Cleaning Up

Well, everything on these sites and subdomains has officially become a mess. The final product that I’m working on building will take a lot of time and I still haven’t decided if it’s what I want to do. Putting subdomains out there will make it more difficult to archive my posts in the future. That’s something I’m a little terrified about. If I create something, I don’t want it to disappear. Why put effort in a product that could be deleted tomorrow?

Anyways, I don’t mean to complain again. It’s what I spent a lot of time today doing and I feel no closer to where I want to be. It’s a learning process and I know it will take time. If somehow you’re reading this, you’ve managed to get past my static front page. Congrats. Or I’ve disabled it. Don’t know if it’s going to stay or go in the next few days.

In other news, I hope you have had a wonderful weekend. The weather here was beautiful and I was glad to get out and enjoy it. It’s going to be unusual getting used to summer year ’round. I don’t know if I like it yet. Lush greens in late October feels a little wrong. We’ll see I guess.

BLOGtober day twenty five!

Working on Old Projects

Sometimes life gives you exactly what you need. I’ve been over stretching myself lately with a project that seems too big to handle. It’s stressed me out even though I’m under no obligation to complete or work on it. For months, I’ve shoved it to the back of my head. Today was one of the days where it roamed back to the front of my mind again.

Staying motivated for projects that are completely voluntary can be difficult. God knows 365 projects are rough at times. Yet, when they are complete, it feels good to have worked on them. I’m pumped about this project and can’t wait to start working on it again.

Also, I randomly ran across a friend’s video. Joel is so inspiring, I encourage you to check out his work on Flickr.

BLOGtober day twenty!

My Best Friend Signe

In 10th grade, my history teacher introduced a girl with blond hair and eyes the color of glaciers. She said that her name was Signe and she was an exchange student visiting from Denmark. We sat on opposite sides of the classroom. It feels like yesterday that I met her.

Each time there was a group project, I always ended up in her group. I would walk across the class and ask to be part of whatever she was doing. I don’t know what intrigued me about her. It made me feel like a dork always walking over and asking her stuff. But I did it anyways.

It also happened that I was a photographer for our school newspaper. I was a total dork. One of the articles that they wanted to do in the fall involved the foreign exchange students. I was assigned to take a picture of each of them. That’s when I met a few other students and became part of exchange group.

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Photo of Signe and Catalina for the newspaper

Eventually we started hanging out after school. She lived across the street from our high school. That turned to movie nights. We’d watch ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and walk to the grocery store. We’d buy the most American food we could find.

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The year progressed and we spent a lot of time together. She became involved in my photo shenanigans and we did a lot of stuff around the Twin Cities. We even ended up at a random Bon Jovi concert.

At the concert!
At the show!

In that spring, we went to Prom together. We were also hosting French exchange students at the time, so we all went as a large group. We rented a limo and threw a party before we went.  It was a good time.

Pre-dance

We had a lot of good memories together during her stay in America. She visited from summer of 2009 to the summer of 2010. It was really hard to see her go…

That winter I flew to Denmark over Thanksgiving break and visited her. She showed me Svendborg and I got to taste Danish culture. It was the first time I got to experience a culture outside the typical European countries. Their currency was odd to adjust to and their language is impossible to understand.

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“Culture”

There are so many things wrong with this picture. What was going on with my hair? Look at them wine coolers. I was pretty intense at 15 years old. 

*legal age is younger in Denmark

 

Signe and I stayed in touch after I flew home. We Skyped often and stayed up-to-date through Facebook. In 2012, I went back and visited her again. This time she was living in Nyborg, a city in northern Fyn. We took the train around the country and visited Fredericia, Odense, and Faaborg.

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Famous rock in Faaborg
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I didn’t get the ‘pirate’ memo

I guess what I’m trying to say through this post is that I’ve had a good time. Signe has been one of my closest friends through the years. Every time I’m going through a rough patch and I call her, it seems she is too. We’re on the same wavelength often and I can’t imagine what life would have been life if we hadn’t met. It all seems to go back to that history class, where I was drawn to the girl with blond hair and eyes the color of glaciers.

BLOGtober day thirteen!

Catching up!

Well, I’ve decided that I want to do a Guide to Blogging. The art is dying and part of it is due to how complex it feels to build a site. It’s easier to create an Instagram account or log on Facebook. While microblogging is great, I think there is a lot of value in old school blogging. Some of the topics that I’ll cover include:

  • What blogging is (and isn’t)
    • The different between blogging and microblogging
  • Short history of the web-log
  • Choosing a platform (WordPress, Blogspot, Squarespace)
  • WordPress.COM vs WordPress.ORG
  • What to write about
  • Basic navigation for WordPress based sites
  • How to customize and design your page

It’ll be a lot of fun, so look out for it in November!

