Thursday, July 19, 2012

The smell before rain.

Lately my life has been very cyclical; periods of happiness, calm and productivity slowly melt into tiring yet satisfying busy days, which in turn begin to eat away at my perseverance until I'm completely overwhelmed. I'm not complaining; having a few bad days once a month is worlds better than a never-ending depressive slump. However, I've had to discover better stress-releases and coping mechanisms to keep myself afloat on those days where I'd rather just stay in bed. For me, the most important thing is never to give in to the darkness of depression again, so even when I feel I can't go on, I must.

One of these coping mechanisms is to drop everything, dress myself in feelings and run outside to take pictures. Yesterday was a particularly stressful and tiring day at camp, with temperatures peaking 100 degrees fahrenheit before a massive thunderstorm, and a number of personal issues cast a dark shadow on my day. I finally dropped everything, grabbed my vest and bandana, smudged some makeup on and dashed out into the post-rain world with my camera and tripod. The overcast sunset lighting was perfect, and the water reflecting off the driveway was calling my name. Half an hour later I trudged back inside, soaking wet, but it was more than worth it. The photos came out beautifully (see more on my Flickr), and after endeavoring on a self-photoshoot with a dying camera, I was able to look upon my feelings and concerns with a clearer, calmer head.

Photography is so freeing in that it urges you to step out of your comfort zone and do things you wouldn't normally do. For what other reason would I find myself sitting on the driveway after a rainstorm? And yet, the simple act of laying there under cloudy skies, with water soaking through my skin, could not have been more calming. (It reminds me of a quote by Bob Marley; "Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.") Sometimes, all we need is to stop for five minutes and think of nothing but the moment we are in, the ground we are stepping on, the sky above our heads. If I were not a photographer, I would most likely not experience these solitary moments of peace and calm. Nor would I see the beauty in a small yellow leaf on the side of the road or the way the light hits the folds of a blanket. Photography has caused me to move mountains to create beauty, and trained my eye to find it in the strangest of places. Perhaps it won't be my path in life, but I shall certainly never forget the lessons it has taught me, nor lose my passion for the little details that make a good life great.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

{lately; an abundance of summer}


Lately I've explored...
abandoned houses in the middle of the woods with my friend Karsch! It felt like we were those stupid people walking into the haunted house. So spooky, but thoroughly intriguing. Everything on the inside and all the doors and windows were smashed, but the structure was totally intact. Monster movie set? I think so.

I've seen...
my South-African friend Gabi for the first time in a year! She was visiting New York on holiday, and since I live so close to NYC, I was able to meet up with her and show her around a bit! This photo of us was taken on the top of the Rockefeller tower. In the background you will see the Empire State building!

I've discovered...
that my hair kinda-sorta-maybe goes into a ponytail. Get excited.

I've had...
a party with my closest friends. More on this to come; I have a plethora of amusing photos to share. In this shot, we're laying about in the bounce house that my family owns and keeps in our garage. I know. We own a bounce house. Best thing ever.

I've laughed with...
Russell, a co-counselor of mine at ecology camp on a local reservation. He dressed up as the Leatherman (local legend/real hobo from the 1880s) and hiked up to surprise our nine-year-old campers as we finished telling them the Leatherman's story. I'll probably spend a post talking about this camp at a later date, especially because it's taking up so much of my time lately!

Due to my spending the majority of my days this month trekking through the woods with a mob of boisterous, adorable children, posts will be sparser until July is over. I'll definitely attempt to write posts in advance and set them on a schedule, though.

☀ {lately has been full of laughter, sunshine, and adventure} ☀

Friday, July 6, 2012

On a healthy lifestyle

Breakfast: mini everything bagel with butter, grapes, and limeade with a splash of pomegranate juice.

Did you know? Back when bagels were first invented, they were the size of today's mini-bagels. And have you ever wondered why juice is so many calories? Well, take a look at vintage juice glasses; they're meant to hold three ounces, not eight. Humans, in America especially, have super-sized everything, from foods to houses to people themselves!

This super-sized mentality leads to unhealthfulness in a plethora of ways. Portions are enormous; you're only supposed to ingest three ounces of red meat a day, and yet most restaurants sell ten- or twelve-ounce steaks and burgers. People looking to lose weight often don't realize that it's portion size, not the type of food they're eating, that's doing the most damage, and start eating processed diet foods that actually slow down the fat-burning process. Those taking the exercise route of weight-loss tend to over-exert themselves or even exercise to the point of unhealthfulness (yes, it is possible to have too much muscle). And let's not forget the legions of individuals who yearn for a healthier lifestyle, but are overwhelmed by what seems to be a ton of work to get there.

Let me tell you: being healthy is simple. You don't have to exercise three hours a day. You don't have to eat only vegetables and protein bars. It's quite easy, really. There are a few basic rules: stay away from processed foods, savor each bite, and get up on your feet as much as possible.

The key to nutrition is to eat real foods. If you can't pronounce something on the ingredients list, put it back on the shelf. Our body is not meant to process chemicals and synthetic sweeteners and lab-made fat substitutions. Take a look at the ingredients list before you toss that package of ramen or low-fat cookies in the cart. It may boast "100 calories!" or "Low-fat" or "Now with 75% less sugar!!", but you'd be better off eating a 400-calorie, fresh-baked all-natural muffin than eating those "healthy" snacks. So if you want a cookie, consider baking them yourself instead of buying processed Chips-Ahoy. It'll probably taste a lot better, anyway.

