Author Archives: an unlikely fairytale

About an unlikely fairytale

a midwestern mom on an adventure with my family and friends to live the next half of my life with the concept that "life is too short" and take nothing for granted.

10 Things I Learned By Being on Tinder

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“You gotta put yourself out there,” they say.

“Getting under someone else is the quickest way to get over someone.” “You never know until you try.”

So I did it. I put myself out there. I downloaded Tinder.

And here’s what I know, that I didn’t know before.

  1. Tinder makes it SUPER easy to put yourself out there. And in a fairly safe way, that also protects your ego a bit. You don’t know if you’ve been rejected or by whom, you just know if someone matches with you that you ‘swiped right’ on.
  2. User error. This app is super simple, yes, but if anyone can mess it up, I will mess it up. I’ve also learned in the last 5 days that I’m not the only one, so that’s a relief, although I’m not sure what or who I was worried about, as if the Tinder police are gonna kick me off for being a moron (personal shaming, I suppose, lol). Anyway, if you’re a first timer like me, you can swipe right if you like someone, swipe left if you don’t, and swipe UP if you “super like” someone. What are we, in 5th grade again? Anyway, if you super like someone, or someone super likes you, 9 times out of 10, maybe even 10 times out of 10, it’s user error. Let’s just say, my user error got me a few matches that I wish I could have super unliked. UGH. BUT the can of worms was already open and I’m too polite to ignore them or to just be honest and tell them I didn’t mean to or not smart enough to figure out how to change this before they found out. Needless to say, this caused me a great deal of anxiety.
  3. You could have sex every hour of every day. If you have a vagina, or even appear to maybe have a vagina, you could probably have sex 12 times a day every day in every way in every place known to man or woman. Married men with open marriages, single men looking for threesomes, single men looking for anything besides their hand, etc. I’m not one to judge, I’m just sayin’. So if that’s your thing or what you need right now, you should have no problem finding a hook up, however you choose to fly your freak flag. Just PLEASE be safe.
  4. Age and distance doesn’t matter. You’re never too old to be on Tinder; other than the learning curve on how the app works for us ‘oldies’ that need to get with the times, there are plenty of decent people out there in your age range. LOTS. Of people. The distance filter is especially handy and important … you know, especially for convenience sake. For the quick booty call, of course, but also for us busy people who shudder at the idea of driving more than 35 minutes to meet someone that we will probably never talk to again to listen to a conversation we wish we never had about crap we don’t even care about just in case they might ‘be the one’ or so that we might avoid one more lonely night of eating a dinner you made for two, but there’s just you. I know. It’s sad.  But you get over it.
  5. Do not give someone your cell phone number. Unless you like an inbox FULL of dick pics. Even if you’ve asked all of the general questions, they’re nice, they’re funny, they seem harmless and interesting and just looking for someone to hang out with, get to know, see where it goes, and they seem like someone you could see yourself talking to further … don’t do it. Because they will still send you a dick pic. And even the ones you didn’t think would send you a dick pic, apparently can’t help it, because eventually they send you a dick pic too. SO … unless dick pics are what you’re looking for, I don’t advise giving any one on Tinder your cell phone number.  EVER.
  6. There are a LOT of lonely dudes out there. I know I’m generalizing here, but I only see the dude side of Tinder, so it’s the only side I can comment on, but I’m sure there are a lot of lonely women out there too. I make this lonely comment because I have experienced the intense desperation to connect with someone (over 65 times in 5 days to my inbox so far). Not every message is like that or turns to that, but the vast majority … people are lonely.
  7. We’ve lost the ability to communicate and connect with people. This was really eye-opening. Now this could be a factor of my age (maybe, maybe not) but I also wasn’t matching with anyone under the age of 40, and I’m only 48, so that’s not likely a factor. It could also be a factor of the ‘type’ of people that use Tinder, but that’s not a fair assumption either, because lots of decent people I know use this app and I use this app, and I have zero scientific evidence to back up my comment, just my first-hand experience to go on. But anyway … every conversation (and this is true), every conversation started with your average how do I talk to a person I’ve never met awkwardness, but then every single one went down a dark, desperate rabbit hole from there. People get right to the point. Sometimes they HAMMER the point. And they work you and work you and work you saying everything they think you might want to hear so that you’ll like them or share your cell number or talk to them longer or meet them for that drink or JUST LIKE THEM DAMMIT.  People just want to be liked, wanted, desired. They just have zero IDEA how to communicate this to another person. This too made me a little sad.
  8. It’s a good distraction. If you’re not looking for anything too serious and you don’t scare easily, it’s kind of fun. In small doses. And if you have boundaries.
  9. I thought it would make me feel better. I thought I needed it. I thought it would replace the sadness. I thought all of the attention from random men based on how my picture looks would boost my ego. Make me feel pretty, make me feel wanted and sexy. Make me feel less lonely. Mind you, it’s worth mentioning here, that I have no problem being alone, I almost prefer it, but at times it can get lonely. It would be nice to have someone to play cards with or shoot pool with or share coffee with. “Don’t you have friends for that?” you ask. Not really. Adult friendships are different. Almost all of my friends are part of a couple or are the whole couple, and they have kids and jobs and busy lives and we were like that too.  We were comfortable in our little bubble because we were so busy doing life, that we spent what little time we had doing things together instead of working on those outside friendships that are also important for people’s happiness. It’s easy to lose sight of this. For some couples, it’s fine, it works. For other couples (like us I guess), not so much. Anyway .. I digress. After 5 days of being on Tinder, I didn’t feel better. I DID experience all of the feelings I was hoping I would feel from the attention I got from some very attractive men and I have some pretty great stories, but it didn’t make it better. Didn’t make me better. In fact, it made me feel worse.
  10. I don’t need it. THIS is the ultimate lesson, for me, that I got from Tinder. I don’t need it. I don’t need the coffee dates or the dick pics or the sob stories or the eyes-wide-shut invitations. I don’t need the generous compliments or the flirting or the attention. Nor do I want it. THIS is the lesson I needed. I am enough for me. I feel confident and accomplished. I feel happy and secure. I feel beautiful and sexy and funny and kind. Is there still sadness? Sure. There probably will be for a long time. But I also realize that I can carry that kind of sadness with me for as long as I need to and still feel like I am enough.

