Garćia Márquez. I recall reading One Hundred Years of Solitude and being entirely wrapped up in this multi-generational family. Their struggles became my struggles. Their joys & sorrows were my joys and sorrows. One of my favourite quotes from the book remains with me to this day - one I draw on in trying times with myself or others “There is always something left to love.” How true is that?

Then came the more renowned Love In The Time of Cholera. This is a love story based on communicating through letters and telegraph. Old world romantic stuff that always reels me in and swallows me whole. It is also a love triangle - something I’m all too familiar with. Most of all it is a story that remains hopeful. Hopeful that it’s never too late to be with the one you love. A favourite line full of adventure and risk: ”Tell him yes. Even if you are dying of fear, even if you are sorry later, because whatever you do, you will be sorry all the rest of your life if you say no.”  

What lengths we will go to for love! 

Today Gabriel Garćia Márquez died at the age of 87. But his beautiful stories will live on. ~ Sima

NCR: Tycho > Dive (Full Album)

Mid-week mellow with this album which has been on heavy rotation while I travel about here & there lately.

I like the lack of lyrics. As I see the world and myself in it with a different lense, many of the songs I LOVED no longer make sense to me. The lyrics are all damaging examples of love which served me well when I was practically a professional sufferer. Having moved on from that (keep in mind this is a work in progress), I enjoy sounds. Something I can spill my own narrative & visuals onto allowing space for me to create. I hope you enjoy. ~ Sima

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6ih1aKeETk

NCR: Never Say Never > The rise of the Birkenstock

Fashion trends are like family. In the way they both seem to have the motto “never say never”. Such is the case with Birkenstock shoes. Enjoying a renaissance of sorts this eponymous label has seen it’s fair share of knock offs from runway to reality.  First seen at Celine, which is always ahead of the pack when it comes to setting new trends with Phoebe Philo at the helm, these earthy shoes made their runway debut in 2013. Now everyone from Giambatitsta Valli, Zara to Top Shop has offered the classic Arizona style of this shoe for Spring/Summer 2014. 

Hailing from Germany as far back as 1744 I first came to know of Birkenstocks while I was 19 travelling around the world with an adventurous boyfriend. From New Zealand to Australia to South East Asia to India to Europe I noticed one kind of person was wearing these shoes: hippies. Not the Woodstock peace love and marijuana variety of hippie, which to me had an air of rock n’ roll cool, but more the ‘don’t panic it’s organic’ hairy legs, hairy arm pits and not a sketch of makeup variety. Right then and there I vowed never to wear these shoes: EVER.

And as often is the case with vows - I broke mine.

For about 5 years I’ve been secretly seeing my boyfriend, Birkenstock. Only stepping out with him while travelling or running errands or “out for a walk”. Much like secret love affairs, he wasn’t the one I was “seen” with but he was the one who has my heart. I have a brown pair and the classic black Arizona’s which are now very much in vogue. What happens in the world of trends that takes us from “never!" to "now!”? Well… for me … I grew up. I lost much of what I was shallow about (including worshipping at the alter of  high heels) and surrendered to the God called comfort (whose last name could be ‘common sense’). Personally I’m glad my segue from Sigerson Morrison back to Birkenstocks happened later in life. I wouldn’t give up days of hustling in the world of fashion and  nights of mischief making in sky high Prada’s and Manolos in London & New York for anything. These are some of the sweetest memories of my life… walking back to my flat in Manhattan at 4am with my girlfriends while the city still swelters from unbearable heat below our feet, wearing a slip dress, barely there sheer something in vintage and heels worth a month of rent. It was the kind of dreamy living that launched Sex and the City and dozens of other chick flicks!

As I’ve grown older and more (ahem!) practical, I love the idea of a uniform. Personally I have two and they are extreme opposites: tailored sportswear (think Phoebe Philo) with limited edition Nikes or Birkenstocks and Indian cotton dresses (think Sienna Miller). This is why the Arizona is enjoying a fashion moment. Once I erase the hippie visuals from my backpacking days and implement my love of great design, minimalism and comfort, what surfaces is the Arizona. When it comes to Birkenstocks the any luxury fashion or high street knock off basic black is the way to go. If you buy the original it’s very common to size down and go for the ‘N” fit for narrow as they fit large & wide (sounds appealing doesn’t it?). Keep it simple so you can wear with as many different outfits as possible. White is always a nice alternative for summer if you in a perpetually sunny climate. The comfort factor is unbeatable. But now that you have shoes that will last you years vs. a season, head over to the salon & get your toes painted all sorts of pretty! Other styles that get the Sima Says seal of approval are the Gizeh and the Madrid. And honestly, if its good enough for Grace (Coddington, pictured above) it’s good enough for me. ~ Sima

All photos: found via web.

