Tuesday, August 26, 2014

6 Life Lessons from Paddleboarding - Control Freak Learns What's SUP!

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6 Life Lessons Learned from Stand Up Paddleboarding 

Paddleboarding at Chicago SUP has become my favorite summer activity, if I could go every morning I would! I love paddleboarding because it is calming and gives me a chance to escape. Paddleboarding is a lot like life.... keep reading to find out how this control freak learned to let go on Lake Michigan.

Chicago Stand Up Paddleboarding

My first day on a paddleboard was on North Avenue was about five weeks ago. The guys at ChicagoSUP asked me if I wanted a lesson. I said, "Lesson?... It's a board, right? You stand up, right? And then you paddle, right?" The answer to all three questions was "Yes", so I grabbed my paddle and hit the beach. I never looked back! 

Life Lessons Learned From Paddleboarding 

1. Go With The Flow 
Much like life, in order to stay afloat, you must go with the flow. It's harder than it looks, and it's easier than it looks - it all depends on the flow. If the current or the winds are strong, you have to adapt and, dare I say it again, go with the flow.

2. Don't Try So Hard
Remember when you were a kid and you started at a new school, or you went to camp, and you just wanted to fit in? You tried really hard, but what happened.... you sucked, that's what happened. You tried too hard. Paddleboarding is the same. If you try too hard, work to hard, think about it too much, you're going to bite it. 

3. Look Straight Ahead 
You've heard the saying, "Don't look back, you're not going that way" - yeah, it's true. If you don't want to fall, don't look back. Look straight ahead in the direction you're going, find a spot to concentrate on, and keep your eye on the horizon and you'll get there. 

ChciagoSUP North Avenue Beach
Photo Bombed! 

4. Don't Be Afraid to Fall 
My first time, I was pretty cautious, I worried about falling in because I didn't want to get wet (even though I was standing on board in a large body of water). My second time out, it was choppy, and I was in the water more than I was on the board. I was angry and reluctant to get back up. But then I asked, "What is the big deal?" I fall in, I get wet, I get up and I keep going. Bring it lake... because I'm not afraid to fall!  

5. Winning Isn't Always About Control - Sometimes, It's About Letting Go 
This is the big lesson, so pay attention. That second time I was out there, the water was choppy and the current was strong, but with each ripple, I'd brace myself with my legs fully engaged. I fought those waves so hard my legs were shaking, my toes were digging into my board, my arms were tired from gripping my paddle, but I was getting nowhere. I'd weeble, I'd wobble and I'd fall right in. 

Eventually, I had to sit down on my paddleboard because I was so tired. I'd shake my legs out and pound my fists onto my thighs and yell, "COME ON NOODLES!" I realized nothing I was doing was making a difference, this was bigger than me and I wasn't going to win... I take that back, I was going to win, but not by fighting it. I had to keep soft knees, I had to breath, and most of all I had to let go.... just let go. 

6. Stop, Take in Your Surroundings and Be Happy  
The reason I love paddleboarding so much is because I find it meditative. I usually hop on and paddle as fast as I can to the brick shit house (the farthest spot that the guys from ChicagoSUP will let you go - a brick "house" that's a bathroom on the lakefront - or brick shit house as I call it). Once I get to the brick shit house, I paddle east and get as close as I can to the (david) buoy. And there I am, right in the middle. 

The physical activity of paddleboarding is forcibly engaging, it keeps your mind focused on the activity while daily preoccupations slowly dissipate. In the middle of the lake, I sit down on my board, sometimes I lay down (if there isn't a boat close by that could potentially decapitate me), I look back at the gorgeous skyline and I think about life. Out there with no one to talk to, no noise and no distractions, I think about all the things I love, all the things I am grateful for and all the things I am hopeful for in the future.  

Finally, there is one last thing about I like about Paddleboarding with ChicagoSUP on Lake Michigan -- NO SHARKS!!!!

leyla ChicagoSUP
My awkward "oh god, they're taking my picture in a bathing suit" smile

Learn How to Paddleboard with ChicagoSUP 

P.S. I received absolutely no compensation in return for this post! I wrote it because I enjoy every minute of my time out there and I hope that you will try it out for yourself too. Just don't come out there before 9AM, I like my morning peaceful time - alone. Thanks! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

5 Question Friday with Jon in the Digital World

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5 Question Friday - The Long Overdue Edition 

Where I ask friends and interesting strangers to answer the same 5 questions, and it happens on Fridays. 