Disclaimer: I am neither for or against Tinder. It serves a purpose for a lot of people. Hell, I met the [ex] love of my life on a dating app that resulted in a relationship that served us for 8, mostly happy, years. I think it can be for whatever you need it to be, whenever you need it or want it to be. There is no judgement here. I encourage all of you to do what serves you, whatever makes your heart happy or calms your head. It may not serve you forever, but it may be what you need right now. And that’s ok. 

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What I Found in Taos New Mexico

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I wanted to run away.

Or maybe just a get away?

(but I definitely thought about running away)

Maybe I was running to something?

Probably more like running from something.

But I was definitely looking for something.

Or rather, hoping something would find me.

Whatever it was, I found it in Taos.

This happened fast, (perhaps the most spontaneous thing I’ve done in 8 years), but after a quick review of my kid co-parenting schedule, I made a radical but necessary decision to get the hell out of Iowa. It was about as spontaneous as a type A 40+ year old person with control issues in a single home with 4 teenage & young adult mouths to feed and a gazillion bills to pay and lots of people counting on you to hold up the other end of a figurative white dress so it doesn’t drag along the hard filthy ground can be. But I did it. And it felt pretty damn spontaneous and GOOD and right.

7 days later I was heading West on a sixteen hour journey/quest/pilgrimage to some kind of hopeful savior in Taos, New Mexico (no pressure, Taos). I’ve never been there, I had no real reason to go there, it’s ski season, but I don’t snow ski and I was leaving snow to go to more snow but something about it was pulling at me, like a loose thread on your sweater that could either completely unravel into a heaping pile of nothing or is a complete nuisance just hanging there snagging on everything until you snip it.  I had to find out which it was.

