Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Taking Life by the...Pillow?

Most of you who know me have been following my road to success watching me writhe in anticipation for the new job while I dragged you through every bloody detail. You saw me freak out before and after the interview, and you saw me lose my cotton pickin' mind when they had the randomly good sense to give me the job and a fat raise.

As I'm in the 3rd week of the new gig and nearing the end of the 1st semester of grad school....I've decided to take a look back at what I have. For so many years I was always looking ahead, never satisfied with what I had. I could never wait for the weeks to be over so I would be one step closer to getting whatever I was doing over with. Whether it was school, a job, Easter, whatever...my mind was always 3 steps ahead of my body.

Right now my current schedule consists of: working full-time, commuting 2 hours a day, going to school 2 days a week, spending whole weekends catching up on homework, and the most important thing- being married! The problem is, I haven't been able to really attend to my duties as a wife and homemaker because the other priorities won't wait. I hardly go to church anymore, and I can feel myself slipping away spiritually.

So I sat back, looked at what I have and decided to do something I never thought would cross my mind: LESS. I already have the dream job and my education helps me with work and I can apply what I learn at school to my job and vice versa, but who says I have to go as fast as possible? So I wrote out a new plan, and basically what I have decided is I can't waste these years wishing they would pass by. I have decided to consciously keep myself in the present and appreciate the suspension.

While I hate to be cliché, I thought I would take this time to truly be thankful at Thanksgiving. These years won't be here forever, and before I know it I will be getting Botox and going through menopause. I think God gives us things and he wants us to be satisfied with them for a little while. I have plenty of time to do the things I want to do and still enjoy my life. I only have half a house worth of furniture, no landscaping, and there are a million projects I haven't finished....I will finish school a year later than I planned and I will have kids when I have them, and that's just fine with me...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cold Weather Potpourri

Well it's that time of year again. The time of year when I'm not satisfied with a normal smelling home which for me is a melange of garlic, onions, candle wax and an occasional dishwasher detergent aroma. No, this is the time of year when I take everything I want to eat and I put it in a pot and boil it strictly for aromatic purposes. It's a lot cheaper than the $20 stuff you get at the store and it feels more wholesome because you made it. Here's my potpourri recipe for late fall:

Tremenda Trigueña's Organic Potpourri Recipe

Fill a sauce pan 3/4 full of cold tap water
Place on stove top over low heat
Crumbled cinnamon sticks (2 or 3)
A punch of cloves (not a pinch)
Orange peels (either fresh or the dehydrated ones you can buy in the spice section)
A dash of vanilla (either extract or whole if you have it)

Let simmer all day long, but make sure to watch the water level. DO NOT leave this on if you leave the house. Yes it's common sense, but you never know who reads this stuff....

***This mixture not only sends a delightful warmth through your home, it also gives off some humidity for those of us who get dry cracked skin in the winter months. May you all have a wonderful cold season!


For those of us who are never satisfied with our lives (and you know who you are) what is it really that could make us sit back, look at our lives and say:

"I want to sit down and appreciate what I have and not pursue much else at this point." ?

In search for this balance I decided to ask myself what my true values are. I don't feel I have been able to keep up with the responsibilities I have before me and before I can understand why, I need to understand what is important to me. I am going to start a series and please note that I am not putting them in any certain order. Depending on the time of year, month, day, etc. priorities may shift but my values will stay the same. At this time of year I tend to be a little more pensive, a little more self-evaluative. If this series in any way resonates with you, feel free to let me know....
I won't publish a part to the series every time I post, but there should be a value posted at least once a week...


Friday, November 11, 2005

A moment to breathe....