I met John in dingy basement bar somewhere north of North Avenue back in '08 - an unlikely setting an digital marketing workshop. I knew little about digital marketing back then, but I was eager to learn, so eager that I dared to ask the speaker about backlinks from MySpace. That speaker was John. Since that time, John has been an incredible resource, a helpful adviser, and most of all, a good friend. 

Jon Geletka 
John Geletka is a painter, sculpter, designer, technologist, and marketer. He’s a Chicago native who’s always looking for something awesome to do. John is the CTO at CentUp, a tech partner at Avenue, a startup advisor, and a UX/Programming teacher. He’s the worst sysadmin ever.

1. What defines you? (Be descriptive, is it your job, family, a certain skill or talent you may have?)
My friends would say… I’m a hard worker. I’m a pain to deal with, I’m a bit flighty, I’m a always there to help. My enemies would say…I’m hard to deal with. I forget everything. I’m full of myself. I’m not as good as I think. My colleagues would say…I know my discipline. I deliver great work. I drive them crazy. My wife would say…I’m the best looking smart person she knows.

2. What song that energizes you when you are looking for motivation? (maybe it is more than one depending on what you need to get motivated for)

Graceland by Paul Simon. I listen to this song once a day, every day. Secret to life.

3. If you were to show up to a potluck, what would you bring? (and why? And what kind of potluck is this?)

Wine. I hate cooking. I stopped at Hugo’s Frog Bar on the way to the last potluck I was invited to and purchased a large plate of pan fried frog legs. Yum. The potluck was a French theme. I took the warm legs, plated them on one of my finest IKEA dishes, put foil on top and severed them to my friends.They were convinced I had made them myself until the host outed me.

4. Describe your perfect day.

A perfect day for me is one that’s different from the day before. I don’t have high expectations of fine dining, travel and wine, but I do hate doing the same repetitive thing over and over again. I like surprises, good or bad. I look for the new and generally this outlook has made everyday perfect. Yes, I’m that asshole who loves everyday…as shitty and hard as some can be.

5. What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery? What would you do if you won $100 million?

Isn’t this a 90’s song? If I had a million dollars I’d pay off my house and my parent’s house. I’d by a new computer, take a small vacation and invest in some sustainable companies that help the world. Like Centup. Sorry for the shameless plug. 

If I won 100 million, I’d do the same things for myself, make sure all my friends were out of debt, invest in sustainable companies, and invest/fund non-for-profits focused on new ways of teaching. I hate our current education system, and I’d love to get kids exposed to problem-solving disciplines like art and computer science. I might also setup some sustainable artist communities.

Learn More About John

Read other 5 Question Friday posts here. P.S. I listened to Graceland while posting this and I might make it part of my daily routine too.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What is My Ultimate Festival Style?

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With Lollapalooza a few days away, I have yet to find my music fest style inspiration. 

Instagram is loaded with fashion bloggers in short shorts, kimonos and bold accessories, but I can't relate. I've been going to music festivals longer than most of those girls have been alive, so I'm taking my own fashion journey to uncover my own festival fashion essentials and define My Ultimate Festival Style.

Lollapalooza Fashion Tie Dye
Tie-Dye and Goofy Matching Hats - NEVER My Festival Style

The Music Fest Evolution 

The Music Festival has been around for a while, there was Woodstock, a 3-day peace festival in 1969, and then the attempted revivals of Woodstock through the years. Lollapalooza and others, including, Lilith Fair, Monsters of Rock, and the Warped Tour toured bands of similar genres for a single day event. In the 80s, summer was considered concert season, and because we went to concerts all summer long, there wasn't a focus on one fashion, style or look.

80s Music Fest Fashion
Basic Black Almost Always My Style
With friends at a show in Paris as an exchange student my senior year

Today things are different, music festivals are big and can be the pinnacle event of one's summer. Owning that "festival look" has become a defining moment in every young girl's summer. In the summer fest spirit, I tried to imagine myself as a 20-something who just giddy over a summer festival and looking for fashion inspiration. What would be my Ultimate Festival Style?

