Nature is speaking

Have you seen the videos for Conservation International’s newest campaign? They have these gorgeous videos, with famous actors giving voice to different aspects of nature. Harrison Ford is the voice of the ocean. Robert Redford is the voice of the Redwood Forest. Kevin Spacey is the rainforest, and Julia Roberts is Mother Nature.

I think they’re really beautiful, and their campaign is really well done. And, for every time you use the hashtag #NatureIsSpeaking, $1 is donated to Conservation International. Here’s a few of the videos, and more can be found at their website. Watch, share, and be sure to use the hashtag! For more information on Conservation International and the work they are doing, visit www.conservation.org.

 

 

 

Happy Friday!

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This has been one of those weeks that has felt two days too long, so I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I’m going to do a lot of baking, and we’ve been invited to what looks to be the most amazing dinner party I’ve ever seen. I’m really excited about it!

Hope you have a relaxing weekend, and here’s what I’ve been looking at this week…


Why millennials are so individualistic

I love this casual, cozy look (and the rest of the collection!)

Meaning vs. happiness

I’ve found my life word

Really wanting this book to dive in deeper with essential oils

The most beautiful tea kettle

An easy way to spice up my everyday hairstyle 

A different kind of piano man (an oldie, but still fascinating)

Still waiting for my invitation to the always ad-free Ello

What I learned from Lena

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Have you read Lena Dunham’s new book?

If you’ve seen her amazing show Girls, then the content of this book will be quite familiar. There’s an essay about working in an overpriced children’s store, there’s a mention of popping her own eardrum out of anxiety, and there is line after line where you could just swear that you were hearing Hannah Horvath.

Of course, one should expect this- it’s not a secret that Hannah’s character is not-so-loosely based on Lena’s own life and experiences, and this book is proof. And while overall I came away enjoying the book as an escape, and as the words of a woman whose work and ambition I so admire, there was something that left me feeling unsettled.

I wasn’t unsettled by the garish retellings of her most horrific stories, although I could see how some would be. I think I was unsettled because I had heard this all before. I love Girls because while the story it tells is relatable, the characters are so wildly exaggerated, and you laugh because thank God your friends aren’t that crazy. But in reading the book, it became clear the characters are barely exaggerated, and the stories she are sharing in the pages of her book are ones I’ve all heard before.

This isn’t to say that there wasn’t some kind of wisdom being passed down, because there definitely is. She articulates beautifully why she loves being a woman. She defends the desire and necessity of sharing one’s story. And she wants girls to stop spending their time being made to feel bad about themselves by horrible men (both relationally and professionally). She is eloquent, and startling in the truths she shares. But I came away wishing I had seen more of writer-Lena, or director-Lena, or amazingly successful comedienne-Lena. But mostly what I saw was this now strangely confusing hybrid of Lena and the character she plays on TV, and frankly, I would never take Hannah’s advice, even if she is genuinely good-willed about it. I wanted to see a separation of Lena from her work. What I saw was that Girls is the real memoir, and this book is just a fun bonus-feature.

For me, I’m going to continue watching Girls, and I’m going to walk away from the book taking a few beautiful quotes with me, which I will leave for you to take as well:

“When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done. Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It’s something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated.”

“Respect isn’t something you command through intimidation and intellectual bullying. It’s something you build through a long life of treating people how you want to be treated and focusing on your mission.”

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter…But I want to tell my stories and, more than that, I have to in order to stay sane.”

“I consider being female such a unique gift, such a sacred joy, in ways that run so deep I can’t articulate them. It’s a special kind of privilege to be born into the body you wanted, to embrace the essence of your gender even as you recognize what you are up against. Even as you seek to redefine it.”

 

So what did you think? Did you read it? Will you?

A dream to remember

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Do you believe in dreams? By that I mean, do you ever wake and know that your dream meant something real? I’m a big believer in the power of dreams, and I had one last night that was so encouraging to me that I just wanted to share.

First, a little backstory. This last year has been one of questions for me. I’ve done a lot of self-examination, a lot of mental wandering…wondering about vocation vs. hobby, who I am vs. who I want to be, etc. I can visualize the kind of life and work and meaning I want to have and bring to the world, but I have such a hard time finding the way there, and so much impatience about how long it’s taking, that I often wonder if these visions of the future hold any weight, if they could ever come to pass.