Road trips are my happy place. I’m not intimidated by long drives. More like exhilarated by them. Sunrise, play lists and podcasts, quiet time, road snacks and gas station coffee, the landscapes of 4 different states, sunset, nefarious weather, road closures, white-outs, followed by gigantic black mountain top silhouettes lit up by bright night skies full of stars as I entered New Mexico … this was definitely my happy place. I actually felt my soul shift.

The first best decision I made was my lodging – Hotel Luna Mystica.  It’s a vintage trailer hotel with Airstream and other camper accommodations. I was glamping on the snow covered Mesa surrounded by mountains in a large camper fitted with 8 bunks rented by the night. It was so cosmic and sexy. I chose the ‘hostel’ camper because I’ve never stayed in one, it was crazy affordable ($25 a night), I wasn’t planning on being in it much except to sleep, and I wanted to meet people. Now it’s starting to sound sexy, am I right?

My camper mates included:

Pittsburgh, a kind, quiet woman roughly my age, single, successful career, living with her 21 year old daughter, a rich life of solo traveling, comfortable with herself in a very confident and unapologetic way (it was inspiring), with shared interests in travel, good food and beer, meeting new people, a love for adventure and the arts. I liked her.

Boston and Austin, mountain-weary young career men with friendly demeanor, nice smiles and kind faces that felt like mid-westerners, childhood friends that now live thousands of miles apart, one on the east coast, one in the south, spontaneously meeting for a weekend of snowboarding.

Lastly, there was Albuquerque times two, with their friend Saint Louis – a petite woman with a pretty-girl-next-door kind of face and bouncy blonde hair that mastered the French press each morning, filling our camper with the heavenly aroma of coffee like a long forgotten but once familiar Folgers commercial.

The next best decision I made was to take the infamous low road to Santa Fe.

The low road takes you south through the mountains, along the Rio Grande River through a myriad of small towns peppered with touristy stops, but most are closed due to being winter. I stopped at a few local wineries that were actually open, but my favorite was the Black Mesa Winery.  Colorado was my wine server. He was at least 6’3, rugged yet handsome in a weathered sort of way, Irish-looking man, with a just-rolled-out-of-bed head full of red hair, his face sun-kissed with freckles and permanent tan lines from sunglasses worn year round, the scruff of a two week old beard and the stale sweet breath of last night’s beer. Colorado rafts class 3 rapids year round on the Rio Grande with a group of close friends, he never rafts a day without a dry suit or a hypothermia kit, he lost 3 friends on the river just this past year, and another 3 lost that he wasn’t close to. Colorado’s grandmother from Trinidad made choke cherry butter and wine but never drank a drop of alcohol in her life. His childhood love for cooking led to an early career choice, traveling and training with world renowned chefs and sommeliers which contributed heavily to his taste for the finer things but yet he chooses a simple-no-cell-phone-off-the-grid-lifestyle.  His contagious zest for a life of adventure and appreciation for nature is so ingrained into the fabric of his being that you can’t avoid the contact high you get from the genuine joy and peace that radiates from his weathered soul. It was comforting … I felt grounded.

And we drank wine. REALLY good wine. Award-winning, taste-bud-awakening-melt-in-your-mouth-smooth-on-your-tongue, mind blowing wine.

We were briefly joined by Texas, a small in stature, thin but striking man with dark features, quiet and seemingly annoyed with our boisterous talk of water sports, but yet he peaked my interest … until all of the wine he opted to taste were sweet whites. I knew right then that it would never work. So I moved along my route.

 

In Santa Fe, I stopped at the Georgia O’Keefe museum. As I stood in front of her giant painting of the white flowers of the jimson weed, I was so overwhelmed by a powerful feeling of awe and appreciation that silent tears ran down my face. I detoured from my route to see the Ghost Ranch in Abiqui (ab-a-que) where she lived, I traveled the high road back to Taos and stopped and stood in front of the famous pueblo churches where she stood; the entire afternoon I was surrounded by the inspiration for some of her most famous paintings and for the first time in a long time, I felt centered.

 

Probably the best decision I made the entire time I was there in the magical land of Taos, was the day I hiked down into the Rio Grand Gorge in search of Black Rock Hot Springs. These are pools of natural hot springs that are settled along the banks of the Rio Grande River surrounded by giant black boulders.

