Feeling Inspired

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Can you smell fall in the air? While I’m looking forward a season of cozy days spent indoors, our camping trip last weekend and photos of the changing scenery make me want to get outside. Even knowing that tomorrow afternoon I get to sit on the sidelines and watch Alex’s soccer practice has me excited (and brings me right back to the many fall seasons spent playing soccer when I was growing up).  It’s all just a reminder of how important it is for our souls to spend a bit of time outside, especially during these transitions from one season to another. Spend some time outdoors this weekend, letting yourself take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the changing seasons. xo

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Lessons of Blogging

It has been over eight years since I first created a blog. My first post is too embarrassing to link to, but it was a montage of peace signs found around Philadelphia. Not much has changed. Over the years, I’ve written about culture, nightlife, nature, traveling abroad and random tidbits. I’ve tried out three hosting platforms, various styles of posts combining images and sometimes longwinded recolections of life events. A few years ago Katie and I teamed up to create a shared journal: Live Seasoned. The quality of past (and not so past) posts and photos sometimes make me cringe, and I probably have more typos living on the web than hairs on my head, but whatevs. I love sharing ideas and starting conversations not only with Kate, but with all of you.

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Here’s what I’ve learned:

Write about what you love – even if everybody ignores it. It happens more often than not. You’ll pour your little soul into a blog post, finish it up at 2am and deem it the best damn thing you’ve ever written. Twelve people will look at it and only four will make it through the entire post. You’ll cringe at the bounce rate, but you’ll do it again next week and your heart will feel happy. Five years from now you’ll get a random email of thanks from a stranger for that blog post and you’ll think, ‘well, at least it has 13 hits now.’

It’s takes effort to be authentic. Just like waking up every morning and striving to be an individual, it does take some effort to remain authentic. You’ll fall into a rut where every post and picture on your IG feed looks the same and you’ll think, ‘oh, maybe I should love pineapples too! Everyone else loves them..’ NO! You do not have to love fucking pineapples, if clementines float your boat, you post about clementines.

Your audience decides which posts do best, you do not. Even if you want everyone to love volunteering, they probably won’t. You want to draw attention to slave labor in Thailand? No one cares. They want what they want. Give it to them, but don’t stop posting about the things that matter to you. If it’s important to you, it’s important to someone else too.

People love the shit out of selfies. Feeling vain every time you post a selfie? No? That’s good because people eat that shit up. You’ll have to get over it. I did. Well, I’m trying. I still grumble about it to friends, but I no longer hide behind my camera, I step in front of it as well and guess what? People love that shit! They want to see you, the voice of the blog, they want to know you, so let them.

Likes mean nothing, but sharing means something. It’s true. Liking a post on social media is great, but it’s the comments, sharing and back-links that give your site traction. Be thankful for all of it, but really let back-linkers, commenters and sharers know how much you appreciate their ongoing support.

You’ll wonder why the fuck you spend so much time writing a blog. You will. There is SO MUCH STUFF on the internet. Sometimes it seems like you’re just throwing more shit on the pile, but as long as it’s good shit, helpful shit, shit that will improve someone’s life in some way, you should keep adding it to the internet. Keep creating.

You may take a teensy break. Or you may stop writing for months at a time. That’s okay. Don’t apologize for it. Life is important, you may get busy living it, but when you have a second, come back to your blog. Your readers missed you and they want to know that you’re still alive.

Be prepared to be googled and judged solely on your blog content. Sometimes I forget that everyone googles. Shit. When you post insanely personal blog posts about breakups and IUD insertion, expect colleagues, clients, long lost friends, people you met randomly for five minutes, and even potential employers to google you and see those posts where you laid it all out there. They will see them and they’ll bring it up in person and it will be awkward as fuck.

You will try to censor yourself. Write, revisit, and re-write, but don’t silence yourself. Feeling vulnerable is completely natural, but we all appreciate truth. Be brave! Also, use spell check.

There are things you could and should be doing to improve your blog. Get over it. Put forth the effort or let it marinate for a bit, but don’t feel bad about your blogging efforts.

Do you. Whatever your blog is, whatever it becomes, you do you. You’re even allowed to curse.

