Monthly Archives: June 2013

Mrs. ShuGar’s Snapshots: Photography Homework #1

The camera is an extension of your eye. –  My Photography Teacher

Remember back in the day when our phones didn’t have cameras or we couldn’t take any digital photos?  Instead we relied on using film to take pictures and then waiting for days (or for one hour if you paid extra) to actually see the images.

I remember as a kid receiving a pink Kodak pocket Instamatic camera (those real thin ones) from my parents and feeling the urge to photograph everything in front of me. I believe it was at that time when I fell in love with shooting photos.

I want more reading!

Home Is…

When I was single, I used to take memoir writing classes and I truly loved them.  I really felt like I was in my element.  I was lucky to have some amazing teachers who inspired us to tell our stories.  One of my favorite writing assignments to help get the creative juices flowing was a ten minute free write answering this question:

What is home?

I want more reading!

Doubt Infected

Doubt Reminder

Mr. ShuGar and I are enjoying a mini-vacation visiting his family in Lansing, Michigan.  I’m so looking forward to this much-needed time off.  I really need it. This year has been a whirlwind for both of us.

I took my laptop so that I can continue blogging while away because, for me, blogging is my heart. While on the flight, I was planning on reviewing a film for this post, but I decided to go in a different direction – something more personal and raw.

Have you ever been riddled with self-doubt? Do you ever question if what you are doing is good enough?

I’m not talking about wondering if what you are wearing matches or if you should have eaten those french fries over lunch. I’m referring to that nagging voice in your head, which gnaws at your confidence.  I hate that voice.

I’m usually someone that can shut self-doubt down and move forward. However, I am human and I am having a moment. Rather than allow it to poison my thoughts, I would like to share it with you in the hope of feeling not so alone.  If you give it power over you, doubt can act like an infection and spread to different parts of your life.  Confession: I have struggled with this for most of my life. It’s not something I am proud of, but it is true and I need to acknowledge this.

What I detest about my doubt is that it really affects my sense of being, which in turn affects those around me.  It’s my own fault since my doubt is self-inflicted.  Not to offer any excuses, but I think I know what some of the catalysts are.

  • I am a perfectionist. – How many of us over-achievers aren’t, right? Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, since it has come in handy in my life. It’s the antithesis of apathy and I tend to never settle for second best. Yet, I end up beating myself up when I don’t measure up to my own expectations. I can be overly cruel to myself.  If you could only enter my brain and hear my internal dialogue, you’d be shocked I am sure. I would never tell someone the things I say to myself. It’s great to be ambitious, but I need to remind myself to be kind.
  • I compare myself to others. – I know this is so bad, but I can’t help myself sometimes.  I don’t do this all the time, but, as I previously mentioned, I have my moments when I do this and it creates an avalanche of my self-doubt. I believe competition in moderation is completely acceptable, but when you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others, you will inevitably find a deficiency. We are all unique and have different abilities and talents. It’s unfair to compare yourself to others when you end up viewing yourself as the weaker one. A little healthy competition is fine; It’s the obsessing over it which brings on the doubt monster.

I hope I am not the only one with these feelings – I think there are others like me out there.  In one of my previous writing classes, we read a great book about the struggles of artists called, The War of Art.  Many of these artistic challenges can be applicable to others who have goals and dreams in their lives.  I highly recommend this book if you have ever been afflicted with doubt.

I have no answers as to how to vaporize this self-doubt virus, except to be aware of it when it begins to take over my mind. I believe this is the first step in fighting the doubt and winning the battle.  The more you develop this awareness, the better you can take the doubt, put it in a box in your brain, lock it up and throw away that key.  We all possess the power to kill the doubt.

Photo credit: Masters Channel                                                                                                                                                                                     

Dear (Hopefully Future) ShuGar Baby: The Day We Met

Disclaimer: I am not pregnant.

I was having a conversation with someone recently and she said she wanted to write letters to her future child so that she could remember all the things she’s learned and wants her future child to benefit from knowing.  I thought this was a brilliant idea and I would like to do the same. What better platform to do it than my blog dedicated to my heart!

