how to build a life doing what you love
how to build a life doing what you love
The Alchemy of Hustle loves to celebrate stories of individuals who are living their passion, being true to themselves and who are master’s of their craft. Recently I watched the documentary Bill Cunningham New York, and went into celebration overload. I highly recommend the watch.
Bill Cunningham is a photographer for the New York Times; On the Street and Evening Hours columns. He cycles around Manhattan and captures street style from the people of the city “the best fashion show is definitely on the street, always has been always will be” (BC). He is courted by high society and spends his evenings attending parties, openings and functions, snapping away. ”Bill has chronicled the intersection of fashion, society and culture in New York for over fifty years like an anthropologist… Bill’s rigorous work ethic, his joy and passion for his subject matter, and the simplicity with which he lives his life; all of that is an inspiration.” Richard Press – Film Director.
He pretty much works everyday and every night in all weather on the streets of New York, uses a manual camera (no digital here), wears the same blue workmans coat everyday and has about four outfits in total. He lives his life frugally and for most of it (until recently) lived in a tiny apartment in Carnegie Hall with no kitchen (he eats out cheaply), bathroom (up the hall), closet or car and slept on a makeshift bed stacked on photography magazines (the apartment was also crammed with filing cabinets containing every negative he has ever taken). Oh and he is not interested in your money, your job or your celebrity……..he is interested in you, your style and what your wearing.
He is revered within the fashion industry “We all get dressed for Bill. It’s one snap, two snaps, or he ignores you, which is death” Anna Wintour, Vogue (US) editor-in-chief. He is revered, yet shuns all the usual trappings that world has to offer which I find remarkably refreshing. He is a truly unique and glorious human being without the dreaded pull of self consciousness the majority of us navigate. And without a drop of pretension. I came out of the film inspired and relieved to have been shown a true individual in todays world where most huddle under safe houses of sameness for fear of standing out. He celebrates individuality.
I was talking to somebody a couple of days after watching the movie and they used the term ‘weird’ to describe the way Bill lived…….Sometimes I feel like SHOUTING to the world WE DO NOT ALL HAVE TO BE THE SAME when I hear people call others ‘weird’ because they live differently from them. We do not need to all live the same lives jumping the same milestones of degrees, jobs, marriages, births and the purchasing of houses, the manicuring of careers and the buying of stuff. Bill Cunningham reminded me of that, and I love him for it. Some may say the dedication to his career has come at a cost. In my experience the majority of us are all looking at the spare change left from the decisions we’ve made. Whether your marching to the beat or free styling the Samba were all human beings. Living a different life from the majority is not the cause of suffering…….being human is.
I celebrate individuality and I celebrate Bill Cunningham, if you get a chance go watch, you’ll enjoy.
Heres a few gems from the man himself – ”I just play a straight game and in New York thats nearly impossible, to be honest and straight in New York thats like Don Quixote fighting windmills”. ”Alot of people have taste but they dont have the daring to be creative. Here we are in an age of cookie cutter sameness, there are few that are rarities…. someone that doesn’t look like they where stamped out of ten million other people all looking the same“.
You have been gone a year today.
I thought I would write to say hi and too see how everything’s going.
Oh and to say thank you. You loved me with all your heart, from the day I was born and you spent every opportunity throughout my life letting me know that. You were so supportive of what ever I chose to do always saying “as long as it makes you happy, thats the main thing”. You were the ultimate cheer leader.
I’m saying thank you now because I don’t think I ever really grasped how much your love meant to me. I mean, don’t get me wrong I loved you while you were around but I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I could have. Hindsight and all that.
I’m really sorry for the times when I would visit home over the last ten years and I didn’t show you much patience or time. To be honest I was frustrated with you sitting on your bed hiding away from the world (well thats what I thought). I know your memories and mind were slipping in and out of your possession and your heart was slowly breaking and loosing the strength of it’s tick. I knew all this but I was still frustrated and couldn’t seem to rise above my own discomfort and bring a compassionate heart to you. Damn it.
