Wednesday, 30 September 2009

I'm the World today!

So my dearest sister-friend told me this site, and I took the quiz, and...

I'm the Universe today!

You are the World

Completion, Good Reward.

The World is the final card of the Major Arcana, and as such represents saturnian energies, time, and completion.

The World card pictures a dancer in a Yoni (sometimes made of laurel leaves). The Yoni symbolizes the great Mother, the cervix through which everything is born, and also the doorway to the next life after death. It is indicative of a complete circle. Everything is finally coming together, successfully and at last. You will get that Ph.D. you've been working for years to complete, graduate at long last, marry after a long engagement, or finish that huge project. This card is not for little ends, but for big ones, important ones, ones that come with well earned cheers and acknowledgements. Your hard work, knowledge, wisdom, patience, etc, will absolutely pay-off; you've done everything right.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Thanks, Sis!

Unite for Climate!

When are we going to stop labeling one country as developed industrial country, and another one as developing country, and hence one has more responsibility than others, or vice versa? I'm tired of these labels.

When are we going to see that we live in the same planet with limited resources, that eventually the hell with those statistical significance of the data they are debating... or that climate change issue is being politicised by some people? I'm tired of these debates.

Data is important. Accurate numbers are important. Profit sharing may be important. But they are not as important as our hearts. Not as important as our consciousness, our responsibility to Mother Earth...

The price for ignoring this climate change issue is too high to pay. Not merely whether I'm right or another person is right. Not only published papers or reports in fanciful journals. Not even the Nobel Prize.

The price is Mother Earth herself. The hundreds of thousands of ppl displaced due to cyclones and other hazards. The price is our only home...

When the time comes, it matters not if I'm a scientist or a teacher or a farmer. It matters not if I'm an economist or a nurse or a policewoman.

What matters is that I am a human... with my responsibility towards Mother Earth who gives me Life. What matters is my moral and spiritual duty to Her.

Rants for the Bangkok climate change meeting, 28 Sept - 9 Oct 2009...

Pic: Mother Earth

Saturday, 5 September 2009

My tips to buying shoes

"What is it about shoes? I mean, I like most kinds of clothes, but a fabulous pair of shoes can just reduce me to jelly." ~ Becky Bloomwood, 'Shopaholic Abroad'

Since I’m officially a shoeaholic now, and the bloody statistics software I tried to understand has not open up to me yet (this program must be a male!), I think I will just jot down some ideas for myself and whoever wants to read this.

First rule: Love your feet and legs first. Then love your shoes. NOT the other way around. Comfort comes first.

Get that? You buy shoes for your feet and legs. You don’t mould your feet and legs to accommodate your shoes. Well, this rule can be 'stretched' to certain extend, but comfort comes first. Always.

Buying shoes directly at stores

This is a rather piece of cake.
1. Time of purchase: Attempt to buy shoes at the end of the day, for your feet tend to get larger in the afternoon/evening

2. Try, try, try! Don’t worry if the seller isn’t happy at your nth attempt to find the correct pair. NEVER buy a pair of shoes just to please the seller (I almost did that once!). Buy them because you are happy with it.

3. If it’s running shoes/sneakers or boots, always allow about 1cm extra space at the toe pad. Particularly for these types of shoes, they should serve you comfort (and joy, if possible). Make sure that you don’t sacrifice your calves by putting boots that are too tight for them. No boots are sexy when you have to squint and flinch while wearing them.

4. If it’s pump/court shoes or slingbacks, it’s a bit tricky. Colin McDowell said that ‘Shoes which fit well are a modern luxury’. I agree, particularly with pumps and slingbacks. It has to fit just right. Just snug enough for you to walk comfortably without screaming inside your heart (along with the feet). It can’t be too loose either, for it will be like flip-flops and gives blisters at the heels instead of sexiness. BUT you can always do the tricks for loose pumps. Put cushion pads at the ball of feet and, if this is not enough, place bits of cloth remnants at the toe parts to make it snugger. Or place sticky gels at the slingbacks to keep them in place.