Mr. ShuGar and I hope to one day be blessed with a ShuGar baby. We know it’s a miracle to have a child and we pray we are lucky enough to be given this gift. In the meantime, I would like to open my heart to my future ShuGar baby and tell our baby stories and share some advice.  I also love the idea of chronicling our journey to be parents so that our child can one day hopefully read it and know our ShuGar story.

Dear ShuGar Baby:

Do you want to know how your parents met? It’s an incredible story of luck, destiny, choices and, above all else, love.  

I was looking for an additional job to earn some extra money.  I didn’t have many options because I had to find a part time job that would fit into my limited availability. After searching for months, I finally found one and was so relieved.  Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, but this job would change my life forever. Your daddy was working at this job and trained me on my duties.

However, your daddy and I didn’t initially feel love at first sight because I was in a relationship when we first met.  Plus, your daddy was busy working on his film projects so he didn’t have much time for love. Even though I was with another man when I met your daddy, I was immediately attracted to him the moment we were introduced.  Nevertheless, nothing happened for quite some time because I was deeply involved with someone else.  This someone else was not the right person for me; we had many problems, but I was too blind to see them during that time. Sometimes, you give your heart to the wrong person.

Your daddy and I only saw each other for four hours a week at that job; it’s not much time at all to get to know someone. Yet, that’s all it took. We became friends and I was drawn to your daddy’s kindness and his talent.  We liked each other from the very start. 

 At some point, my dysfunctional relationship ended and I was heartbroken.  It was one of the most difficult moments of my life – learning to let go of an unhealthy love.  Your daddy was there comforting me and listening to my heartache.  He always respected me.  You should know, not all men treat women with kindness and respect.

One of our recurring conversations between your daddy and I was about the movie The Godfather.  He couldn’t believe I had never seen the movie. You see – this is one of your daddy’s favorite movies of all time.  It was hard for him to understand how I never watched his favorite movie.  We had many talks about why he loved the movie and the importance of the film.  You know how much your daddy loves movies, right? Well, he asked me repeatedly when I was going to visit his neighborhood to watch the movie together. 

Time passed – we became closer as my heart slowly began to heal.  I was a little nervous getting involved with someone I worked with because I like to keep things professional at work.  Just like the movie says, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” At least, this is what I always told myself about dating anyone I worked with.  But, I couldn’t resist your daddy’s charm.  We had a chemistry that was undeniable and it was just a matter of time before we took our relationship to a romantic level.

One day, we finally picked a date for me to visit your daddy to watch The Godfather.  When that day came, we immediately connected and from that point forward, we began to establish our love.  We enjoyed spending time together very much.  With each date, I fell in love with your daddy more and more.  How could I not? He’s so dreamy and his heart is endlessly loving. Oh, and that smile!

I tell you this story for two reasons: 

(1) Never settle for someone you do not deserve.  Many women are afraid to leave an unhealthy relationship because of the fear of either being alone or of not finding the right mate. Regardless of these valid concerns, you need to give your heart to someone who is worthy of holding it in his/her hands.  Do not waste your time and energy with someone that does not respect you.  It will be the mistake you regret for the rest of your life.  I am proud that I was able to walk away from an unhealthy relationship. It was scary, but I finally had the courage to do it.  Always remember your worth.  

(2)  Never lose hope of finding love. You never know when love will find you. Don’t let your heartache cloud your faith in love.  You can survive a broken heart. When I met your daddy, I was not looking for love. I was completely absorbed with someone else who wasn’t the best partner for me.  I never knew that accepting that new job would bring me to the love of my life.  There is no formula to finding love; just believe and never give up. It may not be easy to find it, but you will.   Finding and choosing your true love are important choices you will make it your life.  Choose wisely and do not despair. Love will find its way into your life when you probably least expect it.

Turns out, it was always personal and not business.  I fell in love with your daddy because I allowed myself to make it personal and not strictly business.  I opened my heart to the possibility of loving and trusting someone again.  Life is about these personal choices and connections we make. It’s why we live and it is why we love.