Thinking quickly on my feet this week. This is the corporate pace I had heard about but had never picked up until now. Running here and there across the world trying to make meetings that get cancelled or rescheduled left and right. Being directed to make things happen, know the information, and talk to the right people. Haven't had a decent lunch hour yet...but yesterday I took a moment to sit on the edge of the lake and just breathe in the cold air of late fall. I had a chance to reflect and actually look at the foliage, the beauty of all the money that has gone into making this place beautiful. Design is all around me...but if I don't pick my head up and take even 5 minutes to look at it; it will be gone. The leaves of fall are probably my favorite thing about any season. The brilliance and warmth that God paints beneath our skyline every year is better than any turkey, pumpkin pie, or Christmas lights downtown. Nothing is more motivating than crossing my two rivers in the morning watching the fog lap against the gentle currents below and the crimson, amber, and pewter harmonies of the trees reaching up to praise Him who lords over it all....

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Why are They Letting me do This?

I start the new gig tomorrow and I am writhing in anticipation. I had my first official meeting on Thursday with a group of people who are responsible for launching a new product and I am on the planning team. The product is so exclusive and secretive at this point, we are using code words to talk about it. As I sat there and took in all the information going around the table, I thought to myself: "why are they letting me in on this information?" For the first time in a long time I felt important and part of an exclusive group. I will be working on two projects simulaneously; one of which is to streamline the launch of a breakthrough product for my company. All of a sudden I am going from entering orders and sending allocation requests to being part of a highly visible, technologically innovative campaign. You know, you can wait for so long to be part of something and you can dream about it until it seems real, but when it actually happens you step back for a minute to see if you are really awake. Here's to dreams coming true and about to take off....Cheers.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Hijab Chic

By Asra Q. NomaniSlate (U.S.) (October 27, 2005)

“Full coverage,” not your typical fashion show prerequisite, was the theme at a “fashion seminar” recently hosted by Nordstrom at the tony Tysons Corner Center mall in McLean, Va. The show, called “Interpreting Hot Trends for Veiled and Conservative Women,” was perhaps the first high-fashion hijab event sponsored by corporate America. The target: well-heeled Muslim women living in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, where mansions and mosques are filled with rich Muslim immigrants, an increasing number of whom shop at Tysons Corner.
Retailers are specifically marketing to fashion-conscious Muslim women.

The Nordstrom show is part of a growing trend: Western retailers and designers are beginning to market directly to Muslim women. In 2000, for instance, European designers Yves Saint-Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier showed at the International Festival of African Fashion in Niger while ultraconservative Muslims paraded through the streets in protest of the “satanic” presentation. A 2004 Hermes ad featured two women with the dark hair, dark eyes, and olive skin of many Middle Easterners and wearing the company’s iconic scarves wrapped around their heads in the Muslim style of hijab. (When asked, the Hermes advertising department would say only that its marketing pitch is “global.”) And a little over a week ago, French designer Judith Duriez, co-owner of the Dubai-based company Arabesque, debuted her fall 2005 collection of “sheilas” (veils) and “abayas” (gowns) for the cloaked Muslim woman. These fashions, traditional long black gowns (the color is one rule Duriez refuses to break), are enhanced by non-traditional accents such as mother-of-pearl trimmings and chiffon ribbons.

Retailers have likely caught on to the fact that conservative Muslim women are as interested in fashion as any other women and that, as a population numbering at least 500 million—an estimated half of which cover up regularly—they constitute a large, and potentially lucrative, untapped market. Indeed, to anyone who’s paying attention, it’s evident that Muslim women are going to great lengths (and in some cases spending a substantial amount of money) in an attempt to reconcile their religious mandate to dress modestly with their desire to look fashionable. Many women interpret the idea of “hijab”—the term comes from the Arabic word “hajaba,” which is translated as “to cover,” and is used generally to refer to modesty, and more specifically, to mean headscarves and formless gowns—quite liberally. They wear Diane Von Furstenberg mini-dresses over Levi jeans or rapper-style do-rags as headscarves. Other women don scarves by designers such as Christian Dior, Hermes, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana. And even the traditional dress is no longer black and shapeless but comes in various cuts, colors, patterns, and textures: slim-cut, baggy, silk, chiffon, fringed, fur-cuffed, hand-painted, and even embroidered with rhinestones and feathers.

