Resolutions for 2014

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A very special friend in my life has given me some (somewhat) unsolicited advice with intent to have me start 2014 off on the right foot. You know the type – the friend who will force you to face your inner-most demons completely out of the blue, usually over a bottle of wine, without any attempt to sugar-coat the truth, all in the name of friendship. A true gift. So, with utter nonchalance in tone, I have been advised ‘to simply suspend my disbelief’ for all the amazing things that are happening to me. ‘For they are all warranted and earned – you deserve it…’ And with that deadpan look only a true friend can give, the statement hit my core, whether I wanted to face my demons on that particular evening or not.

When I reflect back on 2013, it would seem that each time I have experienced a new event in this venture or overcome some strange challenge (that I never even imagined that I would have to face in the first place…), my reaction has always been one of awe and shock at my good fortune and dumb luck. Sheer happiness. Utter joy. Things that were once thought impossible, have become possible and I often struggle to figure out the ‘how’ while in the moment. As a result, my reflexes and instincts are becoming compromised. It’s as if everything in my mind is bright and acute with my peripheral moving in slow motion. I can’t seem to react in the same way. I’m able to both hear and see what is going on around me but not at the same time. It’s mildly surreal.

And this dissonance/happy state may be putting me at a business disadvantage.

For it is only when I have a quiet moment to sit back and process the events of the day (with a well-earned glass of wine) can I become objective. After some reflection, I begin to recall the feeling as though I am missing something but because I am on such an adrenaline high in the moment, my senses seem dull, weak and just white noise in the background. I’m simply overcome with gratitude to notice anything else. So, while I am trapped in this stunned and blind state, am I really asking all the right questions? Am I really being thorough in my analysis of the situation? Am I really protecting my interests and not allowing myself to be taken advantage of? Am I unnecessarily creating serious potholes in my path that may be making my road more bumpier than it really needs to be?

2014 will be an interesting year. I have no doubt I will continue to be amazed at the challenges, experiences and achievements which lay ahead.

But I think I need to work hard on not trying to understand the ‘how’ or ‘why’ of a situation and focus more on the ‘who’ and ‘what’ in a much more jaded fashion. The real way that I deal with everything else going on in my life…

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How to give a bottle of ketchup for Christmas and not look cheap

Raw Sugar

Christmas Tourtiere Recipe

For a yummy and indulgent meal this holiday season – without any thought of calories, fat (save that for March when bikini season is fast approaching), or any other modern sense of health-related reasoning – try this meat pie. I can guarantee you that it will bring the tallest and strongest man quite literally to his knees in utter gratitude and awe for your homemade creation! Seriously ladies – if you need a proposal, this is the smoking gun…I should know – I have gotten 2 as a result….

BTW – it takes a couple of days if you want to do it right. I got this recipe from a proper, elderly, French Canadian woman -quantities and instructions can be sketchy at times so go with your gut – as all cooking really ought to be done anyways…

It will make 3 pies – but don’t worry…

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Except today…

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I have just committed my first major error in this venture.

I spoke the truth. You know the one that everybody THINKS of but never actually verbalizes because they posses a little something called tact?

Damn me and my lack of a filter between my brain and mouth. Cue the dramatic sigh and eye-roll…

I would like to point out that I accept full responsibility for putting myself in this compromising situation in the first place. HAD I done a thorough research and expressed a wild interest and a sense of enthusiasm for all the fascinating details pertaining to NAFTA and its rigorous fabric importing regulations from Canada into the United States, (all in a handy 60 page PDF document provided neatly to me via the internet by the US government), I could have avoided this rather annoying little predicament quite nicely.

But alas, this was a mere oversight on my part.

Up until my rather scary phone call from a very terse and possibly armed customs agent – (but of course he was armed. The mere fact that we were miles apart and I was nowhere near his visual range, did not make things any less stressful for me I can assure you.) – everything was moving rather smoothly. This whole venture was becoming pretty easy actually. Then I heard his mildly condescending and authoritative voice…and I immediately felt like I was at the principle’s office all over again.

He demanded to know where I had sourced my fabrics. In an effort to inject a little humour into the already tense situation, I simply replied ” I buy all my fabrics in Montreal, but I guess they probably originally came from China because doesn’t everything really come from there anyway?!” Cue the giggle.