We love you, ShuGar Baby.

Photo credit: Gabriel Suarez

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Feeling Nude

You know when you have those days when you want to just “be”? There is no need for too much of anything because you only want to feel simple and classic.

The older I get, the more comfortable I am in my own skin, regardless of the vulnerability associated with this exposure.  In my 30’s, I have acquired a sense of empowerment knowing that I have embodied my true self. I am me and I make no excuses for all that I am. I am a work-in-progress when it comes to my weaknesses, and I understand my strengths. More importantly, I love me and I am not interested in having anyone in my life who doesn’t treat me with respect.

Well, I have been gravitating towards more nude and blush tones when it comes to my fashion choices.  But, of course, it wouldn’t be my style without a touch of sparkle.  In this case, a sprinkle of gold adds just enough glamour. Behold my nude inspiration board inspired by the center picture of a woman dripping in gorgeous nude fashion.

|1| Sequin Bolero |2| Ban.Do Sparkle Headband |3| Kate Spade Gold Handbag |4| BCBG Nude Sunglasses   |5| Betsey Johnson Bow Studs |6| Laura Mercier Naked Lip Pencil  |7| Laura Mercier Nude Lip Color |8| Kate Spade “Terry” Flat  |9| “Karissa” Pump |10|  Blush Blouse |11| Top Shop Organza Dress

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Book Club Nominees – Round 2

Mr. ShuGar and I recently joined a book club with two other couples. I reviewed our first book club choice here.  These couples are close friends of ours and we are really enjoying being a part of a group of book nerds, like ourselves. I am so impressed with how smart our friends are. They are extremely expressive and said the most insightful things about our last book.  So inspiring!  I also just love being held accountable to read a great book, and then to have a platform to discuss it among friends. How often do we get a chance to share our thoughts after you read a book?

We’ve already completed our first book club round when we read and discussed Blankets by Craig Thompson. Mr. ShuGar and I were the hosts and we had lots of fun planning the dialogue and activities around the themes of the book. There were literal and figurative blankets involved in our first book club meeting 🙂

I would like to share the nominees for our second book club round. They are:

  1. Glaciers By: Alexis Smith
  2. Gone Girl By: Gillian Flynn
  3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? By: Mindy Kaling
  4. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls By: David Sedaris
  5. Oryx and Crake By: Margaret Atwood
  6. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – but Some Don’t By: Nate Silver
  7. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War By: Max Brooks

And the book club winner is………..

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls By: David Sedaris

Once we have our next book club meeting in the next few months, I will share my personal review of the book. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy your summer reading with any (or all) of the nominees. I also invite you to share your thoughts about any of the books, but please no spoilers!

Happy reading and Happy Friday!

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Mrs. ShuGar vs. Gardening

That Jasmine

Gardening is not my thing. I have so much respect for those with a green thumb, but it’s just never been my forte. Now that my life is slowing down a bit, Mr. ShuGar and I have decided to make improvements to our house, little by little. One of the first projects has been to beautify our garden by creating a hedge in our backyard. With the help of my daddy, we planted a series of privets and jasmines along our wall so that eventually we could have some nice privacy from our neighbors.

The planting project was successful and we have maintained a strict watering regime to ensure that the plants establish roots. I don’t have a clue how long it would take for these small plants to grow month to month. All I know is that we have been diligently watering and waiting for new leaves to sprout. Most have new growth – Most, except this one stubborn jasmine.

Now, in its defense, it was smaller than the other newly planted jasmines. My daddy had already been watering the other jasmines weeks before our project, but we decided to buy one more last minute.  Ever since that day, I’ve watched it struggle compared to the other plants. At some point, it even appeared to be digressing! What?

Patience is not something I have tons of. I am someone that wants immediate results. I admit this is a definite weakness. Plus, gardening is not a natural hobby of mine so I sort of was expecting instant growth since I was making an effort on my end. It was an unspoken pact between me and these plants; I water, you grow. They all appeared to be complying, except this one belligerent, tiny jasmine. Over a month had passed and still not much progress, at least not until today.