Links:

http://www.birkenstock.com/

http://www.topshop.com/en/tsuk/product/shoes-430/flats-459/fang-double-buckle-flatforms-2837728?bi=1&ps=20

NCR: YOGUE (yoga + style) > dancers pose (natarajasana)

One of my favourite aspects of fashion is how a variation of a yoga pose is used. Here is dancers pose. The name comes from the Sanskrit words nata meaning “dancer”, raja meaning “king” and asana meaning “posture”. Nataraja is one of the names given to the Hindu God Shiva in his form as the cosmic dancer.
As a certified yoga teacher I don’t recommend high heels + yoga. This post is more about sharing how you don’t have to choose one over the other. Everyone can be a styling yogi or yogini.
I’ve long believed the way we dress and express ourselves in the world is NOT shallow but rather a beautiful representation of our inner world.
Have fun and get your YOGUE on.

NCR: Health & Wellness > Tori Holmes co-founder Nectar Juicery

Sima has invited me to NCR, allowing me to share my message and inspire intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is learning to listen to the symptoms of your body like it’s your own personal healer. Nutrition is the middle-man between yourself and your doctor. By making the shift to listening to your internal self & inner cues, you can solidify what you already know. There is nothing more empowering than feeling alive and I encourage you to give this gift to yourself; hold the keys to your own health.  

The first step is to pay attention and relearn the basics of the body. When you understand the “why”, the chatter and health claims about detoxing, diets or super foods will be easier to understand, helping you to make decisions that work for your body. It does not have to be hard or overwhelming to obtain body wisdom, great health and vitality. 

Each week I will provide you with one simple science download or tip that will help you translate into living your best life. It is the subtle changes we make in life that create radical changes.

As an owner of a cold-pressed juice company (Nectar), I feel that it’s necessary to start with a topic that I’m passionate about, detoxification (detox). Every magazine today includes various cleanses or detox methods, promising to clean your body with a certain product. I thought to share the why and how behind the word detox.

The first thing you need to know is that your body is naturally detoxing all the time. The body is either in a state of digestion or detoxification, never both at the same time. When you are eating you are digesting and when you are not eating you are detoxing – simple. 

The function of digestion is your body breaking down the foods you consume while extracting vitamins, enzymes and minerals needed to support the body. If digestion was on the payroll and it only had one role, it would be to pull the nutrients out of the food and into your body. Why do we need these nutrients? Vitamins, minerals and enzymes are the fuel and energy needed to support your body as it renews, regenerates and cleanses itself. Think of the vitamins as the gas in your car; when there is a full tank you move harder, faster and stronger. The vitamins help to support your body as it cleans each organ because the detoxification process requires a lot of energy.   

Three takeaways:

1. The body naturally detoxes all the time.

2. Digestion and detoxing are opposite cycles.

3. Vegetables and fruit support detoxification because they provide the nutrients needed to support the body’s natural detoxification process. 

photo credits: Tori Holmes by Paul Melo http://stylequotient.com/

Nectar Juice by Candace Meyer http://www.candacemeyer.com/

fruit & illustration: found via the interweb

links: http://www.nectarjuicery.com/ 

https://www.facebook.com/Nectarjuicery?fref=ts

NCR: Poetry > by Swami Santhi

A Bodhi tree bereft of roots

Spreading shoots unseen
Piercing down the sky, hanging, 
Witnessing bubbles chancing

Wild winds carry no more blow
Bubbles wait to free their show 
Where are all those cyclones?
Where are all those tornadoes? 

Oh! Bubbles though you reflect beauty 
Shine in million folds,
You are Ignorance puffed up,
Glowing transience at stake with fear

A mere blow may liberate pain
Of the primordial fear of becoming nothing
To become the one who was awaited
For Budha was never born or dead

NCR: Saturday Wisdom > Stillness Speaks

Peace within. Peace without. Make frequent stops at meditation station.

A few quiet days after a busy week of short but intense travel for work. It sometimes feels like what I imagine driving a recalcitrant army issue land rover would be. That jerking stop start motion of trying to negotiate unfamiliar terrain.

I had the recognition this week that the journey should be as pleasant as I imagine the destination to be. A new friend, Anil, recently said these words while telling a formidable story "do it as you intend it to be!" I realized it’s up to me to make it so. To ask for what I want instead of taking on more of what I don’t want. What is pleasant to me? Working with humility & grace with a major dose of fun. Working alongside people I like & admire and can consistently build a bond of trust.  A team I can both lead & learn from. To be a student - always. Are “AMAZING OPPORTUNITIES” really that amazing if they don’t align with my values & support me in building community from a place of loving kindness vs. popular culture and personal popularity?