I realized a little late that today is National Coming Out day! (my gay card is gonna be revoked). I want to share more about it tomorrow when I’m in a better mindset. I don’t think I’ve shared my full coming out story, so I’ll do that.

There are also a few posts I need to catch up on. A few of them include:

  • finishing posting the 2010-2011 365 photography project
  • road trip to the East Coast (and Germany)
  • hiking Jones Gap, SC
  • camping at Santee, SC
  • visiting Raven Cliff Falls, SC

I have many more posts to catch up on but those are a couple. Each post is in a varying state of completion. Hopefully, by the end of BLOGtober, they’ll all be posted!

Anyways, happy National Coming Out day and day ten of BLOGtober!

Contrast

I’m too many contrasting elements. Scattered, unique, sane, together, conformed, and crazy. It seems paradoxical to contain opposites. So I try to form something linear. I write about my life, then next I write about another person’s life. Next I’m talking about art, then travel. Nothing about it is linear.

As an artist, I value authenticity in my work. Yet, I also value organization. Those are conflicting ideals for me. I am not organized and trying to only share part of myself feels unauthentic. Writing only a travel blog feels limiting. Strictly sharing art feels limiting.

These are all parts of me and it’s impossible to arrange them in a beautiful way. Some days I’m chaotic, while others I’m calm. This weekend, I’m lacking words. It’s not that I don’t feel or am doing nothing, it’s just that words aren’t at the forefront of my mind.

So, I want to conclude day nine of BLOGtober by saying that I’m sorry. I need to spend some time sitting down and trying to figure out what I want to do. It’s hard to contain so many opposites and to share them openly. Tonight is just one of thosenights.

TGIF

Well, TGIF everyone. The weekend is finally here – and for federal employees it’s a 3-day! With how chaotic work has been this week, I’m glad I can finally relax and sleep in. SOHN is on the speakers and I’m feeling like turning down the lights and opening a book. Is there anything better after a long day?

Tonight I don’t have a lot of subject matter. I got off work late again and my brain is fried. Tomorrow and over the next few days, I have a lot of ideas and I’m excited to work on them. Cheers, I hope your Friday night has been excellent! 🙂

The Perfect Moment

Back at my parent’s home in Minnesota, there’s a 3-season porch littered with furniture. There’s mismatching couches and a coffee table covered in books. The books are piled in uneven stacks that flood over to the floor and the couches are covered in blankets.

My favorite one is the longest couch. I can lay head to toe without my feet dangling over the edge. The blanket that covers this couch was crocheted by my grandmother. It’s a rainbow and keeps me warm on rainy days.

The porch windows are left open and the breeze flows freely through. At the end of the day, the breeze russels the trees and cools the porch. The scent of neighborhood bonfires sifts through and adds a deep wooded smell.

My cat lives at my parents house. Her fur is black and white. The colors divide sharply on her neck, creating the look of a handkerchief. She often comes out to the porch and lies on my feet as I read books on the couch covered in a rainbow afghan.

These are perfect moments to me. The furniture mismatches, the area is a mess, and sometimes the cool breeze chills straight to the bones, but this is a different kind of perfect. One centered on appreciation of the imperfect.

Sure, the house could be clean and the couches could match. But that would take away from the personality of it all. I love the chilly air and the cat that sometimes decides to claw at my feet. That is my perfect moment. Laced with good and bad.

What is your perfect moment? Where do you go when your mind wanders and needs a break? Hope you’re all having a wonderful day eight of BLOGtober!

patio

Surrounded in Love

Don’t ask why I decided to stare at the TV for the last 7 hours before writing a blog post. Usually I don’t spend much time playing videogames but I didn’t have work tonight. There wasn’t anything else I wanted to do other than relax and, hey, why do I have to justify myself to you. My brain is a champ though, I’m surprised I’m awake enough to write. *dozes off

Speaking of which, last night I had an interesting dream. Moving away from friends felt a little traumatic and it’s been hard for me to reminisce without feeling nostalgic. It’s been easier to push it all out rather than feel this weird ache for “the good times”. But I dreamt I was at one of my old friend’s house playing board games with everyone. There wasn’t a pit in my stomach, I just felt… happy.