Take a look at the picture. If you look closely, you can see new leaves sprouting! There is an especially beautiful one at the very top. Finally! I think I’m learning what gardening is all about: learning to appreciate growth, even when it’s not apparent to the naked eye. It’s about having faith that your efforts are making a difference and will be fruitful one day.

No wonder I never gravitated towards gardening; I have struggled with this my entire life.  I see this challenge still manifested in many areas of my life.

  • I want to move forward in my career quickly. I am motivated, dedicated and work extremely hard. I would like to ascend the career ladder, sooner rather than later. However, there is growth in learning my current position and becoming an expert in my responsibilities. I can grow in other ways to prepare me for my next role, eventually.
  • I want to immerse myself in blogging. I love it so much and I want to be successful at it. Yet, even though it has been a dream of mine for quite a long time, I have just started this journey. I can’t expect to have a million followers with the click of my “publish” button. I need to understand that I am growing daily because I am finally giving myself the avenue to write. This is already a huge leap in my life-long passion. I need to have faith that my words will touch someone in the blog world.
  • I wish I could be like the TV mom from “Bewitched” and make all sorts of home improvements with the twitch of my nose. There are so many things I’d like to do for our house, but there is not enough time or money to do so. I would like to learn to appreciate the little things we can do and accept these as significant improvements.
  • We would like to have a ShuGar baby, but it turns out it’s not that easy. I remember as a little girl thinking that as soon as you want a baby, poof, you will get pregnant! Ha! That’s SO not reality. I have to believe that our time will come and to be patient until it does. There is no point in stressing out about the “what ifs.” It’s out of our hands.

My baby jasmine serves as a metaphor for the aforementioned aspects of my life I would like to achieve. It’s about endurance, perseverance and faith. I need to keep nurtering these dreams of mine and give them time to establish roots. I must remember this because I let my impatience take over and cloud my judgment too often.  Gardening is actually really relaxing. It sort of forces you to appreciate the silence.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you finally see a tiny leaf pop out. It is a physical magnification that your love and hard work inspired new life.

Photo credit: Mrs. ShuGar

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Dotty Madness

Polka Dots!

I just can’t get enough of them these days and below is a fashion photo session as proof of my addiction to dots. Mr. ShuGar took some beautiful pictures of my dotty obsessions in one of our favorite neighborhoods, Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach.

Due to the outdoor bright light, it may be hard to tell in some pictures, but I am wearing pink polka dot pants in these next couple of photos. I would have normally shied away from pink and polka dots, but they are just too cute. These pants are from the Gap (see below for details) and they are on sale now! What I am loving about the current prints trend is the actual mixing of prints. Gone are the days when you could only wear one part of our outfit with a crazy pattern. Now, it’s all about mixing up prints!

Window Curve

I chose to wear this navy lace top with the pink polka dot pants. I enjoy the look of the color contrasts – hard and soft.

Striped Wall

As with any outfit, I like to have fun with my accessories. I am wearing a pink pom pom from one of the cutest stores: Ban.do. I discovered this online store when I was searching for wedding veils and I’ve been hooked ever since! They just have such lovely accessories, and whenever I look at their website I’m like a kid in a candy store!

The final touch was the handbag. My bags tend to be heavier, but I welcome a nice shoulder bag that has a heart on it (You know how I feel about hearts!). This handbag is from Forever 21 and unfortunately it’s sold out, but there are plenty of others similar to this. You might also try Top Shop.

Back Striped Wall

Series #1: |Gap Pink Polka Dot Pants|  |Target Lace Blouse|  |Ban.Do Metallic Pink Pom Pom Flower|  |Forever 21 Shoulder Bag| |Forever 21 Cat Eye Sunglasses

Our next trip was to Intelligentsia Cafe to grab a cup of coffee and take a break. For work, I use this teal messenger bag I bought from Amazon and I can’t tell you how many compliments it inspires. Adorable faux buttons line the front flap and then inside there is an additional surprise….polka dots! Love!