Celebrity culture is out of control in many areas of life. I see this from my career in the fashion & entertainment industry to philanthropy & activism to street style to Instagram & Twitter feeds. There is an element of this current trend that breeds ego which really does kill talent. When people are striving to be famous to feed an inner deficiency instead of ambassadors of love, kindness & happiness, art, culture, humanitarian issues and wellness working to illuminate a path that is a healthier option for peace & happiness. More & more I see how almost everything is a distraction from keeping us from our essence. Which for me is L O V E. All the games we play - this is NOT progress. It is a distraction and we are asleep at the wheel of life. My goal is to wake up. Not to check into a “better” hotel & fall asleep in a different bed thinking I’ve evolved. Not to ride around in flashier cars with more gadgets wearing the it  bag, hat, coat, dress, shoe … thinking I’ve earned these upgrades because I’m “better than”. All of life is a breath - and as Swamij Santhi taught me - between these breaths there is a gap “slip into the gap”. That is the place of peace. What would happen if we simply stopped? And went inside? All the answers are within you. I truly believe this. All we have to do is commit to being fearless explorers and …  mind the gap. ~ Sima

NCR > Nearly 20 Questions with dancer/choreographer Crystal Pite

Words are metaphors for rich sensory experiences. Each word is filled with a lifetime of experience and association. Our ability to articulate with nuance and grace the deepest of our selves with words is limited to the language we speak and share with others, the vocabulary we have been able to integrate, our nimbleness with those tools and how honestly we have marinated in our histories. When all of these things are in place, the potential for being shaken by the truth of the collective human experience is propitious.

For me though, the moments of greatest revelation have come through witnessing the vocabulary of the body; feeling in the way a body collapses into itself or seems to be in conflict with itself my own grief or turmoil or joy. Crystal Pite is a master at creating choreography that is surprising, exciting, raw and affectingly honest. She combines text and movement poetically and articulately. Her work seems to masterfully convey the profundity of the human struggle. It is awesome. In the truest sense of that word.

Here is a little info on her:

  • Former company member of Ballet British Columbia and William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt.
  • She has created over 40 works since her 1990 choreographic debut.
  • She formed Kidd Pivot in 2002 in Vancouver.
  • She is the recipient of many awards, most recently the 2011 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, the inaugural Lola Award in 2012, and the Canada Council’s 2012 Jacqueline Lemieux Prize.
  • Kidd Pivot is currently touring “The Tempest Replica” in England, the USA and across Canada. For details please check out http://www.kiddpivot.org/upcoming-tours/

~Kristin

New Culture Revolution: How old were you when you knew you wanted to become a dancer?

Crystal Pite: I have always danced since toddlerhood~ I don’t even know when it started. But I have always danced. There wasn’t a defining moment when I knew, it evolved naturally over time. Dance is always what I have done. It must have been around eight or nine or ten when I understood that this was something I could do as a job, but I was always on track for that.

NCR: What was the first dance performance you saw that moved you? How old were you? Where was it?

CP: Every year in my dance school we would compete and I would see some of the older girls do their dances and I remember being really moved by that; how good they were, and how beautiful and how much they knew and I remember being really touched by the way they would dance. I think it was just something that was always out up ahead of me, something to aspire to.

Then I would have been 16 when I first saw the work of William Forsythe. Ballet British Columbia had a piece of his in their repertoire called “Love Songs” and I remember being blown away by that piece. And later, work by Jiri Kylian was really moving and inspiring and changed the way I thought about what dance could be. I started to understand more about contemporary dance because, as a kid growing up, I don’t think we ever really understood what contemporary dance was. I mean, at the time, we would have been calling it modern dance and in my little ballet school we would have thought that modern dance was what you did if you couldn’t succeed in ballet. We had no idea what it actually was or what it could be as a life or as a career. These works would come into my life early on and I would realize, oh there’s more to dance than a Broadway musical or a big story ballet.

NCR: How would you describe your process as a choreographer?

CP: My process differs from project to project. If it’s a commission there are always a series of limitations and possibilities that I respond to. For example: Can I work with a live orchestra? Can I make something for all the dancers in the company? Can I create a piece that is between twenty and thirty minutes? Can you do this within this budget? That can give me a direction. Also other work the company has done, that may be something I want to push against to try to do something other than what they’ve been doing lately.

If I have carte blanche to start from scratch, work on my own company for example, then I start with content. I start with a subject that is interesting to me, something I can really sink my teeth into, that I can learn something from.

