An Autumnal Engagement

colorado, outdoors, Photography

I had the great privilege of photographing an adorable couple earlier this month. Caroline is a friend from college and I was thrilled when she asked me to capture these photos!

Autumn is my favorite time of year to photograph due to the richness of everything. It’s the clothes, food, natural wonders, and lighting that make everything look whimsical. Everything bursts with richness from the colors to the joy on people’s faces. It makes capturing it all the more rewarding for the photographer.

Travel Is More Than Checklists

France, Ireland, italy, musings, Scotland, Travel

In my work, and my passion, there is a lot of talk about “bucket lists”. Bucket Lists, for those unaware, are lists of things and places one wants to go to before they “kick the bucket” aka drop dead.

While it’s great to have lists and goals, dreams and wishes, it’s also important not to lose track of all the other reasons one should travel.

No doubt I have my own goals I want to accomplish, and a bucket list a mile long, yet I know in my heart of hearts I travel for much more than checking off places.

When I was 19 and I took off to Europe by myself, I kept thinking “if I die now I will feel fulfilled”. I felt this when I saw Paris. Then again in London. Again in Edinburgh. Once again in Ireland….and I have felt it so many more times in eight and a half years. Yet I have not run out of places I want to visit, things I want to experiences, beauty I want to absorb. This is because the act of traveling is much more than coming home and saying “I have been here” it’s the stories, the people, and the moments that make traveling whole.

Some of my more vivid memories have nothing to do with making it to a place I always wanted to see. While seeing the Eiffel Tower was spectacular. I remember the same wonder at a funeral procession in the Orkney Islands. Something about those moments connected me deeper to humanity that I was witnessing, and the glory that was our existence. I laughed as much at a comedy show in Dublin as I did a little girl in a park in Blarney who was trying to talk me out of my crackers as I ate a picnic. I have wept seeing the Mona Lisa and the Birth of Venus, surrounded by hundreds of people, because of the connection we all felt through time and to ourselves and those around us in awe. I have also cried sitting alone on mountain tops, flabbergasted at the insignificance of my own size and existence.

My point is that travel is an emotional experience. Travel is a humanitarian experience. I travel to be more in love with the people I share earth with. I travel to be humbled at the beauty of nature. I have traveled to get closer to family and friends. I have traveled to escape family. Traveling means pushing my comfort levels to a breaking point. Traveling means eating food I never would try otherwise (hello escargot). Travel means drinking and eating at totally bizarre places and falling in love with it. Traveling means looking other people in the face and feeling connected to them, even if they are a complete stranger.

Because checking off lists holds you to a form, and the earth is far better explored in its natural chaos.

Travel is to live your life to its highest value.

Travel, in its pure form, is magic.

Happy Travels!

Pets Make It All Worthwhile

love, musings

My in-laws had to say goodbye to their old cat this week. She had fought a long, hard, fight, and battles that almost took her many times. She was a tough old girl, a sweet old girl, a cat that everyone loved.

Regardless of seeing the end years before, and losing many other beloved pets, there is always pain. A sharp and intense longing in the heart. Tears that sting at the eyes, even if you know “it was only a cat”. Because, as all animal lovers know, it’s never “only a” anything. They’re family, they are loved, they make our lives worthwhile.

The cruelty is that we love these creatures so much, almost like children, and they leave us well before we want them to. Halfway through a normal life, a quarter, a few years, they depart us and leave behind corners full of fur and claw marks on a couch.

While they poop inconveniently and behave rudely we still love these fluffs that we adopt. We love their snuggles and kisses, their talks and stumbles. We appreciate knowing that no matter what the world thinks of us, that cat or dog or rat or goat will be so happy to see us.

In ways pets reflect our love of humanity. Animals remind us not to take things so seriously. Animals reflect our desire to be more innocent and to explore without restrictions. They show us the animal nature we all have, and remind us that it’s okay to roll in the dirt and sleep outside. They encourage us to be honest with our existence and to love unconditionally. Yet, they hold magic in them that is not found with other people.

When they die we are also reminded of our fragility on earth, of being mortal. We hope that our passing will also be peaceful, with loved ones, asleep and then gone, if we’re lucky.

Yet even with our tears we are shown light in the hope of our own existence. In tears we find the strength to love again and again, because we know that the love learned from one pet, is too much to stop there.

They make it all worthwhile.

The Creative Mind

musings

The creative mind is a tricky thing.

On one hand you know, locked in your school are all the details needed to create and craft endless wonders.

On the other hand is the constant view of what you want to be and not being able to enact it.

