Photographer Sema Balaman began a documentary project in 2006 with several other photographers, shooting the daily lives of the nomadic Mugat clans in Central Asia. Referred to more widely—and controversially—as “gypsies” (as per their European counterparts, the Rroma), the Mugats are relatively isolated in their own communities where they keep their traditions, celebrations, and ways of life alive and well despite societal repression.
But, before we go too far in that direction, today’s post is not political. It’s all about making life beautiful with whatever you have at your disposal. Browsing the photos of Balaman and others is as inspiring as browsing any Pinterest feed.
The colors, textures, and clever use of space and resources result in glowing interiors that emit a sense of DIY pride and festive, hyper-creative sanctuary. Especially those shot in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan—some of which are below.
There is palpable a degree of conflict around sharing and appreciating “pretty” images of people who are struggling with poverty and repression, but I also feel strongly that most of us want our positive contributions, projects, creativity and even style to be noticed and appreciated on a basic human level.
I can’t speak for the photographers or what they are trying to achieve with these photos, reportedly inspired by fear-turned-curiosity, but I can speak for myself when I say that I’m inspired by them. In these photos, you’ll see smiling faces, beautiful paintings, celebrations and …let’s face it, amazing outfits. A little bit of awareness and love allows us to admire these images without disregarding the very real people featured in them.
We’re all human, and we all want to be appreciated, noticed, and celebrated.
It’s my hope that sharing these will inspire you, and that any of these subjects would be thrilled to know their creativity and vibrancy continues to inspire others around the world.
Having your desk set up near a big window is amazing. Lots of natural light and fresh air, a view of the trees swaying outside along the street as people stroll through the nabe… Papers blowing around as a result of a random breeze, however, is not one of my favorite things.
I’ve done a similar DIY before, but those were for pattern paper and these are smaller, for to-do lists and loose sheets on my desk. Okay, you got me! I just can’t stop decorating rocks. Anyway, here’s how to create some cute weights for your desk.
Start with some clean, lovely rocks, which you can find anywhere in the great outdoors. I favor beach rocks, but I found these in Brooklyn. I was walking home from having drinks with friends, and couldn’t resist.
Yes, I probably looked a little weird fishing for rocks in the street at 1AM… but it’s all for the sake of a cute DIY project, so, justified.
Gather up some decor (sequins, cabachons, flat back gems) and tacky glue.
Apply the tacky glue to the back of your embellishments carefully.
Press them down on the surface of the rock and hold for a few seconds to make sure everything stays in place.
When applying sequins, I use tweezers or needle nose pliers to place them precisely and avoid getting glue everywhere.
I also used some vintage bindis that I found in a shop in the East Village. Their glue was beginning to wear off and they probably wouldn’t have been great on skin, but with a little tacky glue, they work just fine on rocks.
Continue embellishing to your heart’s content. Once finished, display them on your window sill, or anywhere, until you need them for paper-stabilizing.
These make great gifts. Wrap up a set and give them to a co-worker or even to your mama for mother’s day.
Want to see more DIY? Check out my page on Cut Out + Keep.
Many more projects on the way this spring!
Oh Sabo Skirt. I see you all over Pinterest, I bookmark all of your colorful boho-tastic dresses, and I even try to DIY the occasional beachy pastel romper in your honor. But my favorite thing to do? Get lost in your lookbooks and the Sabo Skirt blog.
The Coachella Collection lookbook landed in my inbox this week, in honor of the festival and the pop-up “Sabo Springs” resort that was installed in the Palm Springs foothills for it-girls to lounge at between bands. It got me wandering through the digital landscape of perfect vacay outfits and long wavy sea salt-tousled hair. Once you go there, it’s hard to come back to reality…
Here are a few of my favorite shots from the Coachella lookbook and, because I couldn’t resist, other recent shoots that put the spirit of summer in reach.
Can’t you just feel the sunshine, luxe fabrics and ocean spray? Mmmm.
There’s a reason I have time to write this blog post today (and schedule one for tomorrow). It’s because I’ve set my Gmail inbox to offline while I take care of all the existing to-do’s, without new ones piling up on top like a Tetris game gone horribly wrong. This is day 9 of Nisha Moodley‘s #FreedomAdventure challenge.
She’s been sending out a new challenge each day aimed at finding the beautiful balance between “ambition and ease”. How sweet does that sound? Her subscribers have been instagram-ing daily photos of themselves interpreting the various challenges. Some of mine are below.
I unexpectedly found that these exercises, when you really do them, open your eyes to some of the ways we contribute to our own frustration.
For instance, I typically go to sleep feeling like I haven’t done enough during the day, drained of inspiration. And how could that be, when I spent all day “working”? Sound familiar? It’s all about “work smarter, not harder”… but in this case it’s work with clarity, not with wild abandon.