Particularly with my own company I have noticed that whatever I choose to work with we end up living with that for five years or more; there is research, creation, the performances, there’s the remount, the touring, the more touring, the more remounting. These works, they live with us, become part of our family and we live with them for years. Now that I understand that, twelve years into having a company, I am very careful about what I choose to work with. I need to choose higher themes that really resonate, themes I can commit to for many years.

NCR: What is “The Tempest Replica”? Why did you want to make “The Tempest Replica”?

CP: I chose The Tempest because it was a story, a human story, I could really connect to and live with for a long time. Those themes were going to be running through my life forever.

At the front of the process I set out to challenge myself to working with an existing script, I had been working with narrative and with little fragments of story and my own text in my work but I had never actually worked with a whole existing script. It was then about finding the right script and I hadn’t intended on using Shakespeare. I was reading a book by Peter Brook about theater making and he was talking about his own 1968 production of The Tempest and he was using that as an example as a way to illustrate some things about creative process. He was talking about the shipwreck and how every director that works with that play has to make a decision about how much time and money they are going to spend on it because there is only one scene in the play there and the rest takes place on an island. I got about as far as the word shipwreck and I was caught. I thought, oh I want to make a shipwreck. I want to make a shipwreck as a dance; I want to do that on stage somehow. From that first impulse I thought of doing it in two different ways, one was to really overtly try to make it look like a shipwreck was onstage and another thing I thought of was to try to make it a solo, to try to put a shipwreck in a body. I loved the idea of it, but then I actually read the play and realized it was way too complex to try to do it as a solo dance. There is great complexity to the backstories, all this exposition that I was going to have to do, so I decided to give up on it. There was no way I could pull that off.

It just so happened that one of the sound designers I had pulled into the project had directed The Tempest a year before in Vancouver, so she knew the play inside and out, backwards and forwards. She sat me down and talked me through it and I was completely compelled, I was hanging on her every word, she explained the whole thing to me so beautifully. And because she was on the project anyway she could basically hold my hand through the process as I tried to deal with the play. There were many points along the process here I wanted to give up because it is really complex and dance is a really inefficient way to tell a story. I just about gave up, but I am happy with it now. It took some time. It premiered in 2011 and it was okay but it wasn’t what I had hoped it would be so when I remounted it we did some major renovations to make it the show we hoped it would be.

NCR: As a creator, how much of the process is inspiration and how much is discipline and persistence?

CP: It is 90% persistence and work and discipline, putting in the hours trying to figure stuff out. I don’t trust in inspiration, I don’t trust that I am going to have any revelations or flashes. When they do come I’m so grateful. I need to know that I can solve things through pure diligence and hard work it’s too terrifying otherwise. I can trust in my ability to do that. And then if inspiration comes in then great, it’s wonderful, it’s like flying, and it’s a great feeling. I don’t assume I’m going to have it.

NCR: How do you know when you have completed a piece of choreography?

CP: I am still tinkering with everything I do. I constantly change it and tweak it and finesse it. So in that way, it’s never done; that’s why I like working in dance, I can’t imagine writing a book and having to publish and then that’s it, you can’t go back and fix it. I love dance for that reason, it’s just in my nature to keep fussing. There is a moment though where you feel like it’s landed. The details you were working on get smaller and smaller and smaller; you’re not changing entire chapters, you’re changing a few bits of punctuation here and there. Sometimes that doesn’t even happen until halfway through a tour. It can keep changing and evolving. It can change when a new performer comes into the mix, new technology. That also needs to be integrated.

NCR: What do you hope an audience walks away with after watching one of your pieces?

CP: I want them to be moved, I want them to be touched, I want them to be amazed. I want them to think and feel through their body in a new way, a different way. I want them to recognize certain gestures and postures and trajectories in their own physical self; there are narratives, stories that are contained in their own body. I want them to tap into that, find new ways of seeing. Like anybody, whether you’re trying to touch people or connect with people through writing or film or visual art, you’re just trying to connect. You’re trying to create a sense of connection across cultures and generations and that sense of shared rituals between people: that sense of connection creating empathy.

NCR: How did your dance company Kidd Pivot come into being?

CP: I had been dancing with William Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet for five years between 25 and 30. At 30 I wanted to move back home. I loved my time in Frankfurt but I was being pulled back home. I came back to Vancouver and I started Kidd Pivot. The first piece I made was a duet for myself and another woman, called Uncollected Works. I created that show and toured for a couple years. That is how it all began. I always had the dream of having my own company and I also had the dream of dancing in my own work, which I did for ten years. And that was a special time in my life, being a performer inside my own work. It was really confronting and challenging in many ways but it was also a great coming together of a lot of different aspects of myself and a synthesis of my dancing and my choreography.