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Postcards from the Rockies

If you’d like to see more of our outdoor adventures, here’s a post from another car-camping trip with the boys, and here are a few of the hikes we’ve documented.

This past weekend we went on a short one-night camping trip near Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and had such a great time. We didn’t do any major planning or packing, just a couple of hours Saturday morning, and then we started driving during nap time, and by the afternoon we found a campsite (more on that below), then we woke up Sunday and took off for a hiking destination that was in the direction of home, and we made it back to our house by late afternoon. It was a short but sweet trip that left everyone happy and tired.

aspens

One thing that still overwhelms me since moving to Boulder is how crowded hiking and camping areas are in this area. I understand that it’s the confluence of living near a large urban area (with a high percentage of people that like to get outside) and living near some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (I may be biased), but wow – there seem to be crowds at every campground, on every hiking trail, and on every road. I’ll get used to it eventually. The problem is that it makes it hard for non-planners like us to go for an adventure on a whim.

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Yoga Teacher Training Packing List

live-seasoned-rishikul-yoga-teacher-training-nepal

Namaste. Ready for your yoga retreat? Freaking out because you’re so excited and don’t know what to pack? Sweet. I gotcha covered. You basically need nothing except a great attitude, but I’ll round out the list with a few other essentials.

Ever since posting about my experience at Rishikul Yogshala’s 200hr Yoga Teacher Training in Nepal, I received emails from prospective students asking, ‘WTF do I pack?!’ and the answer is so simple. You don’t need much.  Imagine what you take to a yoga studio each time you go to practice. Imagine all the things you leave at home. Now pack accordingly.

Yoga Teacher Training / Retreat Packing List:

  • Yoga mat
  • Drink bottle
  • Hand towel
  • Full sized towel / yoga towel if you use one
  • Light blanket or sarong (this is really more of a travel in general must, but it’s very useful if your retreat is going to incorporate Yoga nidra or if you get cold during savasana.)
  • A few yoga outfits – whatever that means to you.
  • Slip on shoes – flip flops or something similar since you’ll be slipping in and out of your shoes each time you enter the studio.
  • A notebook and pen
  • A light read or an ipod with some calming tunes. Sometimes you’ll need to fall asleep (teacher training starts early!), but you’ll still feel energized from all the asana so bring a tool that drifts you off to dreamland.
  • A snack to quell hunger at inconvenient times. I usually take raw pine nuts, almonds or walnuts or a box of these fig bars.

Things To Leave At Home:

  • Expectations
  • Extra Work (including your blog, sorry!)
  • Social Media & Your Love of Wifi

That rounds out the essentials. Here’s the complete Yoga Teacher Training Packing List that I used specifically for the Rishikul Yogshala 200hr YTT in Pokhara, Nepal.

live-seasoned-nepal-rishikul-yogshala

If you are contemplating a yoga teacher training, I highly recommend Rishikul Yogshala.

 

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5 ways to go the f to sleep

live-seasoned-2016-malaysia-by-saleem-ahmed

Does sleep elude you? I’ve been there. Most times it’s due to stress or other irregular factors, but sometimes I just can’t fall the f*ck to sleep even if it’s imperative. First things first, put your damn phone down, unless you’re trying to sleep right now.. in that case, read on:

  • Read a book – reading is my first snooze move. Pick a book that you’d like to read, but is either a little bit beyond comprehension or slow moving. Whatever you do, don’t grab a nail-biter because then you’ll definitely be up all night. I usually pick up something by one of my heros, John Muir, when I want to induce drowsiness. His writings are basically a peek into his diary, interesting, but at times long winded and wordy. No offense Mr. Muir!
  • Write in a journal – if you’re not a big reader, try writing before bed. If I go this route, I usually jot down a quick recap of my day, while also mentioning what I plan to do the next day. Writing in a journal is an easy way to do a brain dump of sorts. Flush out anything you’ve been needing to say or express and leave it in your journal instead of your mind while you get ready for bed.
  • Breathing meditation – pranayama (sanskrit word for breathing) is an amazing tool for relaxation. Even if you’ve never tried pranayama before, you’re capable, it’s simply being mindful of the breath. Lay on your back with one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Take a deep belly breath in while you count to four, hold for two seconds then exhale long and slow for four seconds. Repeat this breath cycle without letting your mind wander, continuously focusing and counting your breath until you feel relaxed and ready to slip into a slumber.
  • Yoga nidra – yogis everywhere are probably rolling their eyes since yoga nidra is waking sleep and therefore one isn’t necessarily meant to snooze midway through, but I have to admit that I fall asleep nearly every single time.  It’s actually a problem, but at least I’ve discovered a great way to drift off to dreamland.  There are actually a few yoga nidra recordings meant to put you to sleep and here’s one that’s particularly good. Everyone is different though, so seek out recordings that speak to you and make you feel relaxed. Remember, you don’t need recordings specifically geared towards sleep since all nidras are calming and will likely put you into some type of trance state.
  • Conduct a full body scan – this is my favorite way to encourage sleep and something that I use quite frequently. Start by shaking out your limbs and settling down onto your mattress. Get comfortable. Mentally tell yourself to relax each body part, starting with a segment of the body and disecting it into smaller parts from there.  It should sound something like this, “relax your right foot, relax your big toe, relax your second toe, relax your third toe, relax your fourth toe, relax your baby toe. Now relax the top of your foot. Relax the bottom of your foot. Relax the ball of your foot, the arch and the heel of your foot. Now relax your ankle, etc…” I recommend breaking down each body part as much as possible, but you can focus on larger part groups (ie the right leg instead of the right shin, calf, knee, back of the knee, etc) if sleep is less elusive for you.

That’s how it’s done folks! Fall asleep faster with these five natural nap inducers.

*Photo of a famous Sarah Schu power nap in a ridiculously dirty Malaysian guesthouse captured by Saleem Ahmed.
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Simple & Personalized Souvenirs

We love a good vacation souvenir like the next guy. T-shirts are a favorite in our family, but that can quickly get out of control. There are so few other things that we want to buy in the shops (except books – more on that in another post!), so we’ve started to get creative with making our own souvenirs. This year we used Cafe Press to make canvas bags and drink bottles for everyone!
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We’ve used the site many times to make personalized gifts in the past, and with a little bit of practice, their design tools are relatively easy to use. For these items I wrote out the text and then used a single black and white clam clipart image for the graphics. I just added the clam to the design in different sizes and turned it to different degrees. Since most clams look alike in real life, it didn’t look that odd to use a single clam image this way.

If you’re looking to do a similar project, I have to say that I love the quality of the cafe press canvas bags – both in terms of bag durability and in print quality. I made a few of these a couple of years ago that still get daily use and they have held up really well. When it comes to drink bottles, I’ve tried the plastic “bike” bottles from Cafe Press and did not like the quality. The design was printed onto a plastic label that was then stuck onto the bottle, but the ink started to rub off of the label after a few uses (I think it doesn’t help that the bottles were being squeezed when used). These metal bottles, on the other hand, seem to be great quality. The design is printed directly on the bottle, and while they aren’t a name brand bottle, I noticed that the Klean Kanteen lids fit these bottles. So I already ordered some sport caps to make it easier for the boys to drink from these.

The other reason we particularly love making souvenirs for our beach trips is because Saxis doesn’t have many commercial businesses, other than the island museum goods, there’s nothing else that says “Saxis” on it, so it’s fun for us to be able to make something to share our Saxis pride.

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Postcards from the Eastern Shore

For the past few summers, the boys and I have spent a big chunk of August, crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay, jumping waves at Assateague Island National Seashore, and visiting with our east coast family. If you’re interested, here are photos from our 2014 (one & two) and 2015 trips.

It’s so amazing and special to me to be able to share the beaches that I grew up going to with Alex and Luc. I love expanding their horizons and teaching them about the sea, marsh, and island life that’s so different from the mountains of Colorado. And, most importantly, I’m so happy that we’re able to give my family such a long stretch of time to visit with the boys. We like to stay until we’ve worn out our welcome and Baba’s ready for us to “get the heck out of here”. But don’t worry, while we may have worn out our welcome this year, we’ll be back next summer to do it all over again!