Usually I sleep solid through the night but I woke up after this dream. I laid in bed with a deep feeling of love. I felt content having had the experiences back in Charleston – and I no longer felt the need to go back and mentally relive those memories. It didn’t feel like letting go but I wasn’t desperately clinging to the past. All I felt was love. A love for my friends, a love for the places I visited, and a love for life.

I laid on my back content for what felt like ages. Eventually I rolled over to the nightstand and wrote on a post-it-note, “I’m so lucky”. I believed it too. I deeply appreciated the people who had wandered through my life and the circumstances which had led me to this part of my life journey. I appreciated both the good and the bad that happened to me.

It felt natural to have this experience. There was no desire to go backwards (or to skip forward, for that matter). I was at peace. The only expression that comes to mind is that it felt like “coming home”. I’ve read that phrase through numerous books but never understood it in the way that I do now.

Last night, I came home to myself. I laid in bed in awe of life. I felt my body’s weight and the way the pillow sat under my head. I was conscious of so much. I feel like a restraint within me has broken and I can move freely again. Oh, how wonderful it feels to be surrounded by so much love. I’m so lucky to have friends and to be alive.

Or… maybe my body just realized it’s humpday and the three-day weekend is approaching. Eh? Eh? :-p There’s joy in making it half way through the week without succumbing to workplace depression. ALSO, one week complete of BLOGtober. What on Earth am I going to do when this month is over?!

Day seven of BLOGtober complied with. Over and out.

OH! Go check out Björk’s song ‘All is Full of Love’, totally applicable emotion of the day!

Over and out for real this time. ;-P

The Meaning of Life

It’s late, so today’s post is going to be briefer than usual.

After work, there was a guy sitting outside of his dorm room a few doors down from mine. We met a few weeks ago during a fire drill. Everyone in the dorms evacuated downstairs and while we were waiting, I introduced myself. He was reading a book by Deepak Chopra and seemed like an interesting guy.

Our conversation cut off after the fire alarms stopped ringing and we didn’t get to really have a deep conversation. Over the last couple weeks we’ve walk passed each other and exchanged head nods and hellos.

Well, when I got off today, he was sitting outside writing in a book. I awkwardly said hello and asked him to if he wanted to talk. I didn’t know what about but I don’t meet many people who read. I walked into my room and changed quickly. When I walked back out, I sat on the ground next to him and we started talking about books.

The conversation delved quickly into the meaning of life. He talked about how our purpose in life is to pursue happiness. Ultimately the desire to be happy. An interesting, if not cliché, idea. I was more than okay to discuss this with him. I’ve read enough Buddhist books to feel equipped for this kind of conversation.

He went on about happiness was the meaning of life. I played devil’s advocate and asked him if sadness was the opposite of this goal. Is the point of life to avoid sadness? He disagreed, then continued on about happiness. I asked him if he was happy. “No”. Then I asked him why not.

His answer started to fade out in my head. He started labeling the reasons he wasn’t happy. As if there was this resistance around him that prevented him from achieving happiness. I’m not saying this to invalidate his logic or beliefs but rather to discuss my reaction to it.

He brought up what’s going on in his life, what he’s doing, how he’s pursuing happiness but it just faded in my head. All I could think was how he wasn’t choosing happiness. There was no resistance. It was just him. Nothing in his life was preventing his happiness, only he was.

When I told him that, he said that maybe he wasn’t ready for happiness. Everything within me rumbled. He was pursuing happiness by trying to understand it. He wanted to know what it was, how it got there, and why he should feel it. Yet, the purpose of life, in his head, is to have happiness. He couldn’t have happiness until he understood it.

I asked him if he needed to understand happiness to have happiness. He said no, but he just wants to understand why he’s so resistant to it. Why this and why that. There were so many questions that were getting in the way. Big fancy questions about life that ultimately served no purpose.

These questions used to drive me mad. I wanted to know. Deeply within my being, I wanted to understand happiness and why people feel happy or sad. The questions would feel like a weight on my shoulder. I could only have what I understood emotionally. If I didn’t know what happiness was exactly, how would I know if I had it.

Over time, I’ve realized that these questions, while they seem important, often aren’t. There’s no way I could calm his mind and say “be happy”. He has to find that himself. He’ll pursue understanding of many things – and that’s alright. Maybe he’ll find happiness in a way that I haven’t.

I bring this up because I learned a lot about myself today. He felt like a reflection. I resisted happiness and wanted to understand it. I wanted to know things which are ultimately unimportant. Why my relationships have failed, why I’ve chosen this life path working in the military, what am I going to do to be happy when I finished my contract.