I am touring Tempest Replica now and then I am working on a new show. I am actually working on it now, but more intensely in the summer. So that’s up ahead. I was on sabbatical for a year. I had to dig deep to see if I wanted to continue having a company because, as you can imagine, it’s a lot of work and I have other options; I can create in other places where there is a whole infrastructure that I can walk into and not worry about any logistics. But after a lot of soul searching and a lot of reading I felt like to do what I want to do I really need a company. I need a company because I need dancers around me and collaborators, but particularly dancers around me with whom I have history and with whom I can try new things and where I can really lean on all the things we have done before and go forward. There is a lot of understanding and a lot of trust knowing people so well. It is only in that state that I feel I a truly innovate in my own work. When I make work for other companies, which I love, I love doing commissions for other companies, I am walking into a situation where I have about maybe a month to make a new piece and then it’s going to premiere and then I am going to leave and I am not going to have my hands on that work anymore~ I’m not going to be able to watch it, or touch it. For me that’s when the growth happens; being on tour with the piece and having the opportunity to fix it and change it and live it, that’s where I really learn things, discover things that help me to grow.

NCR: How has being a mother affected your life as an artist?

CP: It has added complexity. It’s really intense. It’s forced me to think on my feet a lot more; I don’t have the time to prepare myself the way that I used to, I don’t have enough hours. I used to put in a lot of hours: on a new creation I would put in sixteen to eighteen hours a day, just insane hours. Now I can’t do that, I have to change the way I create. I need to work over a longer period of time so I don’t work so many hours during the day. And I need to be able to think on my feet: be able to walk into the studio and not necessarily be prepared or know what I am doing and be able to figure it out in a moment. I also feel like there is a vulnerability or sensitivity or terror that has come into my life, along with all the beautiful things about being a mother. This kind of vulnerability that I think is going to make me a better artist ultimately. I feel much more raw. I feel much more connected to the world than I did before. I just feel a whole dimension has opened up in myself that I am sure is going to make me a better creator. Of course, now I am a creator that has a lot less time to create. I feel so fortunate. I have loved being able to take Niko with us everywhere we go on tour. He knows the show, he knows the characters, he wants to try on the costumes and act out the scenes. He loves to dance he is so delightful.

NCR: Do you have any practices that keep the mind/body/soul connection alive for you?

CP: If I did, I don’t have time to do them anymore. That’s why I had to stop dancing too: I don’t have time to train. It’s definitely a lack right now. I am just trusting that it’s going to get easier eventually. As he gets older, school starts to come into the mix and there might be a couple more hours in a day to take care of those things.

NCR: What’s on heavy rotation in your music library right now?

CP: Raffi! Ha. I was working on a piece on paper about a month ago and in the background I had on Max Richter, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons remix I loved having that music as the accompaniment to my process as I was thinking and writing. That’s what I have been playing over and over lately.

NCR: How would you describe your personal style?

CP: I have no personal style. I need help. It’s hilarious. Right now I am wearing jeans and a white t-shirt: it happened to be clean and it was lying on the bathroom floor and I put it on. I wish I had a personal style. But no, it’s pretty bleak.

NCR: What do you do for fun?

CP: I hang out with Nico. I play with Nico and Jay, my partner. It’s really fun hanging out with a kid.

NCR: Is there an artist, writer, filmmaker, poet, scientist, etc. that you would like to share with our readers?

CP: I have been reading a couple of books that have helped me a lot by Anne Bogart. I’ve really enjoyed her writing about theatre making, really inspiring stuff. And Then You Act, A Director Prepares: both of those books were real touchstones for me during my year off. In fact, it was reading her that I was affirmed in my choice to keep a company. It solidified that choice.

NCR: Do you think there are ways we can better support the arts?

CP: It’s so boring to say it but we need more funding. More support. For example, in British Columbia, we have the lowest per capita support for the arts than every other province. It’s dire over here in terms of what we are getting from our provincial government. It’s not just money to create the work, it’s money to maintain the work and tour the work and to get the work to the public. I wish ticket prices weren’t so high. When I compare the price of a ticket here to the price if you want to go in Frankfurt; so many more people can afford to go to the theatre in Germany than in Canada. Government subsidizing centres and theatres to keep prices low would help. Tickets don’t cover the cost of putting on a show. Not even close. I wish there was better access for people. Theatre is so tricky right? It is just a brief moment in time when the work actually exists: it only exists in the moment it is being performed. People can’t have access to it unless it is actually on stage in a theatre. Whereas with film or a book or a visual art you can have more access to it you can touch it more easily. Performing arts can be tricky because they need all of these things to add up.

