An Attitude of Gratitude

While Thanksgiving 2021 arrived and left, the spirit in which Thanksgiving shines a light on the ideal of living in gratitude is highly important. Beyond a holiday that brings families and friends together, focusing on having a general attitude of gratitude in your life should be a priority. For myself, I leaned into this practice more intensely when the pandemic began to weigh down on the world and it almost began feeling like a chore to ‘think positively,’ under such bleak and dire circumstances. I do believe there is such a thing as toxic positivity, where making ‘lemonade out of lemons’ takes a higher toll than the actual reward. Sometimes you need to see a spade for a spade and call it as such. It’s important to keep a realistic mindset always, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve everything you dream about and more. The first step to really initializing how you reset your mindset (there should always be a mindset shift) when you pursue a new goal is to recognize how much you already have. For example, when I am motivated to work on my fitness goals, I think “I am grateful that I am healthy and physically able to exercise like this” rather than seeing any barriers to what I am hoping to achieve. If you enter your life everyday with an attitude of abundance, it’s as simple as recognizing that the day itself is actually a gift and we can never replicate the current day we are in again, you are also believing that your attitude of abundance will help you. Understanding the depth of gratitude and its power means you are equipped to stay motivated to know you are capable of going after what is perceived as “I don’t have.” It’s the psychology of knowing “I have” versus “I do not have.” Awareness is a critical part of gratitude. Being aware of what you have enables you to tap into recognizing how much you do have. The law of attraction plays a critical role in all of our lives. If you begin manifesting what you do not have as what you are going to have in your mind, instead of focusing on the not having it, you are well on your way to achievement! This is the concept of manifestation in practice.

On a much deeper and more existential level, the idea that we are not serving our own path per se, but that we are part of something much larger which is occurring in the universe is a deeply humbling and mystical thing. I believe that connecting with the idea of the ‘we actually don’t really know everything that’s out there in the universe’ can be empowering, because too often we can fall into a mindset of ‘I know I can’t have this or that,’ well… in reality, if we don’t fully know everything about the universe, then how could you possibly think that your individual life has such limitations? Each of us are the universe in a fragment. I personally think that it is likely we are not meant to know everything that is going on in the universe. If humanity knew everything about the universe, then we would be limiting our own possibilities, because ‘knowing everything’ is technically like a quantity. However, the universe’s possibilities are likely not quantifiable for a reason I believe.

There is an adorable Audrey Hepburn quote that quantifies this philosophy well:

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible” 

I’m possible is literally inside the word ‘impossible.’ As coincidental as that may be, it’s a fabulous way of recognizing how we are part of our own limitations sometimes through our attitudes. If we confront life with a deep gratitude for the gift of our life, for the people in our lives and for the opportunities which we can pursue, in whatever form that may be, we are on a path to living deeply enriching lives. While success may be determined in society by the ideals of capital gains and wealth accumulation and the idea that ‘being above’ someone else is enabled because of this, that is a mentality everyone should shed. The Earth itself is suffering from that mentality – climate change is one result. The best motivation is a deep intrinsic motivation that we can all tap into once we have focused on how much there is to be grateful for.

Each day I write a journal entry in a notebook that is a page filled of what I am grateful for. It can be anything, such as “I am grateful for another day,” or “I am grateful I am aware,” or even “I am grateful for this moment.” There is always something to be grateful for. If you maintain this, you will cultivate a deep sense of joy.

As large and expansive as the observable Universe is, it’s still finite, with a finite amount of information to teach us. Beyond that, the ultimate cosmic truths still remain unknown to us.

How Far Is It To The Edge Of The Universe?

Holiday Gift Guide 2021

Each year on Rosy BVM, I put together a selection of unique items that I suggest as a holiday gift guide. This year, I have searched and found items which fall into the realm of fantastical or fairytale as a theme. While we may face so much unprecedented hardship in the world, there are ways to cultivate goodness. This begins with supporting inspirational nonprofits and brands, and staying inspired yourself. This is rosy… The most unique of all items for this year’s gift guide is the opportunity to help replant coral reefs with Coral Gardeners, an organization that works to replant and successfully regrow corals. This is a rosy endeavor, as are the other items, which have unique and personal significance in some way. Always remember that you are in part controlling your destiny, so your “Once Upon A Time” is also how you want to see the world… Infuse love into everything! This holiday season, we must see that more than ever.

Coral Gardeners

Adopt A Coral – Pocillopora Verrucosa (You can select a digital or print image of the coral that you are helping to have regrown. If you have opt for a digital image, you can have the coral named.)

Fiori Couture

Victorian Trading Co.

