Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Winter Sunday Adventure


On Sunday my family drove out to Empire and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore area because we had heard the ice caves from last year were back. Unfortunately once we got out there we learned there were no ice caves yet this year (major bummer). The temperatures were below zero, the wind was blowing hard and snow was coming down, but we decided to drive around and explore a little anyways. Might as well enjoy the area while we were there.




My dad, brother, and I all went out on the ice at Empire. The snow was deep but climbing down onto the ice was a slipper task. Surprisingly none of us ended up on our butts during the process. After a few minutes I was getting cold and worried that my pant legs were getting wet, so I headed back to the car. My dad and brother both had snow pants on so they explored a few minutes longer.






Even though it was cold and windy we still had a lot of fun exploring. I don't think I've ever been out to the National Park in the winter (or if I have it's been a long time).







I love this picture of my parents. We were walking back and they reached out to grab each other's mittens. I'd image holding hands with mittens on isn't the easiest, but they're pretty dedicated hand holders. Aren't they adorable?

-S

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Musical Therapy

It's been freezing lately and for some reason that's put me in a Keaton Henson mood. His soft, slowly drifting melodies can be played in the background or soaked up on their own for a full emotional experience. I hadn't listened to Henson in a while when I came across his song "Sarah Minor" on my Tumblr dashboard this morning. That spiraled into several hours of Henson background music as I got ready for the day. His music is the perfect combination of feeling and soothing, it's like the exact equation for musical therapy.

So in case you're like me and you need a little soothing on these harsh winter days, I thought I'd share some of my favorites. Starting with Henson's Tiny Desk Concert featuring three of his amazing songs off the album Birthdays, "You Don't Know How Lucky You Are," "Sweetheart What Have You Done To Us," and "You."


La Naissance ft. Ren Ford is a song off Henson's album Romantic Works. The album has been added to the long list of music that proves songs do not require words in order to make you truly feel something. I had a really hard time just choosing one song from this entire album, so I'd definitely recommend checking it out.


And lastly, the song "Sarah Minor" from the album Dear.
"Young love I feel you know me better than most. In spite of real distance we'll always be close."


-S

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Being Outdoorsy and 180 Degrees South

I've never considered myself an outdoorsy person. I'm not a fan of bugs, I'm allergic to pollen, and the last time I went camping was back in junior high with a friend's family (and even then it was in an RV). My brother has always been the outdoorsy one. He inherited my dad's love of the outdoors and I inherited my mom's love of electricity and running water. I don't think anyone believes I could survive going on my own adventure, especially me, and that's exactly why I want to. I want to be tough enough to stop letting all the little things get to me and start enjoying what's outside my window. I don't want to be afraid of the world.


For about a year now I've increasingly felt this desire to be more "outdoorsy." I don't exactly know what I mean by that other than being someone who enjoys spending time outside. My eyes are set on anything that has to do with going on an adventure; traveling, getting out of my comfort zone and going out into nature, whether that's hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, camping, or just going out for a nice bike ride in the fresh air.

Lately I feel like my soul has been craving mountains. I close my eyes and all I can see are trees and lakes settled below giant rock faces. Snow topped natural masterpieces demanding attention from those below. This is not something I've thought of my entire life. Mountains aren't a dream that I've been chasing and climbing for years, but a more recent pull. Suddenly, everywhere I look are pictures of nature like I've never seen it before. Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram seem to all at once be flooded with beautiful rock formations. I'm jealous that everyone else seems to have answered the mountains when they've called. I wish I had been able to appreciate it more when I was ten on our family vacation across the northern United States.


While searching through Netflix last week I found a movie called 180 Degrees South: Conquerors of the Useless. The film follows Jeff Johnson on the trip of his life to Patagonia, Chile. A trip that was inspired by Doug Tompkins and Yvon Chouinard's adventure there in 1968. I could not get over how beautiful the film was. Watching the movie didn't satisfy my cravings for mountains, but only left me wanting more. If you're looking for the definition of outdoorsy, I think this is where you'd find it. The movie was a feast for the eyes, as well as a history lesson. Listening to the two men speak about the land and their beliefs on people's role in nature preservation, was very inspiring. I learned from chats with my great grandma that there's nothing better than listening to the ideas of individuals who have been around longer than you. Those people have experienced the world from a different angle and can offer all sorts of wisdom. The film didn't come off, like some documentaries do, as a propaganda campaign that's forcing it's ideas on you. Instead I felt like I was sitting down with these men having a relaxed conversation about their lives and philosophies.



"In response to people who say you can't go back. Well what happens when you get to the cliff? Do you take one step forward or do you make a 180 degree turn and take... one step forward? Which way are you going? Which is progress?" - Doug Tompkins

I often joke about running away to live in a cabin in the woods. Sometimes the world gets overwhelming and I get frustrated with how much we rely on technology. There's nothing that makes me more upset than meeting up with friends only to have them play around on their phone the entire time. I'm sure there's been times I've depended on my phone or computer a little too much, but for the most part I try to stay away from those things when I can actually talk to people. I figure there's no way I'd survive more than a week in the woods on my own, but a girl can dream. On the other hand, these men from 180 Degrees South live their lives in the pursuit of experiencing nature. They've spent their years not necessarily in the pursuit of growing a business, but developing connections with people and the earth.


Doug Tompkins, co-founder of North Face, was the epitome of 180 Degrees South. After doing more research, I found out that Tompkins took his own 180 degree turn when he sold North Face back in 1969 and later when he left the business world for good in the late 1980's. He was concerned with the environmental impact of the fashion industry and decided he no longer wanted to be a part of it. From there Tompkins purchased land for Conservacion Patagonica where he and his wife now live and work full time. Doug Tompkins has completely dedicated his life to preserving what he loves the most. You have to really admire someone who changes their entire life based on their beliefs. It takes real integrity and strength to follow through with those plans.