Inspiration to Uncover My Ultimate Festival Style: 
  1. My past concert style. Working a little nostalgia into festival style can be fun. To visualize the past, I dug out old photos and asked friends how they remembered concert style. 
  2. My musical taste. Because fashion differs by festival, musical taste plays a big role in the style selection. I looked to music I like - past and present.
  3. My concert goals. Whether it is meeting a guy, meeting the band, making new friends, impressing old acquaintances, or simply surviving the heat - looking fashionable is imperative. 
  4. My concert behavior. Fashion at music fests tend to be dictated by actions and accomplices, outfit selections must take into account of how aggressively one intends to enjoy a festival weekend. 
  5. My trend tolerance. Whether we like to admit it or not, we think about what others are wearing at concerts and how we want to look in comparison, therefore festival style is driven by what is trending now.

My Past Concert Style

According to friends and photos, my past concert style was all over the place. Depending on the concert and the era, I wore everything from hot pink floral pants with pink converse high tops, to black mesh crop tops and a tank top over a long black fringe skirt, to floral baby doll dresses with Dr. Martens, to flannel shirts and leggings, and let's not forget the the summer concert style favorite - cut off denim shorts and cowboy boots.

For those of us who who grew up in the 80s, oversized clothing, printed shirts, concert t-shirts, or t-shirts with words across the chest were all the rage. In the late 80s, my Rolling Stones concert t-shirt was a mainstay. In the early to mid 90s, it was one of my many graphic tees, like the one below.

Leyla The College Years
Graphic shirts with stupid words - a former favorite look of mine
Taken in the early 90s

Printed T-shirt with Cut Off Denim Shorts Festival Style
I would wear this vintage style motorcycle t-shirt now,  find it at Pink Mascara

My music taste, my behavior and my concert goals influenced my fashion choices back then too. I frequented shows where there were sure to be mosh pits and I was sure to be up close to the stage. This precluded me from wearing sandals or heels, that way I was safe when stomped on or pushed by some big skinhead.

Sneaking into shows was another behavior that was the norm (for me) in my teen years, which meant I rarely wore skirts. In the likely event that I had to hop a fence to get in, or dodge security, I wouldn't have to worry about a skirt slowing me down.

Comfy Music Fest Look
Relaxed and Ready - an Ideal Music Fest Look
Black leggings and a plain T - comfy light weight cotton + a touch of lycra by James Perse

My Musical Taste

I like girl music, good old fashioned rock and roll, British music and American music that sounds like British music. Because I have always appreciated a wide range of music, dressing for a certain musical genre wasn't my thing, instead I would dress like a girl and tweak or accessorize my outfits to the genre of music for each concert.

Leyla Arsan in High School
Striped Cropped Summer Sweater - Chilly Weather Festival Style
A girl in girl clothes, taken in the late 80s at my friend's house

If I were to select one music festival based on my past musical taste, it would most certainly be Riot Fest. And surprise! I am going to Riot Fest in Chicago this September, and guess what, I'll be dressed like a girl. But not the girl below, if I had a daughter she might be dressed like the girl below.

Late 80s - Young, Angry Leyla Festival Style
Long fringe (or crochet) skirt would've been a festival look at the request of my HS boyfriend, I would have happily obliged.

Depending on the group of friends, (or my friend Adam who I still go to music fests with) I might be going to see Metallica, The Cult, Monsters of Rock, or some obscure guitar legend. If this was the case, I was almost always in black pants or black leggings a white t-shirt and a flannel. Sometimes I wore a flannel under another flannel, the top flannel was quilted and would serve as my winter coat. No better way to keep it sexy than in flannel!

Late 80s Flipping The Bird Style
Oversized men's flannel shirt and baggy pants was my thing about three years prior to the popularity of grunge music.

Plaid Button Down Shirt - Grunge Girl Festival Style
Except I no longer dress like this, ever.

It may come as a surprise, but I NEVER liked grunge music. It may come as an even bigger surprise, but I was, and still am, a fan of House music. I had a set of high school friends that I would frequent clubs with on all-ages nights to hear DJs spin and watch dance-offs. I swear to god there were dance-offs between men - I would not make this up. My naturally giant hair was always a huge hit with the dance music crowd.

Have You Seen Molly? EDM or Northcoast Music Festival Look
The rave / club kid look has forever been popular by confused children and doesn't seem to ever go away.

Heading to The Riv with High Hair in the 80s - Early 90s
What else does one wear when listening to House music all night long? 

By the time I was 16, I was working in a record store and going to about two to three concerts a week. I almost always met new people or ran into people I wasn't expecting to see. Whether they were kids from rival high schools, people I met at different concerts, or my boyfriend's ex-girlfriends, running into someone was imminent and looking cute was an important part of the concert experience. If I was going to impress others or one-up my boyfriend's exes it had to be done stylishly. 