Masquerade Mask Design

Venetian Masquerade Mask Arco Strass & Venetian Masquerade Mask Barocco Fuoco Gold

Fragmentation and Human Connection in a Digital World

Despite living in a world which displays chaos, division, and fragmentation in a digital world as a norm, we are truly more connected than we may realize. Rather than passively consuming the ‘news of a global world,’ we can play a more active role in shaping our community outcomes on micro scales than we may often think about. There are scalable positive outcomes for communities all over the world when people commit to their communities. While we may not determine every outcome in our lives, we each play a role in shaping the outcomes of our collective communities without a doubt. We are a piece of a larger whole in any situation. This is ultimately what social responsibility entails (and furthermore, the concept of CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility which has become a policy norm for businesses but has much to expand in).

Community Involvement Is Critical

Humans are social beings, we are not meant to feel disconnected, which the COVID-19 pandemic has shown far too many how devastating the impact of isolation can be. Community involvement has a more critical role to play than the ‘mere socialization’ that is necessary for a person’s health (which is critical for overall health). The health of communities is determined by the individual relationships which shapes it. This occurs and is displayed in nature. When I interviewed UC Davis postdoctoral researcher about his PhD research on ant behaviors, Dr. Daniel Ari Friedman, he stated that “Our research [on ant colonies] was some of the first that looked at how epigenetic and neurophysiological variation among ant colonies was associated with collective behavioral differences in natural settings.” Essentially, he is sharing that ant colony health is determined both by environmental factors and by the behavioral differences in how they respond to environmental changes. Essentially, being responsive and highly adaptive enables survival. This concept can be applied to community life more generally and how we play a role in supporting ourselves and our communities. Furthermore, this theory connects to networks (in technology) and complex systems theory more generally.

What Is Rhizomatic Theory? Why Does It Matter?

As a student at UC Davis I became familiar with Rhizomatic Theory, a theory by French philosophers, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. In short, the rhizome represents a thought structure that is a metaphor for networks and connection: rhizomes (mushrooms) pop up at random. Nature reflects back to us a physical manifestation of thought.  Nature’s image is a reflection back to us as we are (for example, think about how we have damaged the Earth and we are now seeing the effects of this human generated damage on the earth in more catastrophic climate change events than ever).  If we show love, we see love reflected back to us.  The Rhizome itself, as a theory, is an image of a thought. It is a social map and a representation of all networks, similar to how neural networks operate in the brain.  

By comparison to this theory, Plato’s concept of the ‘tree theory’ is a well known concept that is rooted in the idea that all thoughts grow like a tree grows. Yet, the tree is a separate entity from other trees, so I believe Plato’s theory was incorrect in regards to the natural manifestation of ideas.  Deleuze believed that thoughts occur like rhizomes (mushrooms) and and we are part of an interconnected social map of rhizomes.  In rhizomatic theory, we are truly all one connected entity and there is no beginning or end in that framework.  We are all connected, we are not as divided as we appear. This theory can be applied in unending ways – for our community involvement, in technology, etc.

Empowering Human Connection + Networks Enabling This

If we recognize that our individual outcomes are tied in a way to the overall health of our communities, we all stand to live in a world that can be better equipped to manage and survive through growing climate disasters etc. Mutual cooperation, tolerance, and respecting differences serves our own interests more than people will readily admit. The concept of the individual and the individual’s imperatives should always be valued, but a sense of social duty to one’s community, in its purest, loving form is also natural (i.e. the maternal and paternal instincts). As Eckhart Tolle writes about how shedding the ego to recognize the awareness of the human condition as a temporary state, we stand to gain more in our shared narrative of being human. Our communities, across a multitude of spaces, serve as networks for positive connection if we consciously cultivate it. There is a reason that we teach “sharing is caring.” Sharing is caring and our collective survival might depend on it.

Spooky & Groovy: Scooby-Doo!

We are officially in spooky season in the lead up to Halloween! The 1960’s TV hit, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? first released in 1969 is a perfect combination of spooky and groovy… the show is not exactly scary, but it’s a little spooky and a lot of groovy! Scooby-Doo is the perfect vibe for this Halloween season indeed. Even the ghosts in Scooby-Doo seem to be dancing! There is so much to appreciate about how this show is rooted in wholesome fun. From the classic Mystery Machine van to the adventurous isles of mysterious haunted houses, the backdrops and settings of Scooby-Doo are adorable and exciting!