In the film there seemed to be a noticeable difference in the personalities of Tompkins and Chouinard. Here's two men who have the same type of goals but are going about it on different ends of the spectrum. Although the movie focuses on both men, it really didn't go into as much detail about Chouinard's side. Johnson talked a lot about Tompkin's preservation projects, but didn't talk about the work that Chouinard has put into growing a responsible company and promoting conscious consumerism. While researching more information on Yvon Chouinard I was really inspired by the way he runs Patagonia and his dedication to the education of other companies. Yvon Chouinard has kept Patagonia on the cutting edge of environmental responsibility. In a large sense Chouinard seems to be running his company against typical business advice, from dedicating catalog space to field notes to encouraging customers not to buy his products.

Although the two men are different they both live by example. They follow their intuition and protect what they love. The movie brought up a lot of questions, but mostly it got me thinking about what is important to me. What do I love enough to protect? Maybe I've never considered myself to be outdoorsy but I have always loved nature. I live in this city that is surrounded by water and natural beauty. I want to be able to appreciate the outside environment as much as possible before anything destroys it.


"A friend once told me that the best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn't even think to ask." - Jeff Johnson

Doug Tompkins, Yvon Chouinard, and the other people featured in 180 Degrees South seem to all do what they want instead of just talk about doing it. Sometimes I feel like I'm hitting on the same issues over and over again. I want to do something or to be a certain way so much that I forget to look at all the little things I'm doing to get myself there. I'm too impatient and forget that the end goal isn't the only thing that matters. If I already love nature and spend more and more time outside, then doesn't that mean I'm already outdoorsy? Life isn't about a label as much as it is about acting in a way that supports your beliefs. For the time being, I will just continue to venture outside as much as possible, try new things when I want to, and make decisions with environmental sustainability in mind.

-S

*Besides the movie, I found a lot of information on Tompkin's and Chouinard's respective wikipedia pages. As far as the pictures are concerned, most of them are not mine. The ones I found have the source links. Hopefully one of these days I will be able to photograph the mountains myself.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Music I've Been Loving Lately 2

2015 has welcomed album announcements from some of my favorite bands. So far The Decemberists and The Lone Bellow have exceeded my high expectations. Although I'd recommend listened to their entire albums, since every song is worth sharing, I thought I'd try to choose favorites that maybe you haven't heard yet. The other songs on the list have all been stuck in my head at one point or another this past month.

The Lake by The Decemberists

Watch Over Us by The Lone Bellow

Elastic Heart by Sia (I think a lot of people have found this video weird, but I absolutely love it.)

Von by Sigur Ros (Not new but definitely a top contender this month. It's been the perfect song to fit my mood lately.)

Earned It by The Weeknd (Yeah this is from 50 Shades of Grey. The soundtrack for the movie has begun to look like another Twilight style gold nugget in what might possibly be a horrendous film, but we shall see. I've always really liked The Weeknd's musical style and this song immediately jumped out at me. It's sexy and it knows it.)

What have been your musical obsessions lately?

-S

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge

When I was thinking about my reading goals for 2015 I came across Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge. The challenge really seems to focus on reading from a diverse range of authors, genres, and cultures that maybe one wouldn't normally choose to read on their own. I love the idea of reading more diversely and putting more thought into type of books I choose to read.


A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25: White Teeth by Zadie Smith

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65: Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter

A collection of short stories: Tenth of December by George Saunders

A book published by an indie press: The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ: Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

A book that takes place in Asia: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

A book by an author from Africa: The Stranger by Albert Camus

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

A microhistory: Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World by Mark Pendergrast

A YA novel: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

A sci-fi novel: Dune by Frank Herbert

A romance novel: Rule by Jay Crownover

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A book that is retelling of a classic story: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

An audiobook: More Than This by Patrick Ness

A collection of poetry: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

A book that someone else has recommended to you: The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart

A book that was originally published in a different language: The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind: Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isobel Greenberg

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

A book published before 1850: Candide by Voltaire

A book published this year: One More Thing by B. J. Novak

A self-improvement book: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

I'm really excited about this list of books. If possible, I tried to choose from books I already own and haven't read first, although there were still quite a few categories that nothing I had fit into. I'm hoping to read more than one book in each category, but here's what I've chosen for now. I've already finished three audiobooks this year so I'll definitely have that category covered at least. As for the "a book published this year" category, I actually made this list closer to the start of January and hadn't done any research on books being published in 2015 yet. Hopefully I'll be able to find a book that's actually being published this year to swap with One More Thing.

So what do you think? Are you planning on participating in any reading challenges this year?

-S

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Be Open to Art


I don't typically spend time reading the comment section on Youtube because more often than not it's just a bunch of people saying mean things to each other. However I did find a comment on the video above that I just had to share.

The first person commented asking, "am I the only one that thinks this is some incredibly ugly dancing?" to which one person wrote this amazing response, "I feel like it's very naive of you to say "art must be pretty". If you feel that for you to enjoy art, you want it to be aesthetic, then fine, thats perfectly valid, but to disqualify all other forms of art or artistic expression by saying it isn't art because it isn't "pretty" is really narrow minded and truthfully pretty insensitive. Art is supposed to elicit an emotional response. Emotions aren't always pretty. Just because you don't feel something in response to a dance or a song or whatever it might be, doesn't mean that it isn't someone's art. Art basically has no rules or boundaries. As an artist myself, I don't care if you don't like what I create, just don't disregard, devalue or minimize it due to your personal preconceptions about art. That's almost like saying a woman isnt a woman if she isn't pretty."

Pretty powerful words.

-S