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Where Does Growth Reside?

Growth, comes in challenging yourself to go outside of what you have done before. If you’re afraid to do it in a current community– now is a great time to find an online community and/or class to challenge yourself to do something you’ve been holding back from. TL;DR? Below is a personal example of how now is perfect for personal growth.

For some time now, I’ve been taking a creative writing class. This week’s theme was ambiguity. I didn’t like the theme to begin with. Mystery or intrigue, sure, but I don’t particularly like ambiguity in what I read or write. My favorite fictional characters are usually smart-assed, sassy straight shooters, competent intellectual punks, or rebellious fighters for the underdogs. But back to the writing class.
One of the pieces I had to write in response to, I hated! So, of course, I threw myself into the exercise and wrote the best response piece I could. Writing an answering piece made me tear open a piece of myself I’ve rarely shared with such vulnerability. Until I wrote this piece, the band aid remained taped over, glued into place with time, humor, and self acceptance.
I didn’t realize how much I’d taped over it, until I wrote this piece. I purposefully used gender neutral pronouns until the end of my piece, not just to highlight ambiguity, but to amplify how the end drills home. Like a Cabernet red wine, I twisted my ending to have a more satisfying, savory ending than the model piece, despite the bittersweet feel.
I’m normally quite confident in presenting my pieces in class, but when it was my turn, I struggled to find my normal emphasis and zest. When I ran out of words and the page trailed into nothing… I sat there, in deafening silence, almost afraid to look up at the screen.
The positive feedback resounded so strongly, it practically knocked me on my ass. One fellow writer-in-training even said I should enter it into a contest. BOOM, my brain and heart exploded.
Growth, comes from a place of vulnerability, of discomfort, and of knowing you are not an expert.

The Solar Eclipse!

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Where in the world are you making your plans to see the Eclipse?

The solar eclipse is only a few weeks away! On August 21st, we’re going to have one heck of a day! Make no mistake either, it’ll be in the afternoon, at least in the US. I’m in the midst of planning travels to one of the regions where I’ll be able to fully see it. I’ll either end up in the Nashville, TN region or upstate SC region. If you’re unsure where to see the Solar Eclipse in your region or closest to your region, check out google and/or NASA. If you’re outside of the direct line of sight, you should still be able to see it, but you might not get the full experience.

If you still aren’t quite sure where you’ll be watching the eclipse, you can check out this link to see where the best places near you are:
North American Trajectory of Solar Eclipse

Make sure to have protective eye gear for it! Wouldn’t want to hurt your pearly eyes! 😉
The short and sweet of it is you need to make sure it’s ISO certified.
Are your glasses legit? More info here : Washington Post Guide to Eclipse Glasses

Psst, if you can’t see the eclipse, NASA has a livestreaming of it:
Click here for the live stream link!

Photo credit to: NASA

Sleep, Come Backkk!

chasing sleep

Sleeeeeeep, where are you?? Come back *echooo echoo echo*

Two months into my nomadic travels, head deep in reading others’ wanderlust blogs, I’ve found one of the things that seems to be skipped is how important sleep is. Seriously– it’s really hard to string comprehensive words together after a week of not nearly enough sleep.

I knew going into this experience that sleep was going to be crucial in my travels. But really, once you start gaining momentum, sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in the moment or in an experience.

Of the 10 days of camping at the Native American event,  the last four had me up shortly after the crack of dawn. I did not see my delightful sleeping bag until hours after twilight flew by. Following that, I stayed with a lovely gal who hosted me outside of Buffalo for about half a week. However, either through exploring the town, making new friends, and going on adventures, I again managed another 3 nights of sleep deprivation.

Wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I can tell you: boyyyyy, was I beat! After a certain point of tiredness, I begin feeling like a burnt marshmellow, only less delicious. Again, let me emphasize how difficult words become. Thank goodness for good natured friends who know me because I’m pretty sure I started to sound like a bumbling fool around this point. To trim the singed goop of my brain, it took about one solid day of mostly rest, and two days of intermittent napping and adventuring. That sleep deprivation stuff will knock you off your feet and onto your back!

Moral of the story? ::  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udj-o2m39NA (Not quite SFW)

Comic credit: Shen of Bluechair comics, featured on Webtoons.

Follow the East Aurora Lights

From AOL

I’m currently staying in the cutest town called East Aurora. Follow the Northeastern lights, am I right?! Now, I can’t take credit for this picture, it’s from AOL, but puns. 😉 East Aurora is about 20 minutes outside of Buffalo, and boyyy is it cute!

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Working mist-steam coming out of the giant coffee shop’s coffee cup!

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The local art shop; it’s also gorgeous on the inside. Got to chatting with the artist inside, they also have regular classes and workshops.

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The cute, old-fashioned neon lights movie theater on Main Street.

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Guffaw worthy wine shop sign.

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The shocking, but somehow warranted juxtaposition of this place next to places like this:

 

Ice cream from an old, converted train car? Yes please! The ice cream flavors are creative and delicious, Perry’s Ice Cream. *whispers: And if you push the button by the window, the little train on the top, which you can see, circles around on the mini train tracks!