Beyond the unique settings of Scooby-Doo (how cute is Crystal Cove?) and fun characters, there is an interesting back story. When writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears wrote the show in the late 60’s, there was intense political unrest at the time in the US. Its intended purpose was focused on being a source of joy (and light heartedness) during dark times. While Scooby-Doo will always entertain, it does seem to especially resonate today as we continue to be in a global pandemic. The original broadcast was on CBS from 1969 – 1974. Despite the era’s dark points, it was also a groovy and special time in history, which I think Scooby-Doo reflects so wonderfully. The show was ranked by TV Guide as being the ‘5th greatest TV cartoon of all time.’

The sequencing of each show is structured and predictable, but not too repetitive in storyline. For example, “every episode of the original Scooby-Doo format contains a penultimate scene in which the heroes unmask the seemingly supernatural antagonist to reveal a real person in a costume.” (Wikipedia). This tactic is especially adorable because it removes the fear factor related to the antagonist (evil character) and shows the viewers that there is nothing left to fear. The show reaches a natural resolution in each episode in a way that is both clever and fun! That sequencing is ultimately what makes Scooby-Doo so enjoyable. We all need to remember, we can always make life fun! Whether you identify with Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, or Fred, there is definitely a Halloween costume idea for you, too.

Fashion Icon: Emilio Pucci

Pucci lived a tremendous life. Not all of it was as glamorous as what his designs are, but what remains is a timeless legacy, and that is rosy.

American actress Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962) wearing a peacock-patterned Pucci dress, Beverly Hills, California, July 1962. The two sessions for the photoshoot took place in late June and early July, only weeks before her death on 5th August 1962. The images were published posthumously in Vogue magazine under the title ‘The Last Sitting’. (Photo by Bert Stern/Getty Images)
NASA’s Apollo 15 mission logo design by Emilio Pucci
Pucci’s wife, Cristina Nannini
Palazzo Pucci in Florence

References: Wikipedia & 5 Minute Fashion – Emilio Pucci

Amphitrite: Goddess of the Sea

Amphitrite (1866), by François Théodore Devaulx (1808-1870). North façade of the Cour Carrée in the Louvre, Paris.

We typically associate Venus as the Goddess born of the sea (Salacia is Amphitrite’s Roman name, as Venus’s equivalent in Greek is Aphrodite), however, Amphitrite, is technically the Goddess of the Sea and wife of Poseidon. Her title is also “Queen of the Sea” in classical mythology. Amphitrite was one of the sea nymphs, Nereids, having fifty sisters in total… Poseidon fell in love with her when he saw her dancing and singing with her sisters. The story that Poseidon chose Amphitrite for his wife is unique because she was initially not enticed to be taken as Poseidon’s wife. She only agreed when he sent a dolphin for her… According to Greek Mythology, she was initially considered a major figure as she was mentioned in the Homeric Hymn at the birth of Apollo.

Amphitrite was actually a minor figure, which is likely what created her lesser status in comparison to Venus. Also, it’s quite undeniable that artworks such as Bernini’s The Birth of Venus elevated Venus to a different level in our collective cultural psyche. Poseidon and Amphitrite had a son, Triton, who was a merman (in popular culture, you are probably familiar with “King Triton” as the father of The Little Mermaid). Whether or not the Queen of the Sea is considered a minor or major figure in Greek Mythology, it is certainly worth noting her existence as Venus dominates amongst the goddesses.

Roman mosaic on a wall in the House of Neptune and Amphitrite, Herculaneum, Italy.

Amphitrite, in Greek mythology, the goddess of the sea, wife of the god Poseidon, and one of the 50 (or 100) daughters (the Nereids) of Nereus and Doris (the daughter of Oceanus). Poseidon chose Amphitrite from among her sisters as the Nereids performed a dance on the isle of Naxos. Refusing his offer of marriage, she fled to Atlas, from whom she was retrieved by a dolphin sent by Poseidon. Amphitrite then returned, becoming Poseidon’s wife; he rewarded the dolphin by making it a constellation. In works of art Amphitrite was represented either enthroned beside Poseidon or driving with him in a chariot drawn by sea horses or other fabulous sea creatures. In the famous François Vase (a 6th-century BC black-figure krater; see Kleitias), Poseidon and Amphitrite, along with Zeus and Hera, attend the wedding of Peleus and Thetis.

Support the USO

Ever since I can remember, I have been a proud American. I will always be a proud American. America provides endless opportunities for people, it is viewed as a land of freedom and opportunity for a reason. However, this land of ‘anything is possible’ comes at a price. Our service members sometimes give their lives to their country in dedication to our country’s mission and vision. We can never forget that kind of selfless dedication to country and we must also remember that now, more than ever, we must continue supporting veterans and current service members in our military. I have the utmost respect for those who serve in our military and support the USO’s mission.