And I could have come home a couple of days earlier than I did. I could have said goodbye to you while you fought valiantly in the depths of an excruciating departure. But I didn’t. And I knew you were waiting for me. And Im truly sorry about that.
The only thing’s I can say I really know at 39 are, we are all perfectly imperfect. Life is going to be fabulous and shitty. I don’t know half the things I think I do. That we will surprise with joy those that we love and we will also disappoint them. And that my frustration at you was more about me and my frustration at myself, at not getting out there and doing the things that I wanted to do.
I hope your enjoying it where you are and your getting the odd wee Sherry in and a game of darts. And I wanted to say……a big thank you to you for looking after baby me when we came to live with you, the ‘stories with your mouth’, the Cyndie doll at Easter, black pudding, Coronation Street, your humour and spirit, the coins in the christmas pudding, the salted apple crumble (that was hilarious) coming to my graduation, my twenty-first album crammed with you on every page and the unrelenting oodles of support and love you had for me. You have shaped who I am and I am eternally grateful.
Oh and thank you for showing me what a true matriarch is – raising seven children and pretty much running the show on a nickel and a dime.
With my love.
I’m supercharged curious to explore and live a life filled of the things that I love to do; my passions – food, words, art, change. On my journey to building that life I have become a little bit of a ‘curious George’…….exploring other peoples passions and how they live them, as a hobby or career. Some have passionate extravaganza’s of lives crammed with doing what they love, work for them is utter joy. For some its in the hobbies they have…….and others just haven’t got the joy in yet. Lives lived from expectation or a disconnection to what lights their loins (but thats for another post).
Recently I’ve been wondering – ‘where do our passions come from’? Since I was a wee tot I’ve been a creative being. From my junior days I’ve loved drawing, words and food.
I’ve never really thought about where my love for these things came from. Well until recently when I had a Poirot moment and landed my first clue – my mother. My mother makes things with her hands, and she has done this for as long as I can remember. She creates and makes crafts. She is a master crocheter, excellent knitter, doll maker, felter…..makes body products, bags, clothes, homewares……the list goes on.
Mum (Denise) is a little cottage industry, she sells at craft fairs, to work colleagues and takes special orders, and she’s always out and about looking for retailers to stock her wares. And when I think back it has always been like this. I remember as a kid when she crocheted bikinis and sandals and sold them to bring in a bit of extra money.
When I phone home mum is always making something, crafts sprawled out over the lounge floor, it’s always been part of my memory of her. And she does all of this as a hobby as she has a full time job. She just loves to make, and I guess its a sort of therapy……a way to chill out, relax and unwind. I remember her saying that sometimes she has to make herself do some crafts, but its always been around. They have a unique life long relationship; mum and her crochet needle.
Recently she made beautiful hand crafted gifts for a friend of mines future bambino. I wanted to give something special and ma delivered in spades. Theres so much love and care that goes into her work, it just shouts ‘FEEL THE LOVE’ through its double stitched felt lining that you cant help but have a little bit of my mums joy in making it, rub off on you.
Its no wonder that I am creative. Its in my genes and has clothed my every childhood move.
Creativity has been a presence in my life pretty much from day dot due to my ma, but until my friends baby parcel arrived I’d never made the connection.
No, we don’t share the same aesthetic or creative practices but the ‘artisan’, ‘craftsman’ the ‘maker and creator’ are definitely energies we share. And sure they were developed and influenced as I grew up and studied art and design, but the origin of my passion, well that seems to be from closer to home. And as I forge my own business made up of doing the things that I love I realise how much of an influence mums life long hobby and resulting ‘cottage industry’ has had on me, without me even realising. Well until now.
My love for words…….well Im curious to explore that, but I know exactly where my love and education for food comes from – my uncle Anton. And thats another story.
It makes you wonder where your passions spring from, not for any other reason than curiosity and a deeper connection to why we tick tock the way we do. A bit of history always helps pave the future brightness.