Culturally and mentally we all want more than what we have. Deep down we all want to hoard everything, to have what others have, to have more than others have. While this helped us survive when as we developed into humanity, today, it can play a disservice. In the creative brain it creates a loop of dissatisfaction and anxiety.

When I take a photo, I usually like it…. then quickly dislike it. I see the value immediately but then I begin to pick at my work. Sometimes it’s because I have learned a new technique or I’ve become better at cropping or angles or adjusting aperture etc. so I see my mistakes after a while. The other part is a hatred of not feeling good enough. A creeping sensation that everything I do is garbage.

I need to put on the mental games brakes before I get to garbage. This is hard. Any of you that are creative, maybe poets, painters, or dancers, you know how hard this is. Yet it’s vital for long term success.

Even with this blog I feel scared. Fear of failure. A sensation that I’m wasting my time. An anxiety that everything I put into the universe is just drivel in a never ending spew fest of the internet. Maybe everything we do has no actual meaning.

Yet, and I pressure you, dear reader, to land here: maybe it is all a little value. A little value to you. A little value to your friends that appreciate your work. A little value to building your skills. All are like droplets in your life, and eventually you get a cup that overflows. It takes time to fill it, but you get there.

Some of our cultural issues are that we treat creativity like it’s this ethereal dance with muse and inspiration. A divine light that makes everything come together to success. And while creativity sometimes feels like that, there were a lot of little drops to get to a divine moment, the overflow. Meaning, that there was a lot of work to get there.

So while overnight success isn’t fully tangible , I know that I can add drops until I get there.

Happy Travels!

A Few of my Favorite Things (USA Edition)

adventure of the week, musings, Travel, United States

No doubt, when out in the world, there are differences along the way. The most noticeable for me tend to be food. Yet, when you go out and explore enough you start to realize the nuances of the world are just different.

  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Grocery Stores with EVERYTHING
  • Good, Cheap, Mexican
  • Decent Wi-Fi
  • Casual Outfits (I can wear pajamas to the grocer or coffee shop)
  • Hiking shoes as normal wear
  • A Website for Everything
  • Gym Clothes as errands clothes
  • Labels I can fully read (google translate helps with this) note: this is due to food allergies and specific needs I have for consuming things.
  • Halloween
  • Epic Wildlife

What are your favorites?

A Few of My Favorite Things (Colorado Edition)

colorado, Colorado Events, food, outdoors, Travel

Everyone has favorites from their hometown, home state, or neighborhood. Maybe it’s the pizza place you buy lunch at, or the bakery a few towns over. For me, as someone that hasn’t had a traditional upbringing, I am establishing my roots in a town for the first time as an adult.

Thus, I have a handful of varied things from 27 years on this planet that I crave when I am away, or that I suggest to others. Here is my short list.

  • Amazing Mexican Food
  • A REAL Margarita (Colorado version)
  • City O’City Pizza
  • Tea from Happy Lucky’s
  • The smell of aspens and pines
  • The smell of cold days and wood stoves
  • Aspens in Fall
  • Flowers in spring
  • Concerts at the Ogden Theater in Denver
  • Concerts at Red Rocks
  • Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Halloween costumes made around coats
  • The sunrise and sunsets
  • Rainy days
  • Snow storms
  • Christmas lights on dark nights
  • Green Chile
  • Huevos Rancheros

What are your hometown favorites?

USA edition 🇺🇸

My First Travel Adventure

adventure of the week, family, Travel, United States

My first trip without my parents was in 2008 with my great aunt and uncle. My uncle was a retired Vietnam Navy Veteran and his group of “Navy Rats” decided to have a reunion in Norfolk, Virginia.

In the summer of 2008 I was 17 and I wanted to work for the summer to save for a trip I wanted to take in 2010 to Europe. However, living in the sticks of Colorado and in the beginning of the worst recession since the 1930s, I didn’t have many choices.So, Casper, Wyoming was having an oil boom and there were ample jobs for those needing “something”. My aunt and uncle graciously opened their home to me, and I worked that summer as a hostess at IHOP (I don’t recommend this part of the experience).

However, the first few days I was gone I learned the first boy I kissed had died from Bacterial Meningitis. I missed home and the comforts of my small town life, and I felt isolated in a job with a lot of drama (think back seat shags in the parking lots, and being screamed at by drug dealers).

However, even though it felt like I got kicked out of a car driving down the interstate, I found a lot of strength that summer. Strength to fight through panic attacks. Strength to go to a job I hated. And the reward was my first time on an airplane and other firsts.