According to the USO, since 1941, the USO has been the nation’s leading organization to serve the men and women in the U.S. military, and their families, throughout their time in uniform. From the moment they join, through their assignments and deployments, and as they transition back to their communities, the USO is always by their side.

Today’s USO continuously adapts to the needs of our men and women in uniform and their families, so they can focus on their very important mission. The USO operates centers at or near military installations across the United States and throughout the world, including in combat zones, and even un-staffed USO service sites in places too dangerous for anyone but combat troops to occupy. The USO is not part of the federal government. A congressionally chartered, private organization, the USO relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations to support its activities, and is powered by a family of volunteers to accomplish our mission of connection.

Just prior to the onset of America’s involvement in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought to unite several service associations into one organization to lift the morale of our military and nourish support on the home front. Those entities – the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, National Catholic Community Services, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board – became the United Service Organizations or, the USO.

USO Tours

A hallmark of the USO is its famous USO tours, bringing celebrities to entertain the troops. Perhaps most iconic was the dedication in which Bob Hope had to serving tours. Marilyn Monroe was also an iconic entertainer to sing to the troops in Korea in 1954. USO tours technically launched the career of Anita Ekberg, who had been invited to replace Marilyn by Bob Hope. This gave Anita the press needed to launch an entertainment career. While the USO serves troops, it has also launched careers!

The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country, throughout their service to the nation.

Thank a military member you know and support your troops!

Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic

Jessica Simpson’s Beverly Hills home was designed by Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture.
Pamela Anderson’s waterfront Malibu home is also decorated with Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture.

A distinct ‘lived in’ quality with a mantra of beauty, comfort, and function is what distinguishes the iconic brand Shabby Chic Couture by Rachel Ashwell. Celebrities like Jessica Simpson and Pamela Anderson have devoted entire homes in Los Angeles to this aesthetic and have allowed Ms. Ashwell to bring her design movement into their homes. Shabby Chic style has become an aesthetic movement. Most recently, it’s been punctuated by “Cottagecore” style, but shabby chic has been around for a long time, and it is Rachel Ashwell’s brand which has brought the joy of beauty and imperfection into the homes of so many since 1989.

Shabby Chic style is well worth studying because it brings us back to basics! Ms. Ashwell has written numerous books (below), most recently the adorable “Rachel Ashwell’s Painted Stories: Vintage, decorating, thoughts, and whimsy” released in April 2021. The images that she presents are a wonderful inspiration for how you can begin to think about where shabby chic style fits into your life. There are layers to this style and there are ways to personalize the aesthetic to lean into your favorite look! For example, I adore the color pink, so I would lean into shades of pink and anything that reminds me of ballet. Whereas, you could lean into pale blue instead if you prefer shades of pale blue to be the dominant color. In this way, you could add shells and have more of a nautical theme. You can also do this for different areas of your home or do themed rooms. Pinterest has unending ideas for DIY shabby chic decorations which can complement pieces you purchase.

There are no real rules to shabby chic, aside from the general vintage aesthetic melting well together. Something I find particularly appealing about the brand is the fact that it’s a merging together of proper British style with laidback California style. Ms. Ashwell’s upbringing is fascinating: her father was an antique books dealer and her mother was an antique doll seller. She grew up a Bohemian childhood in London. Her extensive experience with maneuvering flee markets was essential in recognizing value in certain pieces and moving quickly when you know that a piece is special or fits the aesthetic that you are building in your home. To me, shabby chic style is all about aesthetic appeal combined with functionality. First and foremost, you are living in your home! Make the most out of how it looks with a whimsical, fairytale appeal (even if you are on a budget) and maximize function at the same time.

Here is a list of some of my favorite items with whimsy that Shabby Chic is currently selling:

Books by Rachel Ashwell

Marie Taglioni: The First Ballerina En Pointe

Marie Taglioni, the Comtesse de Voisins, lived from 1804-1884. She was the first ballerina to truly dance en pointe. She was Swedish born and spent the majority of her life in the Austrian Empire and France, which were the origins of ballet (especially regarding ballet’s early Italian origins). Her father, Italian Filipo Taglioni, was a choreographer and her mother was a Swedish ballet dancer, Sophie Karsten. Her brother was also a dancer and choreographer. This family was dedicated to an incredible art form a very long time ago. Her father was the ballet master of the court opera in Vienna, where she began her dancing career. She spent four hours each day dancing ballet – two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.

