Where have I been?

3eb41d60f0ddbccc76660c20f79949e8Well since you asked, I’ve been taking a winter-long hiatus from the blogosphere in order to focus on travel, photography, and my current work in cross-cultural communication. As this is not a travel blog, I decided not to post stories from my adventures throughout the winter. To sum it up, they involved immersion into the European psy trance scene, homestays in a rural Turkish village with poke-down (not flush, not outdoor!) toilets, seaside villas, and much communication through charades in various awkward and fantastic situations.

I am back in the soon-to-be-greener state of Vermont, so you can expect my usual transmissions of somewhat useless information, photography, and craft projects.

I am currently in the process of editing a massive stack of new images for my photography site, so stay tuned!

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Dream Jar

Post image for DIY Dream Jar For The New Year

As this year draws to a close I, like many people, just remembered “hey, I’m supposed to come up with a list of ways to make myself feel better next time this part of the year rolls around!” I’ve never been that into the whole New Year Resolution thing, despite being a sporadic list-maker. For some reason, I tend to do that sort of thing on my birthday because that’s when my new year starts. How self-centered of me!

That’s why I kind of like this idea of a pretty jar filled with objects that act as visual reminders of what you’d like to accomplish in 2013. Little things, like a fork to remind you to eat healthier. A pen to urge you to write. Maybe a picture of place you’d like to go.

dream jar for new year's resolutions

What’s in your dream jar?

{images via free people}

The Right Regrets

Not regretting anything in particular today, just finding myself in a reflective mood. Maybe it’s the leaves fluttering to the ground and signaling the coming chill, or perhaps it’s just the sense that seasonal change marches on whether we want it to or not.

Fall is usually my favorite season, but today it feels rather bleak. Maybe it’s time to get outside and crunch some leaves in the afternoon sun, pick the last autumn apples at a nearby farm, or buy a pumpkin or two.

How does the changing of the seasons make you feel?

Weekend Links + Friday Fiction Photo

{copyright Serenity Bolt Photography}

I took this photo last winter in Butte, Montana. An old hotel, a laundromat, a moving truck…surely there is a story here.

It’s up to you to tell it.

Your submissions can be as long or short as you want. I’ll post the winning entry next week. I can’t wait to find out what happened here!

Now, some links for your weekend perusal:

Timeless, simple gold and brass jewelry from South African designer Karin Rae Matthee.

Learn the surprising reason why it’s dark at night with this animated video.

Really beautiful Pendant lamps from recycled books.

How to make easy ghosts to put on a Halloween cake. Super cool!

Lessons learned from writing love letters to strangers. Ahhh…

A good list of things to do for fall at Orchid Grey.

And finally….this week’s selections from I Need A Music Guide (and I always need a guide!)

The Science of Procrastination

Did I mention that I’m now a grad student? this video is particularly relevant to me at the moment (in fact, I’m posting this in class…hah!)

And solutions? One is the Pomodoro technique, a time-management method similar to timeboxing that uses timed intervals of work and reward.

“Human motivation is highly influenced by how imminent the reward is perceived to be — meaning, the further away the reward is, the more you discount its value. This is often referred to as Present bias, or Hyperbolic discounting.”

Also check out The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination

{via Brain Pickings}

Savoring Summer’s End

As summer breathes its last golden gasp over southern Vermont, I’ve been reflecting on the strange paths that this year has taken.

If you’ve noticed an absence lately, it’s because I’ve just begun a grad school program and my time of late has been utterly consumed by first moving to a strange new town, meeting a lot of strange new people, and figuring out APA Style.

I’ve often lamented that this was The Year of Nothing, but now I’m realizing that this year may have been one of the most important so far, full of twists and turns of my own creation that led to many closed doors until I found the right one.

For too long, I looked to others as authors of my happiness, but this year I learned that it’s always been in the backyard of my heart.

Is the end of summer a time of reflection for you, too?

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*If you’re interested in reading an academic study of happiness, try browsing through the online version of The Elements of Happiness, a beautiful book by designer, Laura Javier.

It’s based off the The Harvard Study of Adult Development, where 824 people were followed for 72 years in order to understand the concept of happiness. In her book, Laura visually represents 10 particular cases, drawing her own conclusions on what makes people happy.

Thought you’d enjoy it as well!

ElementsOfHappiness3

ElementsOfHappiness2

ElementsOfHappiness4

ElementsOfHappiness

{Images via Miss Moss}

{Images via Bee Lovely Vintage by Herring & Herring}

10 Rules for Students and Teachers (and Life)

“Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.”