5. Heels have to be of the right height. I know that shoe-fetish likes high heels because they accentuate women’s legs and I do agree with that. I just don’t agree that we should sacrifice comfort and health in the name of fashion. Some health-feet websites would recommend approx 2.5” (6cm) maximum height for comfort. Sturdy heels are better than kitten heels (tho those kitten heels are truly cute!), let alone stilettos. See Oh! Shoes for more info, among others. Adding extra gel cushions at the ball of feet helps distributing the weight off our ball of foot as well.

6. Colour: at least you should have three colours, IMO. Black, silver and gold. Then add other colours of your preference: red, orange, pink, blue or even taupe or nude. Pick colours that will go well with your dresses. I tend to pick shoes that complement my dresses/skirts/tops, not the other way around. But if you find a pair of nice shoes with extraordinary colour and you really like it, well, get it. Just make sure you don’t wear it only once (for instance because it clashes with your clothes), for it will be a wasted investment.

Buying shoes online

1. Almost all points above are also applicable for online shoe purchase (except for time of purchase, duh!). The point about the seller is also applicable. Yes, because I tell you what: you have the right to ‘hassle’ sellers for information about the shoes. You have to exercise that right and the seller has to respond to it.

2. Found this handy tip from good buyers at eBay: Measurement, measurement, measurement! Since you can’t try the shoes yourself online, you HAVE to ask for exact measurements to sellers. Don’t rely on the stated size, for size varies according to manufacturers. I go between size AU 8-9 (EU 39-40, UK 6-7), but sometimes I could fit size AU 7 (EU 38, UK 5)! The important measurements you must seek are: insole length, width of ball of foot, and heel height. For boots, add the calf circumference. Then, compare the measurement provided with the fittest pair of shoes you have. If you want to buy pumps, you have to compare it with pumps you already have. If you don’t have pumps, and this will be your first purchase of pump shoes (online, even!), get your feet measured. Check this site on how to do it.

Also remember, if you buy pointy or narrow shoes, you have to add more to the insole length. Ask the seller for the maximum length where the toes end, NOT only the total insole length. Depending on how pointy it is, the maximum length could be 2-3cm shorter than the total insole length, and you should use this shorter one instead of the longer one.

What if it doesn’t fit?!

It happened to me, you know, with my online purchase (with the correct measurement, really! Alas, they were a bit pointy and I wasn't aware of it). Or it often happen that the shoes you tried at the store fit, but then it does not fit anymore at home. If the shoes are just a tad too narrow, you’re saved. But if it’s more than 1 size too small, you better let it go. Don’t mould your feet for the shoes; you're not Cinderella's sisters and no prince to charm anyway. Return the shoes or sell them back at eBay. So this is what I did for shoes that were a bit narrow. They worked the charms, though none of my shoes that required stretching were made of leather (all of stretching techniques are most effective for leather shoes):

1. Hair-dry the shoes (black satin pumps) and wear them right away. The feet will mould the shoes. Wear them around the house or inside your office, just to get your feet used to them.

2. Use the ice technique as Michelle Phan (she’s so cute!) described in YouTube. It worked a bit for my beautiful brocade shoes (tad too narrow at the width), for it breaks the materials so it’s easier to mould

3. Since it’s still not enough, I went to local cobbler and have it stretched. He stretched them for two days and now they’re better. I can walk with it now, tho they’re still a bit narrow (due to the nature of the materials, not because the cobbler didn't do a good job. In fact, he was a good cobbler, and a nice one too!)

4. Buy a shoe stretcher (or two) and stretch the shoes myself. That’s what I plan to do with my brocade shoes (she’s the hardest to break), for she’s already okay now. Just need several stretches more to really make her flexible. I’ve bought one from eBay and I will tell you in a few weeks how it goes! Investing in a shoe stretcher is also good because you can do it all over again with your other shoes, or with shoes that haven't been worn for a long time and shrink a little.