Back to the dream. I dreamt that I was wearing my wedding dress, and my hair was down, and loose. I was in a large open field, under a tree. There were lots of people surrounding me, including some I admire and know only by their work. Everyone was smiling and connecting with each other. In front of me was hanging a rope, the kind you would use to swing into a lake. I knew that if I got on this rope and swung on it while wearing my wedding dress in front of all of these people, it would look really silly, but I also knew that it would mean I had come to my fullest potential and finally become the truest expression of myself. I was kind of nervous, but I was laughing and everyone around me was encouraging me, “Get on the rope! Do it! You have to!” Finally I just decided to give in to it, and I climbed on the rope and started swinging, in front of everyone. I was going higher and higher, my wedding dress and my hair were flying out behind me and I felt completely free, with the purest sense of joy. Everyone was clapping and just so happy. Joy was the only emotion anyone had. My field of vision kind of panned out and I saw myself, swinging, surrounded by all of these people, and I was totally free of any fears or insecurities, basking in complete fullness of self, joy, and purpose.

When I woke up, I just knew that this dream was meant as an encouragement. Despite all the fears and gnawing, daily insecurities I may have about my talents, my work, my passions, my life and relationships…if I just move forward and swing on that rope despite it, I will accomplish those dreams. And I have so much support. It was like the whole world was saying, “You have to lay down your fears and just start swinging…we’ve got you.”

 

(photo of my sister-friend, Jen, in La Casa del Árbol Baños, Ecuador)

Missing out

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As an introvert, talking to people I don’t know is not something I really enjoy doing and it’s usually not very high on my priority list. I tend to keep my head down when I walk, avoiding eye contact unless absolutely necessary. I can make small talk just fine for a while, and I sometimes even enjoy the kinds of spontaneous conversations that can come up, but the truth is, if I don’t have to, I’m most likely going to choose not to.

However, this sometimes conflicts with a deeply held belief of mine- to be kind, warm, and inviting. Often times we are not given enough time with people for them to “break through” the quieter introversion to see and feel the real warmth that lies underneath. Sometimes, only five minutes, sometimes two, are given to make a connection. And, as someone who has worked in customer service for almost a decade, I can attest to the real impact an amazing two minute conversation can make. I’ve always admired those who can make you feel seen, heard, and appreciated within such a short time span, and I’ve wanted to be that to those I meet as well. But I think I’ve let my own idea of what being introverted looks like get in the way.

What I’m trying to say is, in the past couple of weeks at my new job, I’ve been forced to meet an enormous amount of new people, and I have found that being able to make a quick, but genuine connection has been extraordinarily and surprisingly…wonderful. I haven’t let my nervousness about new people get in the way of showing them who I really am, and I’ve even felt emboldened to be the one to initiate contact! If you know me at all, you know I’ll avoid initiating just about everything, so this has been a huge (but positive) learning process for me. I’m learning that kindness, humility, gratefulness, and playfulness are really great connectors- and that making those kinds of connections are actually really, really wonderful, and not as difficult as I kept telling myself they would be. I’m learning that I can be true to both sides of myself: the one who enjoys quiet alone time, and the one who is kind and inviting. It looks a little different than how I imagined it to be, but I’m finding something great I never even knew I was missing out on.

(photo by Small Measure)

What’s your creative process?

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“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” -Chuck Close

“I’ve never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them, you will never write again.” -John Updike

For all you creatives out there…how do you stay motivated? I’ve read lots of writer’s routines, and Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird is a real staple of mine. But sometimes (most of the time) that just doesn’t cut it. The day to day of creative activity and thought comes much harder. There are an abundance of quotes regarding inspiration and hard work that I try to remind myself of (like the ones above), but I’m hoping to develop a manageable routine. Do any of you have a routine you stick to? Or are you more of a “as the wind moves me” type of person? I’d be interested in hearing how you keep the work and juices flowing.

P.S. I have found John Updike’s quote above to be incredibly true. Isn’t life outside of work always what we’d rather be doing?

(photo by my wonderfully talented friend, Josiah Norton)

A Steep Learning Curve

Amelia Earhart
I started a new job last week.

There’s nothing quite like a new job to remind oneself that there is always much, much more to be learned. It’s one thing to say in an interview, “I can do that” and think to yourself “I can probably figure that out” and then actually come into the job and realize that you haven’t figured it out yet…and you don’t quite know where to begin. Figuring it out can be very stressful.

But in the midst of the stress, I have this little feeling of pride. Here I am, figuring out how to do things on my own that before I never would have thought I could do without training! It’s amazing what you can learn when you have no other choice but to jump in and swim.

This week has shown me that I put so many limitations on myself. There is so much more I can do, so many more skills I can learn, than what I’ve thought about myself before. And that’s very liberating.

This week I am very grateful- for having this job, yes, but mostly for it teaching me so quickly that I am capable of more than I ever thought.

 

(photo of Amelia Earhart via NBC)