This beautiful and quite moving list titled Some Rules for Students and Teachers is often attributed to John Cage, who passed away twenty years ago this week.

The list was actually created by artist and educator Sister Corita Kent as part of a project for a class she taught in 1967-1968 and posted as the official art department rules at the college of LA’s Immaculate Heart Convent.

The list was popularized by Cage, whom the tenth rule cites directly, and often attributed to him.

Have a thoughtful weekend as you mull these over, readers.

For more of Cage’s musings on life and art, see the excellent biography Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists 

Where Do Good Ideas Come From? The Twilight Zone!

“Ideas are born from what is smelled, heard, seen, experienced, felt, emotionalized.”

In this short clip from the vintage TV special Writing for TelevisionRod Serling, creator of the cult-classic The Twilight Zone, articulates the nature of creativity in just 64 seconds:

{clip via {Brain Pickings}

“Ideas come from the Earth. They come from every human experience that you’ve either witnessed or have heard about, translated into your brain in your own sense of dialogue, in your own language form. Ideas are born from what is smelled, heard, seen, experienced, felt, emotionalized. Ideas are probably in the air, like little tiny items of ozone.”

When you feel like you can’t create, when there’s a death grip deep inside your chest that is keeping you inert (I dunno, that’s what it feels like to me…) remember these words of wisdom from the Terral Manifesto:

“You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself.”

You will never be sorry that you got up and created something, no matter how small. I promise. 

The Burning House: What Would You Take?

If your house was on fire, what would you grab?

This is precisely the question that Foster Huntington asked himself, first photographing the belongings that he would take, and then asking a few friends to do the same. His experiment soon turned into a blog called The Burning House, and later became a book after he traveled around the country collecting submissions from as many diverse sources as possible.

“Today, developed countries are consuming more than ever before. This culture of consumption is often fueled by people’s desire to define themselves by the

possessions they amass. The Burning House: What Would You Take? takes a different approach to personal

definition. By removing easily replaceable objects and instead focusing on things unique to them, people are able to capture their personalities in a photograph.”

From the introduction to the book

Name: Miguel

Age: 36

Location: Porto

Occupation: Bike shop owner

List:

The picture you gave me and the leather box we found together.

Mom and dads old camera and mom and dads old leather bag.

The shoes I can’t live without.

Your smell #1 and your smell #2.

The notebook where I draw while you laugh.

My iPod to listen to beautiful tunes while thinking in our next home.

Name: Brody

Age: 6

Location: New Hampshire

Occupation: A kid

List:

Wedgehead

Garfeild cup

Lego helicopter

Bumblebee Transformer

Chip

yellow belt

piggybank

wallet

weaving

(not pictured) Lego Camera used to take photo

Name: Kate Molins

Age: 26

Location: London, UK

Occupation: Clapper / Loader

List:

Buster Kitten – 2 yr old cat

My mum’s ashes

Photo album / scrap book

iPhone

Grandmother’s watch

Dad’s watch

My watch – 16th birthday present from my mum

Macbook

Passport

8mm Camera – 24th birthday present from all my friends

Dad’s “I Love Tits” Mug – in small print, “from the British Ornithological Society”

Limited edition GONZO, Hunter S. Thompson photo book – 21st birthday present from my mum

Lemmy, Buster Kitten’s brother

My uncle’s old Leica CL

Diary & notebook of VALUABLE ideas & info from the past year

Portable hard drive with millions of photos and other important things

Name: Joshua Lee Bacon

Age: 20

Location: Boone, Iowa

Occupation: Student

List:

Favorite pants.

Favorite underwear.

iPhone.

Box full of all my prints and negatives.

Buffalo box full of treasures and special snapshots.

Passport.

Chinese cigars.

Some cash.

Photo of my grandparents.

Photo of a friend.

Field notes and pens.

Vivitar and telephoto lens.

I would want to take more records, but the first one I would grab would be this Envy Corps 7 inch.

Some old letters.

Wallet.