Other times, my concert goal was just getting to the concert, in which case I just wore whatever I had on. Or borrowed something from a friend. I'm sure you've guessed by now that I was not a very good student, I mean who could be with all these other priorities!

Whatever I Woke Up In 1992 Festival Style 
I probably scored a ticket to something from someone and had to borrow a shirt from my boyfriend. Check out the T-shirt Best Sellers at ChicNova.

Festival Style
Casually Piss Off Others in this Wildfox T-shirt Festival Style
I met the band, my friends ditched me and now I'm not sure how I'm getting home.

My Concert Behavior 

This is KEY information needed to unveil my festival style! I was (and sometimes still am) an aggressive concert-goer. That means that I will see all of the bands I came to see, I will get to see from a perfect location, I will not leave until all of the lights are on and then I will go out afterwards.  Staying until the end of a show and going out afterwards may not have been a problem for me in the past, but these days, to make it for three days and three nights, I need stamina and a strategy that incorporates a pragmatic approach to style.

Illegal Backyard Bonfire Festival Style
In College, listening to bands play well into the morning hours in some backyard.

Light Weight Black Cargo Shorts - Utilitarian Festival Style
Great for carrying beers you stole from the media tent AND your multiple cell phones.

My Trend Tolerance 

This is probably the most important piece of the puzzle! Some of the styles I've seen on the lovely young ladies in the blogs and the Instagrams of contemporary fashion icons showing off their festival looks. I have an extremely low tolerance for this sort of shenanigans. Can you see ME in a flower crown? If you ever do see me in a flower crown, check my pockets and confiscate whatever I may be ingesting because I've had too much.

Flower Child Festival Style - No, Never!
Flower crowns are completely stupid and the overalls aren't much better, I did the overall thing, but a little different than this (see below), you can find all this stuff at WetSeal.com

Oversized Overalls Hillbilly Stoner Festival Style
Old Style beer bottle on the counter, garbage bags piled behind me while I play catch with an apple - why not? This was the 90s!

Trendy Hat Festival Style (Trendy Triplet Mom photo credit)
Floppy hats, fedoras, straw hats - they're all over the music fest circuit. Hats galore at Wet Seal.

Fedora Hat Festival Style
Festival Fedora Look Keeps My Crazy Hair Under Control 
Yup, that's me in my mid - late 20s, I think this top was made of bathing suit material.

Kimono and denim shorts
Wannabe Hippie Girl in a Kimono Festival Style
I really don't understand this weird kimono look. What's the point? If you must have a Kimono, check out Milanoo for a wide range of styles. Or you can find Kimonos at Wet Seal (obviously).

Denim Vest at Coachella -- No, No, and No! (Free People blog
Not sure who keeps convincing people that denim vests are a good idea, they're not.

Short Floral "Skater Dress" Festival Style
Light and easy dress are perfect for summer festivals

Leyla Arsan
My Floral Festival Style + My Friend in Her Denim Vest Festival Style
Cheers! This was my senior year of college and I'm pictured wearing my favorite dress (at the time).

Before we finally uncover MY Ultimate Festival Style let's take a quick look back at my fest fashion from the recent past. Keep scrolling for my 2014 music festival reveal! 

Leyla Arsan Festival Style
Leyla's Festival Style in 2008 (or '09) 
Sitting in the shade at Lollapalooza in the lightest tank top I owned because it was 1000 degrees.

Leyla Chicago
Leyla at Lollapalooza in 2013 
Look, I'm wearing sandals I must not be afraid of skinheads anymore!

My Festival Style in 2013 
 Third Day of Lollapalooza

~~ But here is the GREAT reveal... My Ultimate Festival Look for 2014 ~~

Hot pink burqa! 
Just Kidding!!

Realistically, my Ultimate Festival Look for 2014 will probably be something closer to the pic below - gray JBrand Jeans or cargo pants with a black T-shirt. Riot Fest is in September, so I will probably need a jacket too. Oh, and one of those purses that charges your multiple cell phones, because I never leave home with less than two.

JBrand Cargo Skinny Pants (Denim Blog photo credit)
This could be a great look, lots of pockets and that oversized t-shirt looks comfy!

Stay Tuned... I plan to write another FESTIVAL STYLE blog post, this time I will be selecting the festival style of the 23 year old I sit next to at work. This is going to be awesome.