NCR: Do you have a manifesto or motto that you create with?

CP: Keep working. Just keep trying. I can just trust in the hard work of it. If I feel lost, if I feel terrified, if I feel like I can’t figure something out or I have no idea how to make something work I just keep trying. Just keep plugging away at it. And I can kind of busy myself, if I just busy myself with the crafting and sometimes not even working on the thing itself, just working on something around the thing… if I keep myself busy with the crafting I keep going forward. It can be tempting to just wallow around in the terror of it; it’s easy to just be paralyzed so I have to really push myself to just keep trying.

NCR: What are you most proud of? In your work or elsewhere.

CP: Two things:

1) My little boy.

2) I’m proud of the good spirit and the good energy that permeates my company. I’m proud of the way in which we are together, I’m proud of the way we work together. It feels inspiring and it feels healthy, it feels very loving.

NCR: What has been your most challenging obstacle? How have you overcome (or are overcoming) that obstacle?

CP: Fear. It’s the big one. It’s like I said earlier I just have to keep going in spite of it, keep working in spite of it. Sometimes to even keep working with it, along with it, to allow it and to try to bring it along.

Will Forsythe, who I would consider a mentor in my life, said that the fear sits there in the corner of the studio to make sure you don’t do stupid stuff, that you don’t make bad work. It’s there to keep you away from mediocrity. I like that. I sometimes try to picture this terror I feel: it either sits on my shoulder or in the corner of the studio. And it’s there as a security guard against mediocrity.

Photo credits top to bottom: Crystal Pite- Michael Slobodian, 3 photos of Tempest Replica- Jorg Baumann, Dark Matters- Eric Beauchesne, You show- Michael Slobodian

NCR: Ayrton Senna > b. March 21, 1994

Ayrton Senna would have celebrated his 54th birthday today. Instead he died tragically in a crash while racing in Imola, Italy on May 1, 1994. For me, it was one of those moments I can recall distinctly. And one of those moments that shocks the mind body connection. Am I really seeing what I think I’m seeing? Is the person I’ve exalted as my favourite Formula One driver really in that car that just drove into a wall?

If you’re at all interested in enigmatic real life characters that seem to channel a relationship with a higher power, live passionately, take risks, charm millions, speak out, polarize … then I highly suggest the documentary film Senna. I viewed this film in June of 2011 at the Aubin Cinema in Shoreditch, London -  with a man I deeply loved who also raced cars long before I met him. 

I feel there has to be something a little mad about anyone who takes on such a passion and turns it into their profession. Madness (especially in handsome men) is something I was long drawn to. But deeper than that - Senna captures a spirituality and surrender to a man who seemed to balance his skill and ego with something far greater most of us can see touch or feel. He was a man of faith who drove really really fast. 

Senna always spoke of going for the gap - his untimely death has left a permanent one in the lives of those who loved him - whether they knew him or not. If there is a movie you’re curious about watching but haven’t and it’s called Senna - watch it now. ~ Sima

NCR: Motion vs. Analysis Paralysis 

NCR: Women In The World > Los Angeles

Last week I attended the Women in the World luncheon hosted by Tina Brown at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. The audience was introduced to the value of having women and their voices heard. Women in the World has created a platform to share stories and connect with others who can collaborate and support to build the vital voices of women working in the world to move humanity forward. Here is a the coverage of the luncheon where some inspiring women shared their stories. You will  hear from Tricia Compas-Markman founder of Day One Response, Manal Al-Sharif who sparked a disruptive campaign without even trying by driving in Saudi Arabia and posting it on You Tube, Khalida Brohi founder and executive director of Sughar Womens Empowerment Society, gay rights crusader Clare Byarugaba and best selling author Anchee Min. For many of us in the western world it is near impossible to imagine the freedoms we take for granted. I understand not all of us can attend fancy luncheons in Beverly Hills to talk about change, but what each of us can do is start in our communities where we live our lives. My eyes have been very open to the injustice towards women. It is around each of us every single day. My hope in posting this link is that one of these women will spark a fire in you that will empower you to begin. Begin a dialogue, begin a project only you have dreamed about, begin a conversation with an adversary, begin building a community that will support being a woman in the world, begin to think outside of our comfortable existence and begin to see that we are all very much connected.