We headed to the east coast, I flew the first time. Saw Ellen Page at the Detroit airport (Juno was a new movie still). I saw the ocean for the first time. We visited Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement as well as Colonial Williamsburg.

It was at these locations that history began to come alive to me and I began to appreciate the layers and complexity around every turn.

It was then that I became totally hooked on travel to real and historical places. It was at these places that I started to think critically on what I knew about American History and colonialism. And I have never looked back.

This journey would push me into being away from home for months at a time. It would push me to seek knowledge and stories. It would encourage me to face my fears and anxieties like a warrior. It would make me a stronger girl that would turn into the woman I am today.

The moral of the story, is don’t give up because it scares you, move forward because you should.

Happy Travels!

Recharge Your Batteries

musings

There are times when I think I might be solar powered. Which instead of solar, let’s try rain and clouds.

I say this because there are times where I really need a break. A break from technology. A break from scrolling on Facebook. A break from news. A break from drama. A break from friends. A break from my family.

I have always considered myself an extrovert, but the older I get, the more I realize that I need time to myself and that I in fact really enjoy it. While I love parties, meeting people, traveling, seeing new things. There are days when I just need to be a couch potato. Or I need to nap half the day. Or I need to clean when no one is around and in my way. Some of it is just quirks about myself and my needs. But REALLY I NEED time to myself. Time to be in my own head. Time to create something, clean something, paint something, write…. time.

For years I thought I needed others to fill my voids, to fill the needs I had. But the truth was a deeper need to have conversations with myself. My introvert husband helped with this transition and I have never looked back.

The thing is, when I was a child I lived in a house of seven people. The house was about 1,500 square feet, not particularly small, but with seven people, it got cozy. In that seven were my parents, my grandparent’s on my dad’s size, myself and my two younger sisters. I shared a room with my sisters. In fact, my two sister’s shared a double bed for many years. Some of this was poverty and cohabitation, and not being able to afford our own place (my nuclear family). As the years progressed my grandparent’s began having serious health issues that meant someone needed to be there as much as possible.

While we were the main people that lived in the house, my dad’s family often came to visit. Meaning at any particular holiday 14+ people could be staying in the house. This meant more people in my room, sometimes sleeping in my parents room. Sometimes it meant sleeping in a tent in the backyard.

Needless to say, I was never alone much. As a child such things don’t seem abnormal, as it is all you know. As an adult, you start to really pick at the scars certain things left behind. Being crammed in one house meant that I never truly learned to thrive on my own, and it also meant I never had space to feel truly free. (This is not to pick on my upbringing, but rather an observation.)

In college I moved into my own studio apartment, and my first year of college was a lonely one. While I was dating Ryan (my now husband) we were doing long distance (60 miles apart approximately). Then on top of that I had a year of losses of friends and family that left me facing a lot of demons.

When I moved in with Ryan I grasped at time together as hoping to fill the voids left where my pain had been. We fought a lot, because he needed alone time, I needed attention.

At some point I realized that I also should try alone time, and I realized it was what I needed. At times it has been meditation. At times it has been reading. At times it has simply been laying in bed playing a game on my phone. Other times I walk eight miles, to feel more alive. And GOD does it feel good. I love my alone time now. I love not having to talk to someone. I love not needing to put energy into something. I love the rest that I can create.

At times this means I am not always keeping up with my art and blog. For that I cringe, but for my all around health, I embrace is.

Happy Travels….or rest days ❤

 

Accomplishments and Goals Part 3

musings

Parts 1 and 2 talked about why we should only hold ourselves to our goals and not compare to everyone else. We have our own challenges and the confining pulls of privilege and prejudice. Therefore every accomplishment is an achievement to be proud of, a story to share, a part of ourselves to hold onto. All of us have different goals in life and what we do or do not do is not for anyone else to judge.

Here is my short list of goals for the next ten years:

  • Have a solid career
  • Make 100k a year as a family
  • Make 100k a year individually
  • Have a successful blog and brand
  • Travel to South America
  • Travel to Asia
  • Travel to Africa
  • Hike the Inca Trail (by 30)
  • Own a small but comfortable home
  • Pay off my student loans (this may be closer to 20 years)
  • Be a better cook
  • Travel to another country with both my husband and stepdaughter
  • Sew more of my clothes
  • Travel for my job
  • Visit six of seven continents (maybe all seven)
  • Visit more friends that live overseas
  • Snuggle pandas in China
  • Eat sushi in Japan
  • Get a traditional tattoo
  • See elephants in the wild
  • See penguins in the wild
  • Live in another state and/or country for more than 3 months
  • Swim with Whale Sharks
  • Be more fit
  • Be healthier

what are your goals?