 

Messenger Inside Messenger Outside

Series #2: |Teal Messenger Bag|

Amazon has all sorts of fun computer accessories. I wanted to change out my old MacBook Air blue hard case, for something spunkier. I found this adorable polka dot skin and it’s so whimsical. Perfect for my style!

Full Body Laptop Close Up Laptop

Series #3: |Macbook Air Polka Dot Skin|

The second outfit change was for something more formal; something more appropriate for work. Palazzo pants look so sexy and you feel sexy with them on. They can be worn with flats or with platforms, and they just exude an air of elegance. I purchased these dotty palazzo pants from Target.

Full View Brick Wall

Remember I mentioned mixing prints? Here’s another example of this.  I paired my polka dot palazzo pants with a yellow and white striped blouse from New York & Company.

Close Up Brick Wall

Denim is back, in case you haven’t heard! I love to use it whenever I can. I thought a denim blazer would look great with the navy palazzo pants. Any jean jacket in your closet will work!

Finally, I couldn’t resist wearing my  favorite heart-shaped sunnies.

Laughing Shades

Series #4:  |Target Polka Dot Palazzo Pants|  |New York & Company Striped Button Blouse|

Some other fun polka dot accessories are below. I recently re-styled our bathroom and chose to go with a polka dot shower curtain, similar to the one seen below from Target. I also just purchased the Samsung Galaxy 4 and ordered this cell phone case from Amazon.

Extra-Dots-Background

Extra Polka Dot Goodies:|#5: Target Polka Dot Shower Curtain|  |#6: Polka Dot Samsung Galaxy 4 Case|

As you can see, I am mad for polka dots! I hope you can enjoy them as much as I do.

All photos taken by Peter Shushtari

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We

we black

My two-year wedding anniversary is only a few months away. I can’t believe how fast the time has passed. I have so many things I’d like to discuss about marriage on my blog.  I have learned so much and I know I have still much more to learn. I do not proclaim to be any kind of expert at all.  Nevertheless, I would love to use my blog as a platform to explore my marriage journey with my lovely readers and also hear from others and their experiences.

Something important I try to remember in my marriage: “we” does not replace “I”, although people may advise you otherwise.  This does not mean that at times the “we” must supersede the “I.” After all, compromise is key to any healthy relationship. With Mr. ShuGar, this is sort of a non-issue since we both encourage and support each other’s personal endeavors. I want him to spend time with his friends without me. I want him to pursue his art, even if it takes up quality time from “we” on the weekends.  He wants me to go to Zumba. He wants me to blog.  However, I have to continually remind myself of this because I sometimes feel guilty when I take time for myself. I shouldn’t since this guilt is self-imposed, but I do on occasion. In our ShuGar world, the “I” is the foundation of any healthy “we.”

Just the other day, I had a revealing “we” moment with Mr. ShuGar. We were in a rush to eat dinner after work because we were going to a screening of Lost in Translation with none other than Sofia Coppola in person. You can read about my Sofia obsession here.  After we parked and started walking a few blocks to the restaurant, I realized I had forgotten the movie tickets in my car. Instead of wasting time with both of us running back to the car, we decided to split up.  I would get us a table at the restaurant and Mr. ShuGar would grab our tickets.

And then it happened. He quickly said, ”Just order me something you think I would like. Surprise me.” My jaw nearly dropped to the sidewalk. I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know Mr. ShuGar trusted me THAT much to order his meal. That’s a lot of responsibility and pressure to get it right. I should know; I am ultra picky when it comes to food. If I am hungry, if I eat crappy Mexican food, or if I don’t like the taste of anything, I get in my infamous food mood. Warning! Stay Away.

Yet, without any hesitation, Mr. ShuGar entrusted me with his dinner and off he went to fetch our tickets.  I quickly got to the restaurant and ordered for “we.” When Mr. ShuGar finally came back, he told me to keep his order a secret until the server would bring his food. He wanted to truly be surprised! Amazing! I don’t think I could handle such a surprise. I am such a control freak with my food. It’s too personal. Not for Mr. ShuGar. He believed 100% that I knew what he wanted in that very moment.