These questions are distractions from happiness. Seeing him fumble through these questions made me realize how much I’ve been focusing on removing obstacles from my happiness. The only block in my path is me. I’m the one who distracting myself and blaming circumstance for my unhappiness.

It seems so simple now. There’s no way I could properly communicate my understanding of this. I tried to explain it to him. Understanding doesn’t always equal happiness. Knowing how to be happy doesn’t make you happy. (As I shout this last sentence at my bookcases filled with self-help guides).

While these are noble pursuits, they don’t bring you what you want. In fact, there’s nothing out there that you don’t already have within yourself. If you want happiness, then take it in. Really appreciate it when you have it.

I don’t think the purpose of life is to seek happiness. I think seeking happiness leads to unhappiness. The purpose of life seems to be to experience life to the fullest. Feel every emotion as deep as it is. That means happiness, sadness, anger, bitterness, bliss, and the wide variety of emotions that you feel on a daily basis. Really take them in. Experience them.

When you walk, feel your feet hitting the floor. When you eat, really taste the food. When you lay in bed, really sink in and feel it. That is my current view on life. Not to say it’s right or wrong but it’s what I’ve learned thus far. Talking to my neighbor today really highlighted that belief. You can choose to take everything and experience it… or you can try to understand it and examine it at every angle. Neither is better than the other. Life is just life.

Anyways, this post is becoming longer than I anticipated and much more existential than it needs to be. It’s almost 0300. I need to hit the hay.

If I haven’t said it enough already, go check out my cousin Tabby’s blog. She’s writing everyday for the month of BLOGtober. AND… AND… she just redesigned her blog. Go give it a looksey through this LINK. Today she wrote an update about living at home while her husband is deployed. It’s worth a read. Her deployment series is interesting – since I haven’t experienced it yet, I enjoy reading her perspectives on it.

Happy day five of BLOGtober!

 

Sitting Down and Writing

The most difficult part of writing, I’ve found, is starting. It’s easy to find ways to avoid the process. Sometimes I make excuses or purposefully become busy to escape. But the thought always comes back. Sit down and write. You have something you want to say. That’s what fuels this sort of writing. Why does that desire keep returning?

It’s all chaos. Each time I sit down my mind goes in one thousand directions. There’s nothing cohesive. Even reading the lines as they slowly appear is agonizing. This sentence doesn’t match the one before it. They won’t understand what you are trying to say. Delete it. Start over. Make it better. Write more clearly. Edit. Filter it. It becomes unbearable. Some days it feels like I’m walking through tar.

The motivation to create startles me. This need for expression doesn’t make sense. If I’m this critical of what I’m writing, why should I even begin? I contemplate as I write this, if I even want to share it. It’s embarrassing to be open. Yet I know this sort of creation is necessary.

When I created this site, I was regularly blogging. Each day I wrote 100 words. It feels wrong to say that writing was easier then. It was a skill, something I honed through hours of sitting in front of the screen. Putting thought to word. I don’t have that now. I’m undisciplined.

However, that’s not an excuse to avoid writing. If anything, that’s a reason to sit down and focus. I need to write. It sharpens my mind. When I do it regularly, I feel as though my thoughts are linear. They become digestible. The chaos doesn’t clear up, but it becomes bearable.

This is the spirit of writing regularly. Whether it be BLOGtober, a 365 project, or anything in between. It’s sitting down and getting through the chaos. Pushing past the perfectionist that only wants to share content once it’s been revised 1,000 times. It’s ignoring the urge to get up and do some mindless activity to avoid not knowing what to write or create.

Not every day is difficult. Some days I rush to computer to tell you about my day. Photographs sometimes build themselves and come easily. I have notebooks of ideas and post-it-notes on my walls. Yet, confronting the blank canvas is a process that takes time to get used to.

It’s like standing on stage for your elementary school band concert and suddenly the lights shine in your face. You can see everyone in the audience. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve practiced, sometimes that light will shock you. Blank canvases do the same thing occasionally. But it’s not about that. It’s about getting on stage and playing anyways. Over time it gets better but sometimes that light will still shock you.

Anyways, enough about writing. Have you listened through this mix of Kygo’s music? That link goes to YouTube, so anyone can listen to it. It’s the perfect combination of songs to start the day. My friend introduced it to me a couple weeks ago and I put it on all the time for motivation.

Happy day four of BLOGtober everyone!

(Orig. 20150727)