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We got out the mei tai for the first time in months. Stella's feelings about it have not changed: totally cool if we're out and about, but horrific torture device if we're inside and she wants to be held while I cook dinner because only my arms are good enough.


She does, however, love her some camera.

(Side note: noise?!!??? What the what? Seriously, if we don't get some light up in here and I can't bump down my ISO I don't know WHAT is going to happen. Photog people, help.)

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Tokyo Style

I had grand ambitions to get this post up last night, you know, like IN TIME for Small Style. But lo, a certain one-year-old piped up just as I was cracking open my laptop and demanded cuddles and attention because everything was terrible and there were possibly nightmares or perhaps an impending fever, dagger teeth, or other similarly horrific baby drama. And how she did scream. Turns out, though, it was all just a ploy to get out of baby jail and into my bed where she wanted to do some late night games of peak-a-boo. 

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. We were in Tokyo. And indeed, it was very stylish. And fabulous. And it gave me a new outlook on Japan. And we should probably talk about how I went, by myself with my big girl panties, to the biggest, busiest, train station in all of creation, and rode the subway, changed lines, and got to where I was going. At rush hour. And did I mention, I was by myself? Let's just say it is exactly how you imagine: a wall of people in black suits and white surgical masks envelop you and are everywhere and look busy and they know where they're going and you don't. Terrifying and exhilarating.

Tokyo was pretty amazing. Lights. Neon. Totally bonkers outfits. Shops. Restaurants. Trains. Trains. Trains. And so so so many people. Here, let me show you. (Prepare for photobombasity.)







Anyway, THAT is also neither here nor there. We're talking Small Style. While we were in Tokyo, we stayed at a super nice hotel which was super more than we could really afford but also super wonderful and amazing. And so, obviously Stella had to be extra super cute. See?




Highlights from the trip, according to Stella, were as follows: millions of chairs for climbing on; a gigantic bed for playing wild rumpus time on; papi papi papi; trains; buses (or dadeeees as she has termed them); sugar; cookies; braised beef; venison loin; indian food; pastries; more sugar; more cookies; a gigantic slide (which, side note, was also pretty much the highlight of the trip for me as well); the view the view the view omg the view; and lots of fun times with some lovely friends.

So now we're back at home detoxing from the glamorous city life (and all the white sugar that I let me kid eat) and dreaming of our next trip. But, honestly, Tokyo will be hard to beat.

Stella Wore:

Top (Stars): Bobo Choses

Top (Stripes): Tea Collection

Skirt: Bobo Choses

Leggings: H&M


Did I take a million pictures of the view? Yes. WIll I apologize for that fact? Nope. It's been almost 2.5 years since I've seen vistas like this one. Soaking it all up.

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It's rainy, dull, and grey. And consequently, the light in my tiny apartment is awful. Really really really awful (if anyone has some tips in this regard, I'd love to hear them.) I took some photos of muffin baking, but really, harsh shadows, noise, and crappy angles, so. No go. Instead, I threw an Instagram filter on this ol' phone photo and bob's your uncle.


He's only allowing this because he missed us so.

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One last city scape as seen at dawn the morning of our departure. SOTC.


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I'm playing a game of catch-up on my 366 project. I took pictures every day (honest!) but my dog ate my internet time (and by dog, I mean wine and by ate it, I mean I drank it). So. 

We're back in our little southern town and I'm enjoying looking back on our big city adventures.


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Dare to Dream But Commit To Action

NorthSouthEastWest: Expat Dispatches


With 2012 still fresh and new, this month’s NorthSouthEastWest: Expat Dispatches examine beginnings from the four corner of the Globe. Linda of Adventures in Expat Land (North) Linda explores the moment an expat's new life starts. Russell, who blogs at In Search of a Life Less Ordinary (South), is dreaming big, and taking an even bigger bite out of 2012. Erica of Expatira, Baby  (East) writes of her love beginnings. And Maria, of I Was an Expat Wife (West) writes about the first time she felt at home in Singapore. 


So, get comfortable, pour yourself a glass, and join us in saluting 2012. Many new and wonderful beginnings to all of you. 



Dream Big But Commit to Action

by Russell V. J. Ward

I dream too much.


In 2011, I dreamt of untold possibilities, of opportunities and scenarios, of futures so rich of the good stuff of life, so promising and expansive I’d be hard pushed to find the sides. In my dreams, anything was achievable and I spent hours imagining options and outcomes without the mundane boundaries and restrictions of the ordinary world.


Not that there’s anything wrong with dreaming. We all have our hopes and aspirations, and to dream is to create and plan out one of many possible paths ahead.


The problem with last year was that I dreamt too much and too often. 


I daydreamed about my life’s direction, I contemplated the brightest of futures, and I blissfully whiled away the minutes and hours in a dozy, vacant state of mind. I dreamed of changing my job, of building a new business, of writing that bestselling book, even of living simultaneously on three continents in three wonderful homes...eventually. My dreams were fanciful but they were doomed to always remain just that. Dreams.



You see they weren’t real, living, actual things I could touch and feel because I held back from making them a reality. Procrastination was the devil on my shoulder and he was busy going about his business in 2011.


Faced with the prospect of sketching out a simple business plan, I’d instead seek out the comfort of a ‘tweet’ or a ‘like’. Rather than get started on the outline of a novel, I’d rather read one. I’m a lousy planner and a poorer goal setter, and these longer-term tasks continued to pass me by.


Whilst procrastination is the devil on my shoulder, then fear is his steadfast companion. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of disappointing others. 


I’ve decided that this year is going to be different. 


This year will be about new beginnings because, whether it's in a novel, a business idea, a change of direction or an approach to the New Year with renewed vigour and a fresh start, beginnings form the foundation upon which everything else rests. They embody great heart and hope. 


With this in mind, I will dream less and finish more often.


I will stop being scared to make a mistake. Doing something and getting it wrong is far more productive than doing nothing at all. I may not get it right first time, but at least I’ll have given it my best shot. 


I will stop being idle. I over-think and create problems that weren’t even there in the first place. I analyse and re-analyse when decisiveness and action are required. This year I’ll consider less and act on more. 


I will stop thinking I’m not ready. Most great opportunities in life force us to grow far beyond our comfort zones and I will never feel 100% ready. It’s par for the course and I need to get onboard and know I am ready, even if I think I’m not.


I will stop trying to make things perfect. The real world recognises and rewards people who get things done, not people who try to create perfection in their lives. And, anyway, what’s so bad about being imperfect?


I will stop following the path of least resistance. If I plan on achieving something worthwhile in this life, it’s most often not going to be easy. I won’t plan to take the easy way out but I will plan to create something extraordinary. It might be a hard slog, but the results will make every extra effort worth it.


This year will be about doing, not dreaming. I’ll take procrastination and inaction by the horns, confront the devils on my shoulder, face my fears head on.


This year I’ll dare to dream but, above all else, I’ll commit to action.




Image: Kenneth Cratty / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 



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It has been so long since I've been surrounded by so much life and so many people and and so much busyness and trains are full and everyone walks fast and I'm eating it up. Hello Tokyo. 


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