I admit I was a little nervous the whole time, waiting for the food to come, as I wondered if I had made the right choice. Did he really want that? Well, the server brought his BLT and corn on the cob and Mr. ShuGar was in food heaven. I did well. I ordered exactly what he really wanted. In that moment, I felt proud. Proud not only to have made him happy, but proud that we have reached an intimate level in our marriage. I know his heart and he knows mine. I listen to his wants because I value who he is.  The same is true when it comes to me.  I admire the type of “we” we have become.  It has sometimes been a jagged road to get to this point, but we are here.

In marriage, if you cherish the “I’s” in the relationship, the depth of “we” will naturally grow.  I look forward to discovering more about the sweetheart I married.

What have you learned about the “we” and “I” in your relationship?

Hands

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Bottom photo credit: Ashley Rose Photography

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal-Sunshine-of-the-Spotless-Mind-movie-poster

What if you could erase all your bad memories?

Charlie Kaufman’s brilliant script for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is pure poetry on film as it explores this very question with its two leading characters – Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel (Jim Carrey). There is nothing that  compares to the artistry of this film; It exists in a global sphere outside of all other films. It defines originality and creativity.

I saw the film for the second time only recently and I grew even more fond of it, with the help of Mr. ShuGar’s guidance. It’s as if you are opening a present and unraveling all the layers to get to the best part. With Kaufman’s words, you are transported into a world where dreams and memories hold so much value and power, yet with one simple decision, they can be eradicated from your brain.

When I first saw this movie, I felt a little lost. As in many of Kaufman’s films, they are not linear, not traditional. However, once I understood this and let go of my preconceived notions of what a film should do, I was immersed in Clementine and Joel’s love story. It’s so relatable – it’s the story of many relationships. When you first meet, everything is great. Passion abounds, all seems fresh and intriguing as you begin to fall in love with your partner. Yet, as time passes, things you used to love about the person may become stale – they no longer capture your attention in a positive way. Instead, you feel annoyed when your partner does that thing s/he does. Worst case scenario, your love rots and the relationship is doomed.

Joel: I don’t see anything I don’t like about you.
Clementine: But you will! But you will, and I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped, because that’s what happens with me.

Eternal Sunshine begins right at the cusp of the stale-meets-rotten stage of Clementine & Joel’s relationship. The movie intercuts between the “first” time they meet and the current unraveling state of their relationship. Clementine, staying true to her impulsivity, decides to go through with a medical procedure to eradicate all memories of Joel. Joel, in response to Clementine’s drastic behavior, proceeds with the same procedure. This leads to a series of events where you watch Joel’s memories slowly fading away, while Joel and Clementine are desperately trying to cling on to any remnant of their love.

This movie is a visual feast for the eyes – it captures memories in the quirkiest ways. Not to mention I am obsessed with Clementine’s hair! Oh, I just adore the nicknames they each have for each other – to Joel, Clementine is “Clem” and to Clementine, Joel is  “Joely”.  You know you have reached a level of intimacy when you have unique nicknames for each other. As if the movie needed any more greatness, Jon Brion’s music is perfection. “His music also conjures a mix of sentimental memories with surreal qualities.” (Mr. ShuGar’s two cents!) Thanks to my uncle, I discovered the genius of Jon Brion years ago. I believe you can still see him live in LA these days. Brion provides the perfect score to depict the agony and splendor of love.

One of the fundamental issues raised in the film is this idea of loving the good and accepting the bad when it comes to memories. We can’t always have heavenly moments in life; life is filled with those times when you cry, you hurt and you regret, especially when it comes to relationships. Crying, hurting and regretting sort of come with the territory. Yet, they are a part of you. Without them, you would feel empty because these memories have shaped you.

Embrace the eternal sunshine in the life you lead. It’s all yours and you’d miss it if you didn’t have it, even the tiniest memory of your life.

P.S. I am a big fan of minimalist movie posters, like those above! Mrs. ShuGAr Signature1