Bottom line: don’t use your own feet to break the shoes. Use other tools/methods for that purpose. Love your feet first, then the shoes

Caring for your shoes

Caring for our shoes make them long-lasting and it means savings in the future, for you don't need to replace them every so often.

1. Keep the shoe boxes to store the shoes. If the shoes came without the box, at least wrap them with tissue paper and keep them inside a plastic bag or purchase a transparent container to keep them in

2. Keep the shoes out of dust and damp. Use water absorber if necessary. Your shoes are your investment, appreciate and take care of them!

3. Some people would put pictures of their shoes at each box for easier identification, but I find it too much to do. I just memorise them, for each pair of shoes came with different boxes, but you’re welcome to do the pix!

4. Do we really need a shoe closet? Well, if you can afford it, why not? But if not, a cupboard or shelves are useful too

5. Invest on shoe shampoo to clean your shoes (particularly the fabric ones), shoe polisher (for the leather ones) and shoe protector (that’s a spray to apply layers of protection on top of the shoes). They’re worth it, and the shampoo has nice fragrance. Clean the shoes regularly and let them dry before storing them properly

Caring for your feet

I believe that healthy feet contribute significantly to healthy body and good life. Here's what I do to myself towards that purpose:

1. Don't wear high heel too often. We have loads of fashionable flat shoes nowadays, the Gladiator style and ballet flats are good examples. Giselle Bundchen has been producing a great line of comfy Ipanema sandals. Choose them for daily wear instead of high heels, if possible. If your work place requires high heels, always keep a pair of ballet flats or similar comfy shoes behind your desk so that you can interchangeably wear them during breaks. But you might want to still add up to 2.5cm height to those flats, for it helps reducing pain in the shins, or so these guys said.

2. Do feet exercise. Turn one foot slowly left to right, and then the other. Massage them. Love them. Talk to them. They take you everywhere. If the battle ensues between feet and shoes, make sure you're on the feet side, not the other way around. You want to keep walking straight as you can even though you're reaching 70!

3. If occasion arises for high heels, make sure you have enough padding in them. Use gel cushion, heel pads and other tools easily available in local chemists to increase the comfort. After the exciting party, make sure that you take care of your feet again. Massage them, thank them for the good dance/party, and sleep with elevated legs to release the pressures.

Good luck! Remember, love your shoes. But love your feet first!

Pic 2. Cinderella's glass pump shoes, from
Pic 3. Poor Anastasia... from Popcorn UK

Friday, 4 September 2009

The Invitation

Special thanks to Ee for sending me this beautiful poem...

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Pic: Vnssa from Deviantart

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Why do I love Becky Bloomwood?

I was being sulky a few weeks ago, and chose to counteract it by re-reading two of the Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella that I have. I hence re-read Shopaholic Abroad (where she shopped till dropped in NYC) and Shopaholic & Baby (that was really really cute!). Then I pondered why I liked this series so much, because… it’s actually about a very consumptive girl who can’t stop herself shopping. It’s very non-academic, not so enlightening (or is it), and seriously, I have lots of tings to do. But as a girlfriend of mine said, hey, it’s okay to read no-brainer chick-lit once in a while!

And you know what? She’s right! I don’t think writing a good chick-lit like the Shopaholic series is a no-brainer; Sophie Kinsella was clearly very smart and knowledgeable to be able to write a very captivating series. But reading the (seemingly) no-brainer theme of a shopaholic is, well, no brainer. It’s an escape from day-to-day academic world. The Shopaholic series is definitely one of my favourite series. The books, I mean. Not the movie. Isla Fisher did a good job as a Yankee Becky. But I couldn’t relate to the Hugh Dancy’s version of Luke Brandon, the beau, tho Dancy is also an Englishman. I picture Luke Brandon as taller, better framed, and also a bit more reserved, but funny at the same time…