I realize it’s not my best work. But, given the scary voice, the fact my coffee hadn’t fully kicked in, and our obvious lack of proximity to properly convey all of the necessary non-verbal accoutrements to complete the scene in my obvious attempt for wit before 9 a.m. – I think I could have done a whole lot worse…

And there it is. I told the truth. And it has cost me $80 for saying the word China.

Damn me and my sassy mouth.

I’m still here!

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I know what you have all been thinking over the past couple of weeks while enduring my silence and lazy re-blogging posts (I have a couple of real gems you know…) -where is she?! So, I feel the need to clarify a couple of things:

No – I have not given up.

No – I have not gotten bored with this venture.

No – I did not fail with my product or sale cycle. My customers are very happy.

No – I have NOT gotten distracted by something really shiny (although I am not ashamed to admit that this HAS happened to me in the past…).

I am still here – learning, testing and evaluating every aspect of this venture and quite frankly, myself. It’s been a very reflective and eye-opening couple of weeks to say the least.

I am very happy to report that I experienced a genuine sense of satisfaction in my life as a result of this venture. While celebrating my achievement in a rather dimly lit restaurant last week, I was caught a little off-guard and ended up feeling a very different sense of pride and emotion for what I have accomplished – without any hint or warning. And it wasn’t the fake sense of pride (like I usually have), but one that was felt much deeper within my soul. It was a little odd and disconcerting to me because at first, I did not know how to react to all of it (this MAY explain all the giggling). For I have completed my first wholesale contract – delivering in-full and on-time, effectively ending the product development cycle and finishing what I had rather unwittingly started all those months ago. And while listening to the praise that I was receiving from across the table, I realized that I wasn’t simply brushing it off or undermining it unconsciously like I usually would.

For once in my life, in my never ending game of me against the world, I finally felt that I was an equal competitor on the playing field. And it felt amazing.

Well, this is a new concept – me actually accepting praise?! This first sale has provided me with some critical data that I can now use to move forward with WAY more confidence than before. I have been able to test my boundaries and limitations in this process to understand what works, doesn’t work and most importantly, what I fear and what is holding me back.

So, I am reading. I am quiet. I am reflective. And I have a new favorite restaurant.

But I am certainly not giving up. Not by a long shot.

Shh…tights are a tall woman’s secret weapon

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That and high boots. But that is another tall secret for another day…

Tights are an inexpensive way to test your fashion boundaries, have some fun and show off your legs all while covering your ankles for a change. The options for colors, designs and materials are literally as endless as the price points. I walk into the specialty shops in the mall and my creative mind begins to wander and explore so many different scenarios – I’m like a kid in a candy store! It’s nothing but glitter, flowers and sex all rolled into one!

Naturally, my reverie is so rudely interrupted when I look to the back of the package.

Being an eternal optimist, I always think the handy chart will somehow magically include sizing for someone who is over 5’11. But alas, I am forever disappointed. Thankfully, I just happen to like living on the edge (of course) and I always end up taking the risk by buying the extra large size (which clearly I am not) and HOPE that the material is stretchy enough to limit the low riding crotch that will inevitably occur. Or that the pattern will not become oddly distorted as I pull every last bit of length I can out of the fragile material. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t – and when it doesn’t, I just simply throw up the white flag in defeat and have an uncomfortable day in my fabulous looking tights that cost me a small fortune.

Wait a minute – is this a potential product for tall women just WAITING for development at Raw Sugar?!

OMG – I think I’ve just been struck by lightning…

Leather leggings at work

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OOTD – Raw Sugar high-waisted fake leather leggings, woven wool vest, nude stilettos, Mackage cape.

Now, it is important to note that I am certainly NOT someone who fears the random opinions of my peers or of my HR department and genuinely do enjoy bucking the dress code daily simply to get a reaction out of people for fun. I realize that this attitude makes me slightly more confident than others with my fashion choices in the workplace and as a result, I have become unforgettable across multiple departments. But if your dress code is a little stricter than mine, fake leather leggings can still work at your more conservative abode IF you follow certain rules.

The real trick to wearing any fake leather is to simply buy a higher quality version – fake leather leggings have the capacity to look real trashy, real fast, if you are not careful. Take my advice and avoid the $20 ones – as they are invariably poor in quality, with flimsy-looking construction and will guarantee to leave an ink stain in any seat that you may be sitting on…

Next, if you want to avoid any further negative attention from your obviously jealous colleagues (hehe), cover your bum. I would take this opportunity to play with the layering look by having lots of large, cozy, heavy and flowy pieces on top, with your cute leggings peeking out underneath. A simple stiletto or bootie will do. You will be warm (natch) but way more important than being warm – you will be chic and trendy looking – thus elevating the fake leather legging to a higher status and removing any possibility of bargain bin trashiness.