Once you’ve found clarity around what you want to experience in life, you won’t fall into the trap of being fruitlessly busy. You’ll be less tempted to put out fires in your inbox all day rather than doing game-changing work (and you’ll even see the value in throwing the occasional impromptu luau… or whatever). Once you find your “north star”, you can careen toward it.
Amazing, right? So obvious, but amazing.
There are 14 days total, and I’ve decided to make this post to encourage you babes to jump on the bandwagon, even though we’re a little more than half way finished. There are great videos, fun prompts, and a hashtag feed of inspiring snapshots to benefit from. You can check out my progress on Instagram, too.
Here’s to clarity, pretty photos, and doing amazing work.
P.S. I also want to say thank you to Nisha Moodley for consistently being one of the most inspiring women in my internet life! The mere act of visiting her website is like strolling into a soothing sanctuary of glittery-purple bliss.
On a snoozy Friday afternoon as I was sitting at my desk plugging away at an excel sheet full of copy, a newsletter from my favorite store in NYC appeared in my inbox, like a gem surfacing from the depths of the internet.
It was an ABC Home newsletter, detailing upcoming events in the Deepak Homebase. I’ve seen a few talks there, including one by the amazing Arianna Huffington, and was thrilled to see one of my favorite names on the list: Gabrielle Bernstein. She was giving a talk with Mallika Chopra, founder of Intent.com (and of course, Deepak’s daughter) in celebration of her new book, Living with Intent.
I wasn’t that familiar with Mallika, but I bought my tickets within 15 seconds.
On Tuesday night I made my way through the rain and the rush hour crowds to ABC Home (aka most magical place in Gotham City) to the super modern, boho-tastic sanctuary where the talk was given.
Below I’ve boiled down the five things that stood out the most for me during this talk, aside from how taken I was with Mallika’s warm personality and sense of humor.
Power is held wherever you put it. A famous story in Mallika’s family is that of her grandmother planning out a very special, specific sari for the day when she would greet the new Prime Minister of India, along with millions of others, as he passed by in his car.
The family teased her for caring which colors she wore, and for thinking he would even see her. But in the end, his car stopped just ahead of her on its path, and he exited the vehicle and handed her a rose, out of everyone there. Can anyone argue against the power of manifestation? She went on to wear certain color saris to predict the outcome of sports games, and was rarely ever wrong. Adorable (and powerful).
Own your story, whether it’s the story of globe-trotter, guru, or amazing mother. Mallika has two daughters, and she spoke for a few minutes about a modern mother’s dilemma when she aims to live a spiritual existence: do I travel the world? Go on spiritual adventures? Spend all day meditating? Attend endless seminars and retreats? At the end of the day, you’re a mother, and that’s your story, and that’s one of the most amazing stories you can experience.
Recognize when you’ve checked out and set the intention to return. There are few things more refreshing than a role model revealing how they’re just like us. We’re all works in progress. No one is perfect. Mallika recalled a time when she was giving a talk to a large group of people about living with intent, but her mind was actually wandering to her to-do list, laundry that needed to be done, etc. She recognized this and asked the group to meditate while she realigne, so she could be present with them.
Lead by example. Her father is Deepak Chopra, so you might not be surprised to learn that learned meditation as a daily practice at age 9. However, she confessed, it wasn’t because she thought it was “cool”, or more interesting than after school cartoons or other things kids want to do. She simply saw her mother meditating for one hour per day when she got home, and in order to spend more time with her mom, she planted herself nearby and meditated too.
Falling off the wagon is part of the process. Finally, the adorable story Mallika shared about her constant struggle with a chocolate chip cookie fixation was a cute but poignant metaphor for every struggle in life. She spoke about the process, winning the little battles, and taking it day by day… which sometimes includes giving in and having a chocolate chip cookie.
If you enjoyed these gems of wisdom, grab her book: Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy (not an affiliate link). I’ll be reading it this month during my morning commute.
P.S. Obviously Gabby was awesome too. ;}
The best part of spring cleaning is the fun part that follows it: decorating! Replacing old decor with fresh new accents with new energy for the changing season is a fail-proof way to get your creative gears going again, if you found yourself in a winter rut in the darker months. I know I did!
So when an email landed in my inbox showcasing an amazing handmade tie-dye tablecloth, I fell for it instantly… and naturally, clicked through to see what other gems I could find. Bomisch is an online shop with a simple, chic, modern approach to home decor and living. The e-market exists alongside a curated journal full of ideas for adding touches of personality and beauty to your home. Check out the aforementioned tablecloth and some of my other favorite items.
Below, dandelion pinks organic cloths
* These are technically burp cloths for babies, but they’re so gorgeous, they could be used any way!
I can almost feel the air changing as I daydream about decorating for spring.
Shop these and other beautiful items at Bomisch.