Sunday, 25 January 2015

How To Be Bohemian Like Me

 The best thing about self portraits is that I can give myself better eyebrows than I actually have.

 I am quite doubtful that anybody can actually be bohemian anymore, that is in the sense of the term as applied to an unconventional person living a lifestyle dedicated to arts, culture and 'doing it my way'.  If we are going to refer to the Czech Republic as Bohemia then a person certainly can be Bohemian, but the word was usurped quite some time ago and the nuances of its meaning keep expanding.  It is meant to be applied to artists, using that term broadly, who live unconventionally, but I think we have reached a point when most rules and conventions and cultural norms have been challenged and the world has shrunk so much that there is nothing new and shocking or unconventional left to do.  Everyone is unconventional and no one is.  One can be unconventional within one's smaller environment, perhaps in comparison to family or peers or within the relative framework of what is typical for one's town, and one can be unconventional in one or two areas of life but probably not all of them. One can even happily live life entirely on one's own terms doing exactly as one pleases and shock no one.  I confess I am a little bit disappointed by the idea that there is nothing left that is shocking and that even the attempt to shock looks like so much trying too hard.

If you happen to have ME and spend a lot of time wandering the internet randomly reading things because your brain isn't functioning well enough to read a novel and your body isn't functioning well enough to paint and you don't like television, you start doing Google searches for things you need to know like 'how to be a hippie', 'how to be beautiful' or 'how to be smart'. One of my favourites is 'how to be interesting'.   I can at least get some images I enjoy from a search of 'how to be bohemian' but eventually I get annoyed at the limitations of this so called boho look.  It has a formula and it is not creative in any way, relying mainly on lace and cowboy boots, cut off denim shorts, lots of skin in general and a tendency to live in California where one can dress like it is always summer because mainly it always is.  If the internet is to be believed, only young and very thin women wear boho-chic clothing.   What does a true bohemian wear?  Anything she wants to though generally something not being worn by the bourgeois masses. So in my part of the world that means not wearing yoga pants,  or anything that comes from or resembles what comes from LuLuLemon.  No skinny jeans or leggings with riding boots and over-sized scarves also known as Pinterest Style.

Since there are plenty of lists or articles online explaining how to be bohemian or how to have bohemian style I thought I would make my own.  

                              Twenty Steps for an Unconventional Life

                                Possibly Bohemian, Definitely Not Chic.

1.  Do things backwards.  In a time period when young women delay marriage or replace it with common law relationships, marry young.  Believe in it with all your heart.

2.  Don't start a family right away but go to school and start a career, things people thought you wouldn't do because you got married.

3.  Immerse yourself totally in being a mother but only have one child while everyone around you has two or three and tells you that you will psychologically scar your only child.

4.  After more than 20 years of marriage, leave your husband.

5.  Rent an apartment and fill it with hand-me down furniture while you spend a year or two uncertain about your financial future because you have discovered you cannot work any longer.

6.  Paint because you no longer have a garden and write some bad poetry too.

7.  Embrace your insomnia and keep strange hours.  Drink tea and eat bacon and eggs in bed at 2am while working on your second attempt at a novel.

8.  Switch from being vegan to eating mostly meat and vegetables with liberal doses of cheese.

9.  Buy a condominium which seems so terribly bourgeois but is actually so different from what all your friends are doing.  Decorate it like a cottage.

10.  Have secrets nobody would ever guess at. 

11.  Wear leggings because apparently they are a fashion faux pas but do not wear them as pants.  Not because this is inappropriate but because girls all over town are doing that.

12.  Sleep until noon often.  Have bubble baths at midnight.

13.  Pile books in every room.  Put potted plants on top of them.

14.  Paint mostly self portraits because it is better to make yourself ugly than your friends.  Paint nudes.  Use yourself as a model because you are all you have and you don't charge anything.

15.  Wear whatever you want to whenever you want to and have fun experimenting with clothing from the thrift shops.  Look for velvet and lace and purple because you can never have too much.

16.  Avoid writer's groups or artist's groups because you are expected to join those and you know you wouldn't like them.

17.  Abandon your smart phone.  You never used it anyway.  You never turned it on.

18.  Talk to strangers in the cafe.  Never order a non-fat latte or a non-fat anything.

19.  Cut your own hair and generally ruin it often, especially your bangs.

20.  Take your adult son to the pub frequently because pub food is awesome and so is your son.


  1. Too funny Shawna...Love the self portrait with all that purple. It goes with my post in which I mention you. ;)

    1. I really want to see you re-create that purple outfit, Joni! xo

  2. always love your ramblings :-)
    cool portrait! hugs from one bohemian to another!!!!!
    (funnily i have "real" bohemian blood - of the czech kind :-) )

    1. LOL-well I make a point only to be friends with people who love my ramblings. xo I once had a friend from Czechoslovakia. He was a very delightful human being and I often wonder how he and his family are doing now. They live in Canada. I think he taught me much about living in the moment. xo

  3. LOL...quite the boho life lady!

    I can see now that I'm only faking my bohemian style.


    1. Clearly you are such a poser and totally faking all that style you ooze. For fun, read Lauren Stover's book and I think you will decide you could easily be a Dandy Bohemian if you weren't so clean. ;-) xoxo

  4. You and Joni have definitely got some psychic connection going!

    I think I could be bohemian like you (I love that song), except I skipped the parenting part. And I got a husband late in life and I think I'll hang on to him, except his taste in home decorating is so bourgeois. But I'm with you on midnight bubble baths, cafes, books and smart phones!

    1. Well you get to define bohemian for yourself so you can just go right ahead and skip the parenting part. I do highly recommend bacon and eggs in bed at 2am though. And if I get the right husband next time I will hang onto that one. xoxo

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. A wonderful painting. Yes, whether or not we are considered conventional or not is dependent on our milieu, and I think most of us have some unusual traits or preferences which mark us out from the crowd. And thank goodness for that! xxx

  7. Love this post Shawna and the list is amazing!!!

  8. You wrote the book on the boho style :)
    I agree with you, the boho look is so contrived now. I enjoy going to art stores in the city and seeing how the artist dress, or the fashion designers. It's always so cool and often void of cowboy boots and lace. As a matter of fact, you rarely see cowboy boots in L.A. Like you said, it's always summer here.

  9. I do love your bohemian rules...and some of them I have embraced by self...books with plants on top of them, cutting my own hair, not joining art or artist group... I fail to understand why I have to take a course in painting just because I'm painting.

    I do love your auto portrait...It's been a while since I dared one:)


I love visitors and I love comments. I will try my best to respond to everyone! Thanks for stopping by.