When her father created the ballet, La Sylphide (1832), it was the first ballet to be danced en pointe and had integrated a range of arm motions, as well. She danced for numerous ballet companies (the early origins), including Her Majesty’s Theatre in London and the Paris Opera Ballet. Her personal life beyond her dancing career is fascinating. In 1835, she married Comte Auguste Gilbert de Voisins, but they separated in 1836. She later fell in love with a loyal fan who defended her honor in a duel. She gave birth the following year to a child with her fan, Eugene Desmares. The following year, he died in a hunting accident. By 1842, Taglioni gave birth to a second child. The father is unknown, though the birth certificate states her first husband as the father (out of formality). She retired from dancing in 1847 and she settled in Venice, Italy at the Palazzo Santa Sofia on the Grand Canal. She also spent time teaching dance in England – she resided in London from 1875-1876. In 1884, Taglioni passed away in Marseille the day before her 80th birthday. Local dancers left pointe shoes in her honor on Montmartre (where she is supposedly buried as it is speculated that may not be her burial site).

Marie played an integral role in the development of ballet. What would ballet be without pointe shoes?

The Palazzo Santa Sofia, the home of Marie Taglioni in Venice.

My Ballet Journey

For 11 years growing up, I danced ballet. When I say I danced ballet, I danced ballet. Between the ages of 3 and 14, I was trained pre-professionally in a well respected school, attending classes up to five days a week for a few hours a day (when I was an advanced dancer and reached pointe shoes). I was on the precipice of taking my dancing to the ‘final level’ at my ballet school if I were to have auditioned to join the ‘company.’ I loved ballet and I still love ballet, but it’s a new kind of love. For a variety of reasons, that were ultimately for the best, I stopped dancing when I was 14. It was an emotional crossroads to be at, since so much of my life had been spent dancing. I danced seasonally in The Nutcracker, which was eight productions over the span of four days for five straight years each Christmas. My last role (and favorite role) was being one of the ‘party girls,’ dancing with a doll underneath the Christmas tree. I was constantly in rehearsals for it every Fall, and much of my life became very routine, but it was a routine that I lived for and I was lucky to have support for. My mother waited endless hours for me to finish ballet class. When I stopped, it was an awakening of sorts to shift gears and find new interests and passions that were outside of my studies in school. Since I had spent so much of my life dancing, I had excitement back then to find new passions. Ultimately, it was a good time for me to stop dancing at the pace I was dancing. The ways in which ballet shaped me by ingraining qualities of dedication, discipline, athleticism and also establishing a strong work ethic and openness to feedback and growth, have all been catalysts for the good in my life.

I recently started dancing again for myself (very lightly) and have found so much joy in this. I can’t pinpoint the exact thing that prompted me to, but I was reflecting to myself how dance was always a great form of exercise for me and also a way to destress as I focused my mind on improving positions and taking my technique to new levels. I still have so much of the basic framework of my ballet technique to this day and I am now an adult. I am proud that I have finally reached a point in my life where I can have a balanced relationship with ballet, where I am not pressuring myself to always go further and further in my technique, but to enjoy the movements and also gain back a lot of my ballet strength, flexibility and balance in the process. I often think about how George Balanchine’s method shaped me. Balanchine was one of the great ballet masters… I think that much of my experience pushing myself to improve in my dancing was shaped by the Balanchine method, which I highly recommend if you are interested in studying the various styles and methods. American ballet has been greatly shaped by him. His method is utilized at the New York City Ballet (opened 1948) and School of American Ballet (opened 1934), schools that he founded. He also influenced the San Francisco Ballet, which was the first ballet school in the country (opened in 1933).

The Balanchine style is characterized by the following qualities:

  • extreme speed and very deep plié
  • emphasis on line, with use of unconventional, asymmetrical, abstract arm and hand placement
  • pirouettes en dehors taken from a lunge in fourth position rather than the conventional plié in fourth
  • distinctive arabesque line with the hip open to the audience and the side arm pressed back
  • athletic dance quality
The great ballet master, George Balanchine.

Ballet dancers, on an existential level, all ‘serve a higher purpose.’ There is nothing more gratifying in this life than to find a deeper meaning than the shallow and egoistic traps that society sets forth for so many. I have found that was ultimately what kept driving me forward as a dancer in my adolescence, whether I was consciously aware of it or not. I certainly am now. I can take this awareness and enjoy dancing in its recreational form (without the hopes and dreams of dancers who, often like Olympians, live for a few short moments on stage which can be shattered by a slight shift in the body that did not allow the movement to reach aesthetic perfection or an injury that happened in the blink of an eye). Support the arts by attending a ballet if you can, the amount of passion and love that people share in ballet goes deep.