Name: Brenda Bell

Age: 60

Location: Pinetop, Arizona White Mountains (wild fire country May/June)

Occupation: Homemaker

List:

My dog, Baby Val and treats for him

My husband Larry and treats for him

Peanut butter and crackers, peanuts, candy and gum

Bumblebee Transformer

A spork (spoon/fork)

Hand warmers

Wool hat

Lots of money (small dimensions) and change

Emergency first aid kit and zip lock bags

Matches

Name: Kristi Dahlstrom

Age: 27

Location: Germany

Occupation: Literature Teacher

List:

Great Aunt’s Violin (& Bow)

US Passport

Photograph of Siblings

2 Letters

Journal

New American Standard Bible

Rilke’s Book of Hours

T.S. Elliot Collected Poems

MacBook Pro

Black Flipflops

Name: Luca

Age: 42

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Occupation: Pricing analyst

List:

My collected writings

My Field Notes still to be used

My current notebook

the Midori Travellers Notebook On Writing by Stephen King

From Hell by Alan Moore

Important photographs

The stove moka I had for the past 10 years (because nothing looks as bad after a proper coffee)

The belt my dad had when he was in the army

The beret I had when I was in the army

Fountain pen and pencil, with my favourite brown ink

My grandad’s petrol lighter

Opinel knife Bookbinding tools

Reading glasses and sunglasses

iPhone 4S (used to take the picture)

Name: Alejandro Sosa

Age: 36

Location: Venezuela

Occupation: Technology consultant

List:

Everything is recoverable, except my daughter

weaving

(not pictured) Lego Camera used to take photo

Weekend Links + Fiction Photo

I took this photo last week on an empty backroad on Cape Cod. An old motel, a broken phone, a car…surely there is a story here.

It’s up to you to tell it.

Your submissions can be as long or short as you want. I’ll post the winning entry next week. I can’t wait to find out what happened here!

Now, some links for your weekend perusal:

  • Have you discovered Art.com? Every print imaginable…browse to your heart’s content! I almost felt like this deserved a post of its own, I love this site so much.
  • Pretty handpiece jewelry from Palomarie.
  • 20 ways to let go of regret.
  • There is something about the way that the modern and the ancient are seamlessly fused in this Spanish convent by architect David Closes that I can’t stop looking at.
  • English designer Isabel Knowles makes lovely handmade skirts, dresses and tops. I love all of them…and good news- she has both an etsy shop and a blog!
  • Wearelucky. “I decided to pass on my good luck to others by giving away £1,000 every day. I planned to give the money to complete strangers – someone different every time – and all I’d ask is that they’d do something positive with the cash. I didn’t just want to share the money; I wanted to share the responsibility that came with it. I would take a few photos, ask a few questions and build a gallery of Lucky people and stories.” Um, hello. Hi everyone. Right here.
  • Happy Birthday, E.B. White. The author of my favorite children’s book (no, not “Charlotte’s Web”, “The Trumpet of the Swan”) turned 113 this week. Here is a vintage animated film based on The Family That Dwelt Apart.
  • Did someone say glow-in-the-dark cupcakes?

Have a good weekend!

xo Serenity

Lighthouses (and weekend links!)

(image copyright Serenity Bolt Photography)

“Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships.” — Charles Simic

(image copyright Serenity Bolt Photography)

I’ve been spending a lot of time near the ocean lately. Yesterday, I took a trip to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and saw, among other things, a rare blue lobster. The odds are 2 million to one against its very existence. How fitting then that today, I came across the first poem to be published in a scientific journal. The poem, by Smith College life sciences professor and clock researcher Mary E. Harrington, is about the bioluminescent algae Gonyaulax polyedra.

FEEDBACK

If the lazy dinoflagellate
should lay abed
refuse to photosynthesize,
realize:
the clock will not slow

but it will grow fait
weaker
weaker

barely whispering at the end
”rise”
”rise”

to little effect.
The recalcitrant Gonyaulax
arms crossed
snorts
“No longer will
they call my life
(my life!)
‘just hands’.
I am sticking to the sea bed!”

Have a good weekend. Here are some links for your perusal:
  • Pretty camping tents by Fieldcandy. I love the one that looks like a book!
  • How to style the perfect top-knot. I’ve been wearing my hair like this all week. So easy and elegant!
  • Buy a bracelet (my favorite is the double-wrapped wood) from the do-gooders over at Threads and “wear change” by helping at-risk kids break the cycle of poverty. You can also read a blog entry about each kid involved here.
  • Got some time on your hands this weekend and a hankering to add more cement items to your life? Nine things you can make with cement.
  • DIY typewriter pop-up cards. Just like your favorite books from when you were a kid!
  • Artist Lisa Kellner makes sculptures out of silk organza, thread and pigments that look like giant cell structures dripping out of the ceiling. They are quite fascinating.
  • And finally…Chinese artist Pinpin Co uses washable ink to draw intricate patterns on her subjects’ faces. What do you think? Creepy or beautiful?