Today I wanted to share a few photos from our trip so that you can get a feel for the area. I’m hoping to follow up this post with a more detailed list of places to visit and things to do in the area.

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crabbing

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marshwalk egrets elephant_pants12 sarah_fishing luc

love

dragonfly

crabbing5 sunsetb plover

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Travel To New Orleans – A Day In Bywater

live seasoned new orleans bywater travel

One day in Bywater, you say? Great! Grab your camera and your purse (or pack) and let’s go…

First stop in at Satsuma for fresh juice, coffee and a bite to eat. Each morning I ordered a shot of celery and lime juice with lots of cayenne. After you’re fueled up, sift through the antiques, oddities and treasures in the shops on the same block.

Mosey around the neighborhood snapping photographs and marveling at the restored shotgun houses, murals and community gardens.

When hunger and heat strike, stop at the neighborhood bar, Mimi’s in the Marigny, for some tapas and cold brews. Always, always, always order the ‘Trust Me’ tapas. There’s a pool table and upstairs lounge as well if you’re looking to hang out for awhile.

After lunch, relax near the water in the lovely gardens of Crescent Park. I recommend entering the park at the Mandeville Crossing entrance at Marigny and N Peters Street and walking east until you see the rusty rainbow foot bridge.

For dinner you can keep it quick at Pizza Delicious or you can treat yourself at The Franklin. If you don’t make it to The Franklin for dinner though, you must stop in for cocktails. Try the Pompila or the G.N.T. Peel.

That’s that my friends. Hopefully you have enough energy to go listen to some live music after a full day of Bywater bliss.

*This post was inspired by a single film photo taken on my first evening in Bywater at the corner of Mimi’s in the Marigny. Take a seat on the balcony for sunset and watch Flora Gallery & Coffee Shop light up during the golden hour.

 

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The Upside of Quitting

This post was inspired by this podcast, which I listened to a long time ago and tried my hardest to ignore until I couldn’t anymore.

sarah schu by saleem ahmed

We all do it. Nope, not quit, I mean we all hang on too long. We grasp at various things in our lives as if we can’t go on without them when really those things may not be serving us anymore. Jobs, projects, relationships, material items..

This year has been really strange. To be honest, I feel like I’ve been in a fog since January. Lost. Confused. Paralyzed by options and decisions. Unable to move forward yet unable to stand still. Unsure of my path. Constantly telling myself that change is inevitable and good (I truly believe it) yet still uncertain about where the fuck I’m going. I know that’s okay. I tell myself that every damn day. I’m telling myself that at this very instant. I’ll tell myself that first thing when I wake up tomorrow and right before I close my eyes to sleep.

Over the course of the last seven months, I’ve shed most things. I’ve quit multiple jobs. Jobs that I once loved. Jobs that used to feel fulfilling, but suddenly seemed hollow. I basically quit this blog, a project I was dedicated to for over two years straight.. until one day I just wasn’t anymore. My boyfriend (and best friend) and I decided to break up after more than three years together. I moved out of the best apartment I’ve ever lived in. I gave or tossed away most of my things. I downsized.

I sheltered myself from the outside world and focused on making it through the weeks and weeks and weeks. Quitting, giving up, abandoning areas of my life that I once valued highly and dedicated myself to felt a lot like failure. It didn’t feel good, but deep down it did feel right.

It’s hard to manage when it feels like everything is churning, but eventually the sea will settle and everything will stop. Even then the calm is terrifying. Maybe more so than the churning. It’s like the silence after an enormous crash. Something, everything, has just happened, but now it is still and where do I go from here? I’m not sure, but I know there’s an upside of quitting. I can’t say for certain that I’ve found it yet, but I’m trusting in the process. I’m going with my gut and I’m pushing the fear of uncertainty aside each day until opportunity presents itself.

sarah schu by katherine albin

I hope when you are dealing with enormous change you will allow yourself the same space to heal and grow. I also hope you will take long walks in the woods with friends and allow others in so they can encourage you to come out once more.

These images were shot by Saleem Ahmed & Katherine Albin. Two wonderfully talented photographers and friends.

 

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