The trend would be just another marketing gimmick, except that the hijab is not merely an article of clothing, but a politically charged symbol. The hijab, as most people know by now, has become emblematic of an ideological and political movement that promotes a puritanical interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. In this interpretation, it is “haram,” or illegal, for a women to reveal her arms, legs, or any bodily curves. In the most conservative circles, revealing the face, ankles, neckline, and hands is also verboten. (The Quran, while calling for modesty, does not mandate that women wear hair scarves or long gowns.)

To attend the fashion seminar, I had to go undercover in more ways than one. Nordstrom’s publicity department called the show a “private event” that was closed to the press. When I asked why, I was told the company hadn’t “media trained” its sales representatives. What if, God forbid, a Nordstrom saleswoman pitched a gauzy scarf that left a woman’s hair visible? I’m a Muslim woman, but I don’t cover my hair except when I go into mosques with a hoodie over my head in a look I call “ghetto hijab.” So, at the diner across the street, I draped a hot pink scarf from the Tie Rack over my head and covered my body in a flower-patterned Nine West trench coat—more Grace Kelly than hijabi Muslim, but it worked—and prepared to see what Nordstrom thought was in fashion for the veiled-and-shrouded set.

The morning of the event, about 100 women—their hair covered by scarves, their bodies cloaked in abayas or burqas, and at least two of them with their faces fully veiled—pulled into the Tysons Corner parking lot in Volvos, BMWs, and Lexus sedans. In liberal Muslim circles, these women are sometimes derisively called “hijabis.” The chicest among them—those who wear silk Hermes scarves and long Barneys jackets—are dubbed “fashionable fundies” (as in “fundamentalists”). The women call themselves “muhajabah,” or “women of hijab.”
Muslim women number at least 500 million—an estimated half of which cover up regularly—which means they constitute a large, and potentially lucrative, untapped market.

Of course, the most puritanical Muslims would say that hijab is not meant to be flashy. According to these men and women, it’s supposed to be the sartorial equivalent of a burlap sack, not a trimly tailored Anne Klein jacket. It’s supposed to be black, not trendy colors like fuchsia and teal. Preachers from New Jersey to California rail at the pulpit against women who put too much fashion in their hijab. To quote one rant on a conservative Muslim Web site: “Everyday we see our Muslim sisters proudly displaying names and initials on their clothing. … What are they advertising? CD, YSL, D&G,”—as in Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Dolce & Gabbana—”How ironic that the most modest of dressing—the cloak and scarf—should become contaminated by advertising the names of some of the most shameless and perverted people in the world.”

But women will no doubt continue to thwart such dictates in a desire to look stylish while remaining pious. And it may be Muslims themselves, versed in the nuances and requirements of the hijab, who will be best equipped to introduce it to the world of high fashion. Next month, on Nov. 10, Femmes Arabes, a magazine for Arab women, will sponsor a fashion show in Montreal featuring caftans—long flowing garments popular among Muslim women in North Africa—designed by five Canadian designers and five Arab designers; it held a similar show last year. And Eve N Black, a Dubai-based boutique founded by Muslim fashion designer Mohammad Bahrami, sells abayas that cost anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 and are often displayed with matching shoes and purses. (If she spends $6,500 or more, a woman can get a copyright for her personal abaya design.)

If the Nordstrom event made one thing clear, it was that it’s not easy to combine high fashion with religion. While one woman walked away with a long orange duster sweater, women on both sides of the figurative catwalk were grumbling unhappily. A Moroccan woman found a black polka-dotted top inappropriate because of its “three-quarter-length sleeves.” Sleeves, according to the strictest standards of hijab, must extend to the wrists. A George Mason University law school student groused that a black Anne Klein skirt was “too short” because it hit the calves. A young scarved woman became frustrated that she wasn’t able to find “an A-line skirt without a slit.” And the Nordstrom cashiers mumbled to each other they weren’t ringing up enough sales. Indeed, the fashion seminar, to borrow a phrase from the fashion world, was a definite miss.