 

Quirky places like this gem of a bookstore exist too.

 

The. Food. If you go to East Aurora, go to Elm Street Bakery. I tried their peanut butter granola, a couple of their baked goods, and their tea. BOOM. Done, in the best way.

 

Wandering around East Aurora last night, I stumbled onto this wonderful lit water fountain. At night, there’s not much right by it, so it was a wonderfully quiet, peaceful place to take off my shoes and dip my feet in the water.

I didn’t realize until I went looking for a bathroom that it was the front lawn for the Fisherprice Headquarters, a kids toy company. The building was locked, but looking in, I could see all the toys in the lobby. 😀 I was really pleased with the set up I noticed for their building: toys and lots of windows to look out at greenery. There are a number of musty office buildings which are poorly set up for their employees, but it was the opposite in there. Well done, Fisherprice, well treated employees are happier and more productive!

 

Lastly, I want to leave you with this thought: all over Mainstreet are trash cans like these. Each of the four sides has an environmentally slanted type of quote.

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Cool Connecticut Camping (Literally)

 

Mist, lakes, outdoor exploration, and beach dancing! The title is more than just fun alliteration; the pictures start around a chilly 5:30 morning, exploring an upstate CT lake campsite, mid-June. ❤ Got a chance to play around with my Nikon. What’s your favorite picture and why? Comment below!

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^The mist rising off the lake, before the sun was up over the tree line.

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^The mirror image from the calm lake water; playing with light shots.

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^The beach! (Later for the dancey-dancey bits 😉 )

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^Beach dancing 1!

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^Beach dancing 2! Yes, there was partner dancing too.

 

 

Philly’s Quirky Love, Part 2

Every time I drive into this city at night, my silly little heart sings. The colored lights bounce off the tall buildings of the cityscape, and this yellow-filled moon night was no different. Saturday, June 10th saw Azula, my noble steel steed, and I cruising into the city for a weekend of dancing. arriving at the dance studio, I was greeted by a wave of humid air. This was followed closely by joyful greeting exchanges with my people. A night of blissful, wonderful music and dances then followed!

A friend was lovely enough to offer up a place to stay that was close to the venue, so I crashed hard into bed that morning around 5am. The next morning, my friend and I met up with another friend to grab brunch. We set off through the jungle, in the words of Axl Rose. It was boiling outside that Sunday. BOILING, I TELL YOU. It felt like walking through a concrete desert. We trecked through this arduous terrain till we reached the oasis of our brunch restaurant.

Amari’s was awesome! They had a live band playing Jazz, friendly waitresses, and a relaxing atmosphere. The brunch food was pretty good too. Since the three of us were dancers, we ended up dancing and partner switching while we waited for food. 🙂 Just before we left the waitresses and the band thanked us for dancing. One of the waitresses joked that they should have tipped us for being the entertainment. Needless to say, when we left, everyone inside and outside of the place was happier.

Following, we took our time wandering around, ending up in Malcolm X Park. As far as cities go, I can’t say I’m impressed by the amount of trash to be found in some parts of Philly. There was a lot of trash in the park, blowing around, not in a trash can. There were plenty of trash cans, mind you, the trash just wasn’t in them. Nonetheless we cat napped on some benches in the park, basking in the shade. Eventually we made our way back out, but as we were turning the corner I noticed a large, gorgeous, fluffy dog.

ShaneOddfellow Dog

Of course following good etiquette, I asked the lounging owner if I could pet his dog. Receiving an affirmative answer, I began to pet this wonderful dog and quite the conversation began! The man began to get up… and up… and up! He was quite tall and his face, no his whole body, was covered in tattoos! He had quite the beard going and what looked to be quite the comfortable kilt on. Here’s a shot of the two of us together, after the subsequent group chat:

ShaneOddfellow Titano Malcolm X Park

His name was Shane Oddfellow. Mr. Oddfellow is a Strongman, and yes that’s one word. His performer name is Titano Oddfellow. Boy, is he one cool, quirky individual! We spoke a lot of life values. Mr. Oddfellow explained that he grew up in a town where people believed in trying new things, and if you don’t like them once you try them, then you try something new. He said that belief was a large basis for moving forward in life and trying a lot of different things. He shared some of the different things he’s done through the years, carpentry, leather-work, acting, being a part of different acts, and Strongman work. He told me once he decided to break a world record not because he felt he had something to prove, but just to show naysayers that it could be done. In one audition, he picked a man up with a few props and only his teeth (check out the NYT link for pictures and a more full story).

Mr. Oddfellow has done a lot of traveling in his life and based on his conversation, really lives his life to the fullest! It was an absolute pleasure to talk to him, and if you’re interested in learning more about this courageous individual who marches to the beat of his own drums, check out his website or the article that the New York Times wrote and published on him!

His website: http://titanostrongman.com/

The day was followed by another night of music and dancing. That night was the night for Spruce Harbor Park! The place is gorgeous, as always. If you don’t already know about this hidden gem, check out more about it in my previous post, Philly’s Quirky Love, Part 1!