And finally, tall women can now get this look too by visiting my website! There really are no more excuses ladies…

My little bundle of joy!

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My new legging shipment came in last week – and its arrival on my doorstep was met with a highly dangerous and volatile cocktail of anticipation, anxiety and excitement because:

1. I happen to LOVE getting presents.
2. Each shipment travels to me SIMPLY on faith.
3. I have an overactive imagination.

I try in vain to envision their actual location in transit, their surroundings and whether or not they are being well taken care of by their carrier or crushed under the sheer weight of their travel companions. I catch myself picturing me caught this strange travel predicament instead – and all I can come up with is a sense of being trapped…in a very small plane…overwhelmed by my 500 pound neighbor spilling over his seat and into mine…an errant child in front of me having reclined her seat all the way back…a never-ending series of mechanical and weather delays…THIS is when my panic starts to set in and my thoughts run even more out of control…

So, when I finally do get the chance to catch my breath with the receipt of an illegible notification of their arrival (and pull myself away from my overactive imagination), in what state do they appear to be in? For I could easily open the box only to find my carefully crafted leggings damaged, not in the correct quantities or worse, not up to my standards in terms of quality of construction. Since I am relying on others to perform these rather essential tasks and as someone who possesses a (slight) need for control in every situation, letting go and simply allowing them to float to my doorstep is quite a stressful event to say the least.

Thankfully as I tear the cardboard box to shreds (I did mention that I love to open presents, right?), I am able to breathe a huge sigh of relief for they have arrived in excellent condition and as expected. I have been busy most evenings this past week sorting, inspecting, folding and tagging. The assembly line that I have created on my kitchen island is rigid and efficient in its process – one that commences and ends with a smile and a celebratory sip of wine.

And with every one of my leggings from this shipment passing inspection, I now find myself looking for a local tailor. For once in my life, my pants are far too long!

Rejoice!

Are you afraid of the dark?

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It’s a funny feeling moving forward without really knowing where you are going. While I wouldn’t say that I am afraid of the dark, I certainly recognize its subtle warning to tread lightly. But what is it out there that is stopping me? What force is causing me to react so tentatively yet luring me forward at the same time? What is really lurking out there just beyond my reach?

I have been watching the dense, dark forest representing my goal for a very long time, but always with a keen awareness of the firm grip holding me back whenever I would venture too close to its edge. But now, without warning, this grip has been released – whether by force or fate – and with a child-like sense of curiosity, I blindly wander in without any real path.

It’s eerily quiet. I am desperately trying to coax my eyes to adjust to the darkness, hoping to catch some light reflecting off the shadows. But my eyes fail me. I am trying to not trip on the exposed roots or hit my head on the low hanging branches – ducking and diving purely on instinct and luck. I can hear the ground beneath my feet, reminding me that I have entered this place willingly. But my attention is drawn to my heart beat pounding in my ears, growing louder and more pressing in its rhythm and intensity.

I am completely alone.

Time no longer exists in this strange place. I have nothing to gauge it against to know if I am gaining ground or falling behind. I look around, searching in a naïve attempt to find safety, only to find nothing of comfort. I must continue to move for if I stand still, the quiet evils of the darkness will most certainly consume me. Am I going in circles? Everything looks the same as before. It is only by chance that I stumble upon a tiny opening of safety and I realize that I have been holding my breath the entire time. I gratefully take this moment to re-establish my bearings and quietly bring myself back to the original sense of calm and curiosity that led me here in the first place. My heartbeat continues to pound in my ears. Something is drawing me forward and my feet move once again in an unknown direction, my body unable to stop. Why do I submit to this pull and not just resist? Aren’t I supposed to stay still when one is lost in the forest? Shouldn’t someone be trying to save me?

And then I realize that I couldn’t even find my way back to the beginning even if I wanted to. And nobody knows that I am here.

It is the most compelling and strangely exhilarating feeling I have ever had. I do not know how, if or when I will emerge from this dark place or in what state. The only thing I know for certain is that I am exactly where I must be.

And surrounded by all this darkness and uncertainty, I couldn’t be any happier.