It is so important that girls are supported in the value of being smart and that to be an innovator isn’t a far-fetched dream and impact isn’t something we can simply stand on the side lines and hope or expect other people to take up. In many ways, RIGHT NOW is probably the most exciting time to be a girl. Thanks to Tina Brown for creating a platform for women to meet, share, connect and celebrate through the art of story telling. ~ Sima

NCR: 20 Questions with Anna Murray

There are a few people in my life I know I can go to when I want to look at something from every angle, to truly dig into an idea or issue outside of my natural bias: Anna Murray is one of the best of those people. She is a woman with a wonderfully dynamic mind that is fiercely logical and yet also skilled in systems thinking. Anna is one of the smartest people I know and is also accessible in that intelligence~she is unpretentious and seeks new perspective. And she’s bloody goofy, with a sharp wit and a caring for others and emotional depth that I think shocks her at times.

And I wanted to share her with you.

Anna’s vital stats:

  • She is Senior Advisor, Corporate Affairs at Talisman Energy
  • Her expertise includes stakeholder engagement, human rights and security, community relations, and social risk management.
  • She speaks an array of languages… English, French, Spanish and Mandarin.
  • She’s mom to a cheeky daughter and wife to the pretty awesome Brent Sharpless. 
  • She founded Young Women in Energy (YWE), championing young women working in energy.
  • Anna is also the recipient of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award, Avenue Magazine listed her Top 40 Under 40, Oil and gas investor’s "20 under 40" rising stars in Exploration and Production Companies, and by Canadian Business Magazine as set to transform the face of business in Canada.
  • She has also worked at the United Nations, GlencoreXstrata and HSBC
  • Author of a case study for the joint UN High Commissioner for Human Rights- UN Global Compact publication entitled, “Embedding Human Rights in Business Practices III” which has been promoted around the world as a best practice example on business and human rights.

In short, she is fantastic and I am lucky to be her friend.

~Kristin

New Culture Revolution: Who are you?

Anna Murray: There are two me’s: the suit-wearing-business-mind and the globe-trotting-bohemian. I’ve done my best to amalgamate the two over the years and have recently added a third dynamic: baby-on-hip-social entrepreneur. Having said all that, some days the only thing I’m truly certain of is my unwavering love of wontons.

NCR: What was a defining moment in your childhood?

AM: When I was a teenager, an award-winning author from India came to live with us while she was visiting Canada on sabbatical. My mother was away for a month and so this 40 year old woman and I shared the house together - just the two of us. Despite the obvious age, cultural and interest gap, we got along like a house on fire. She taught me all about India, her culture, her food, her way of life. She was such a wonderful influence in my life and opened my eyes to life outside the West. We are still friends to this day.

NCR: What inspired you to get into the fields you’ve worked in? 

AM: Travelling around the developing world, I saw first hand the impact globalization was having in the far-reaching and forgotten corners of the globe. I felt worried and inspired all at once. I saw that business and society were inextricably linked and that development was inevitable. I wanted to help make that inevitable change happen in more ethical ways.

NCR: What is the common thread that ties in your choices professionally and personally? 

Conviction. Challenge. Change.

AM: What is your mission?

To help engage, inspire and progress those around me. Growing up in the West has afforded me many opportunities and I try to take advantage of that.  I want to give back.

NCR:How do you achieve work / life balance? 

AM: I’m not sure such a thing exists.  It is definitely an ebb and flow process. Often it’s more of one thing than another. And then it will switch. Sometimes all of the work pieces are perfectly aligned - other times it’s the life pieces. It would be dishonest for me to say that everything was always balanced. This is life. I like to go where life takes me and be (un)comfortable with the shifts; even if it means being unbalanced. Ironically not having it all perfectly together helps me identify opportunities and inspires new ideas.

NCR: Which books have made an impact on you? 

AM: My go to book as of late is Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.  She is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook and was ranked eighth on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business – a truly inspirational human. Sandberg encourages women to find work they love, take on challenge and remain passionately engaged. My biggest take-away from the book was when she remarked “don’t leave before you leave”. This was her way of urging her readers to go-ahead and take on challenges before turning them down on the assumption they won’t be able to handle it. Words to live by. It is incredible how large an individual’s capacity is.

NCR: Who inspires you and why? 

AM: On a personal level, my daughter inspires me because of her sense of humour. She reminds me on a daily basis that being silly is really the best place to be.

My husband inspires me because he is incredibly kind. Consistent, genuine kindness is the most valuable and difficult trait to come by.

My mother inspires me because she is truly authentic. Unfettered originality is the difference between average and exceptional.

On a professional level, Hillary Clinton because she is so compelling. Intelligence combined with passion is the most powerful force of all.

NCR: What do you feel is needed to improve the lives of women in the west working and maintaining a family right now? 