(All of the information and pictures about and with Shane Oddfellow were posted with his permission.)

Philly’s Quirky Love, Part 1

Plans are turning into a reality! My travel journey began in earnest last weekend.

First stop: Philly!

Philadelphia is one of my favorites because of all the fond memories it offers. My first dance exchange weekend for social dancing was there some years back with the organization DJX. The team of dancers and humans who puts together the event is small, but efficient. The team almost always outdoes themselves for their fusion dance exchange weekends. The local dancers are friendly, fun, and gracious.

Some of my fond dance encrusted memories from this city include eating pizza the size of my face — I KNOW! “WHAT?!” you say, “that’s NYC’s schtick!” But friends, Lorenzo’s pizza place is where it’s at if you are hankering for face-sized slices of pizza in Philly. After your cheese fix has been satisfied, go around the corner on Sunday evening and you’ll find a jam session upstairs in the beautifully done interior of the Twisted Tail. Folks, I’m telling you, this place is gorgeous. But even more gorgeous then the interior and the beers? The musicians jam and the partner/social dancers who show up to make their ears happy and get their feet some kicks.

Oh wait!- you thought that was it? Nope, following the Twisted Tail, musicians, dancers, and dancing bears (kidding 😉 ) alike often make their way down to Spruce Street Harbor Park. You NEED to visit this place. Regardless of dancing or music this park is Pure *pick your own descriptive term* Magic.

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Check out this link: http://www.delawareriverwaterfront.com/places/spruce-street-harbor-park

The name gives away the location by the water, but there’s a big ole ship within sight that’s often strung with twinkling lights. Enter the park and glide into a surreal location with fountains and hanging lit icicles that rotate colors. Sway with the swish of that hammock you just got comfy in (so many hammocks!). Hungry? No problem, there are food trucks and restaurants in easy walking distance. With all the light displays here, it’s clear that the best time to visit this park is at night so you can enjoy the lights that play with the trees and the river.

Been to Philly? Have a favorite spot in Philly? Share below in the comments!

A Few of My Favorite Things

What do all of your favorite things say about you? It’s a great exercise in self reflection and hopefully, gratefulness.

Here’s a list of my favorite things:

  • A sparkly, patterned, deep red scarf
  • An off white sweater with a single psychedelic blue/green bird front and center
  • Plain black booties with a single, thick chain running front side, ankle – ankle
  • A black “heartless” hat, two black antenna that dangle up and off to the side
  • A beautiful dance
  • A soul-deep conversation, about anything real and heart felt

The beautiful scarf is one of my favorite colors and a gift from my best friend. When I lived with her for a brief period of time before moving into the place I’ve been since, it was fall, the cusp of winter. Coats, jackets, gloves, and scarves come out, but most of my stuff what is boxes. She had these glorious scarves and whenever she happened to be home, I’d run and grab the one she took off and wrap it around myself in a mix of amusing, hilarious, and sometimes serious ways. I always gave them back, but she knew how much I loved her scarves. One day about a month or two ago, she told me to sit tight, that she had a surprise for me. Sure enough, she came to visit and brought me the exact same scarf as her green one– just in red! Apparently they don’t make the specific type of scarves she had anymore so she scoured thrift stores on and off again ever since keeping an eye out for another for me. AND IN ONE OF MY FAVORITE COLORS! ❤ I get so many compliments on the scarf and I take great joy in telling people my best friend gave it to me. It makes me so happy to wear it.

The sweater was a random gift my best friend brought me one day. We randomly give each other things. Instead of placing emphasis on holidays and other events, we find cool stuff and give it to each other through the course of the year. It sits on me so well, and it’s so warm, not to mention classy.

The booties. *happy sigh. Ah, do they appeal to me! They’re simple shoes, match with pretty much everything I wear, good for all kinds of weather, PLUS they have a chain. The chain for me represents the little differences that makes me, you, and your mother unique. When I wear them, I feel like the chain speaks for all the little things that makes us unique, as human individuals. Simple, small, eloquent.

Have you ever heard of Kingdom Hearts? If not, go look it up! It’s a classic video game. My sister and I beat all the games together. Two holidays ago, she got us matching hats. I look ridiculous and silly in the hat, and love it all the more for that! It reminds me of something my very different sister and I have in common, and it’s fun to play with. It’s also an excellent conversation starter, if you can get past the weird looks people send your way. I can, it’s a great way to make people laugh, including myself.

DANCING. ❤ Oh, my heart! I’m a social dancer- that is, I partner dance with others. Blues, swing, tango, a variety of others. Dancing is being strictly present in a moment in time, communicating with another human you may or may not have previously known WITHOUT WORDS. Sometimes, a good dances makes me feel like time is both slower and faster than it really is, in the most glorious way possible.

I don’t feel the need to explain the last item of my list. Most everyone wants good, meaningful conversation!

My list is of things I’m both grateful for and of things I love. It gives me a good way to reflect on where I am in life by looking at some of the things, tangible and otherwise, that matter to me.

Happy Thursday!