Humans have adopted to a sedentary lifestyle. The majority of adults wake up, sit in their car on the way to work, sit at their desk all day, and sit in their car on the way back, anxious to get home and--guess what?--sit down on the couch and relax. Pause. Rewind. What?
Even if you work a desk-job, you can incorporate a bit of movement into your day by parking your car far away, taking the stairs, even just taking a few short strolls around the office. It'll most likely even increase your productivity and put you in a better mood!  Exercise doesn't have to mean a grueling ab workout or a gym membership. This morning, I went for a jog around the neighborhood, and spent ten minutes jogging and the other ten walking. Even if you take a short walk every day, you'd be in a lot better shape than if you didn't! 

So try it out. Ignore the super-sized foods and the super-sized ads pushing them on you. Eat fruit. Walk around a bit. If you go out to eat and have a big meal, take half of it home and have it for lunch the next day. Don't wolf your food down, but enjoy every bite. Instead of spending your days off lazing about, work on a project around the house or go for a hike. It's not difficult to live a healthy lifestyle, and once you start, you won't go back!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Outfit; back to basics

It's not your typical fourth-of-July outfit, but it's my typical style. And besides, how can I resist wearing half of the new things I got while shopping with Bayley yesterday?

shirt/forever 21. shorts/pacsun. shoes/forever 21.
bow/forever 21. earrings/gifted; from nantucket.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Appreciating everyday life.

An aspect of blogging that I both love and hate is the selective nature of it. You get to present yourself at your best, with your most brilliant ideas, during the highlights of your week. However, showing only the organized, cheerful, exciting part of yourself is a little bit dehumanizing, and I hate that.

You know why? Because I love being human. I love my "imperfections". I love my frizzy, curly hair and my oversized men's t-shirt and the faded, smudged eyeliner left on from yesterday. 

Yes, I can make myself look really nice and fancy and done-up when I want to. But let's be real. I wear jeans or shorts and a t-shirt almost every day of the week. I'm still a bit of a tomboy, and I just can't be bothered looking nice all the time. To those people who actually can, well, you go glen coco. Four for you. But that's not me, and I wouldn't change that for the world.

I think a lot of people are scared to be vulnerable or ignorant or weak. And I'm not going to say that being those things isn't a bummer, but there's no reason to be ashamed. Each day is an opportunity for growth. A few people I'm close with are struggling with depression, and the most common phrase I hear out of their mouths is "I can't." So I tell them, yes, you can, you're just afraid. If you think you're a bad conversationalist, that's all the more reason you should take a public speaking class. If you think you're too weak to exercise, it's in your best interest to hit the gym. If you can't embrace something about yourself, don't sit there brooding, because you have the power to change it.

I've become a positive thinker by necessity. I recently clawed my way out of the big black pit of depression, and I have vowed never to go back. So I put my mind into training. I flipped every negative thought and complaint on its head. I took advantage of every moment of my day. I learned to find a balance in my life between productivity and relaxation, friends and family, work and play. I'm still working at it, but you know what? I love life. I love life so much that it makes me want to dance and sing and hug my evil cat and lay in the middle of my lawn probably getting a hell of a sunburn and sit here writing a blog post about all of this with the biggest, stupidest grin on my face.

This was going to be a post about making the most of life by doing things like sitting outside with your computer or exercising while watching TV or something like that, but it turned into a big sappy inspirational speech.

Anyway, enjoy a black-and-white webcam selfie of my natural lazy-day face, and have yourself a wonderful Monday evening.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hello, July; Summer goals

As I've previously mentioned, I have a plethora of plans this summer and not enough time to execute them! So I thought I'd compile a small list of a few summer goals to get the ball rolling. (And in case you were wondering, that strapping young lad in the photo above is my younger brother. Shot on 400 iso colour film.)

1. Live in the moment. As much as I love photographic memories, some things just can't be captured on camera. Being present in the moment is the best way to take advantage of life's small joys and be truly happy. I chose not to bring my camera to last night's early Independence Day fireworks, and I had a truly magical time, crawling through a hole in the fence into the skate park and watching the fireworks laying next to some of my favorite people in the world. Another thing to consider is time wasted on the internet - blog posts and incoming emails will still be there when you get back, but a firefly-catching moment with your family won't last forever. 

2. Finish redecorating and organizing my room. This has been a very long process, folks. First time redecorating my room since my crazy bright-colours-everywhere phase in seventh grade, and I'm halfway through the process. I need to reorganize my desk area, add art to my walls, reupholster my couch, and add a few more finishing touches. If I don't finish this summer, I may go a little bit crazy.

3. Complete a summer scrapbook. I'll be posting about my first adventure into scrapbooking through the course of the summer. I intend to capture as much as I can of this already perfect summer in one little book... wish me luck!

4. Take care of my body. I've taken a great interest into nutrition lately, and this summer I plan to take care of my body the best I can. Eating balanced meals full of natural, unprocessed foods and taking daily walks - a simple, healthy summer lifestyle that I will eventually come to adopt from here on out! 

5. Schedule a bit of art, music, literature, and relaxation into my daily life. For a person with a million passions, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have to cut art short because I have other plans. This summer, I will try to make efficient and effective use of my time, and work writing, reading, drawing, and acting into my daily life. There are so many skills and interests of mine that I would love to further cultivate, and I intend to do so this summer. 

Essentially, this summer is about getting in touch with my personal universe. Challenging myself in every way and making each day beautiful. I'll be busy and I'll certainly collapse at the end of the day, but I'll come out of it with unforgettable memories and positive impacts to last a lifetime. So hello, July. Bring it on.