AM: Practically speaking, I would say workplace daycares. This would be beneficial to both the employee and the employer. The employee would benefit from time-savings and convenience of location, whereas the employer would benefit from an increasingly engaged workforce and higher levels of retention as a result.

NCR: What is your passion? 

AM: Designing, implementing and mobilizing (big) business resources and strategy to improve the world we live in.

NCR: What is your guilty pleasure TV show? 

AM: Currently it is The Good Wife. The show depicts a mother/lawyer who faces moral and ethical dilemmas. It walks us through her approach to dealing with untenable ethical challenges in the every day life of a working mother. I think it has substance.

NCR: If you could have one skill you don’t already what would it be and why? 

AM: The skill I admire most in others is an ability to write clearly, honestly and eloquently. Such a skill is wonderfully powerful.

NCR: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a woman in the workplace you’ve chosen?

AM: The challenges women face in the workplace have been examined time and time again – from lower comparable salaries to inter-female competition in limited upward mobility scenarios. I’m a big believer that the focus should be on personal reflection and how we can be our greatest advocate, or our own worst enemy. I might humbly suggest that we would all benefit from focusing on ourselves as individuals.  Rather than myopically identifying every hurdle, we should build our confidence, sense of self and capabilities.  This approach will ultimately work as a self-fulfilling prophecy. You will probably surprise yourself.

NCR: What do you find travel offers to your life and knowledge?

AM: Travelling can be the most personally fulfilling and professionally rewarding activity you can undertake in your life. Exposing yourself to other cultures and economic realities expands your understanding of the external world and helps to challenge your attachment to what normal is. Travelling has the ability to foster compassion in the most unexpected ways.

NCR: What motivates you when everything you are doing becomes really challenging? How do you keep moving forward?

AM: Nothing extraordinary comes from sitting around. I feel incredibly motivated by the people I have met around the globe. We are blessed to live in a part of the world where opportunity is abundant. I feel it is our responsibility to take advantage of such privilege in order to give back and help shape a better world. 

NCR: What is sustainability to you?

AM: Approaching business challenges with balanced and informed reason to enable workable solutions for all parties involved. In other words – ensuring all those (potentially) affected by an activity have a seat at the table and a voice with which to speak. Whether we are referring to big business or personal relationships, the key to long lasting, productive relationships is ensuring transparent, consistent and equitable communication.

NCR: What is leadership?

AM: Authentically building up the people around you.

NCR: You are in a very controversial industry, how do you handle this controversy?

AM: ‘Controversy’ demands a balanced perspective. Outright condemnation does not often bear productive or realistic solutions. In this respect, I feel it is best to reflect on my own actions and understand my involvement in the perceived ‘controversy’ before jumping to an opinion. For example, we need energy to exist as we do – whether it is to heat homes and cook food, advance scientific and medical technology or power the lights in schools and hospitals. Given this reality, I prefer to focus on a constructive dialogue to encourage a balanced approach through consultation and engagement with all stakeholders.

NCR: Which piece of art that you own (of any format) is your favourite? Why?

AM: I have a beautiful painting of the hamsa. The hamsa depicts the open right hand, an image used as a sign of protection in many societies throughout history, believed to provide defense against evil. This painting is so near and dear to my heart as it was purchased in Turkey with some of my dearest friends after a challenging and eye-opening trip in Syria. It invokes the best of memories for me - exceptional friendships, a beautiful part of the world and thought provoking experience. 

NCR: The best meal you have ever had? Location? Time of day? Company? etc…

AM: Sometimes simple is best, no? For me eating is often more about the experience than the food itself. Northwest India - Gujurat, the Little Ran of Kutch. My mum and I had been backpacking around India for almost 2 months. We were in a remote village and were the only tourists around. We sat down at an open-air, road-side ‘café’. We were served a steaming hot cup of fresh chai tea and the most delicious chapatti with chutney. The gentlemen at the table down from us were smoking bidis, small hand-rolled cigarettes wrapped in tree leaves tied with string. The sun was setting. A bright old turquoise truck drove by carrying bags of turmeric. One of the bags must have been torn, as while the rickety old truck drove past, it left streaks of orange dust in its trail. The air was faint with the scent of spice. The setting sun was warm on our faces. All senses invoked - sight, smell, taste. 

http://www.youngwomeninenergy.com

http://www.avenuecalgary.com/top-40-under-40/anna-murray

http://www.financialpost.com/magazine/Canada+Most+Powerful+Women/3938673/story.html

NCR:  Maiyet FW14 at Grand Palais, Paris

Sustainable luxury does exist in a few far reaching corners of the world… one of my favourites to share with you this Monday… Maiyet. Enjoy! ~ Sima

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