 

To get there, you have to drive down to the John Dunn Bridge, along a very lengthy, lightly traveled, narrow red dirt road that had turned into a mud bog and slippery slush due to the recent snowfall. After you cross the bridge, you park in this small switchback that’s tucked into the mountain and continue your trek on foot, descending further and further down into the gorge towards the raging river.

There is no general path, so I followed what looked like tracks made by others in the same attempt to find this natural treasure.  After climbing and ducking and avoiding treacherous ledges for a solid 30 minutes, I found it. I quickly observed the pile of clothes and shoes and gear strewn out across the boulders like carefree, hurried skinny-dippers motivated by 30 degree temps, unsure of how many people were already there. As I approached the boulder where I was eventually going to place my gear and clothes, I noticed there were 4 people immersed in the natural pool, quietly chatting, surrounded by giant billows of steam that weighed heavily in the cold air.

After my awkward entry into the small pool (because I am about as graceful as a giraffe on brand new legs) I took a quiet moment to take it all in and center my thoughts on not what others may be thinking about me at that very moment, but of where I am. It’s now about 3pm and the sun is behind the mountains, dusk isn’t too far away but the light makes the colors on the rocks shine in deep rich tones, the cool mountain air is so fresh and crisp and I take a long, deep breath; I close my eyes and pay close attention to the steam warming my face and bare shoulders and how suddenly I am very aware of my body in the hot water. I am living in the now. This is real and so incredibly cool.

But the coolest part, was who I was sharing this moment with.

There was California and Michigan, a young, adventurous non-frilly couple who met while teaching English in Israel and together they hiked the Sierras and the Rockies and other mountains I haven’t heard of but sounded cool, and came to Taos to ski and hike for the weekend and were making plans to be WWOOF’ers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in Australia this summer and just moved to Colorado from California for a less hectic, more simple life. California, who had dark hair, a kind face with shocking green eyes and perfect teeth, asked why I came to Taos. I simply stated that “I was on a quest”  and responded politely in a reassuring way with “that’s hot” … this made me blush.

There was New Jersey, a young Irish lad who is very quiet but had a sweet smile and didn’t stay long.

There was Hawaii who was recently displaced by the invasive volcanic lava and relocated to New Mexico. We were joined later by his mother and younger brother who mentioned that they have acres and acres of farmland where they grow taro root and how they cut their feet while harvesting the root on escargo snails that wash down stream into their ponds.

And then there was Wyoming and Wisconsin. A slightly malnourished looking Yuengling beer drinking couple, with sun kissed faces outlining the permanent pale shape of ski goggles, living in their truck by choice, enjoying a life off the grid. A life of adventure supported by a sweet gig as wilderness rangers at various national parks across the U.S. throughout the year. Never in the same place twice or for too long. Wyoming shared nail-biting stories of coming face-to-face with a big horn sheep who was impatiently waiting for him to pee so he could drink it and a night of cowboy camping when he awoke to his hands buried in bear’s coat while dreaming that he was petting his Pekingese in his sleep, claiming that when he finally realized what was happening, they locked eyes and both ran as fast as they could in opposite directions, both fleeing in terror. Wyoming simple stated, “it was not my day to die” and he took another swig of his beer.  He taught us that porcupines taste trees until they find the one they like the best to nest in and shared with us how humans are disgusting and disrespectful in nature when they refuse to bury their poop and Rangers see deer munching on grass with toilet paper hanging out of their mouths and squirrels making their nests with dirty toilet paper. BURY YOUR POOP, people. I could have listened to Wyoming all day. But it was getting darker and I still had to work my way back up the mountain. We all said our good-byes and went along our way, never to see each other again.

Of all of the things that I did and I saw and I experienced, it was the anonymous, insanely cool connections that I made on that trip that were by far my favorite experiences and the most unforgettable. They changed my life.

I met Vermont while sitting at the Taos Mesa Brewing bar across the road, who was part of the first responding rescue crew for the people buried in the avalanche on the mountain the day before I arrived (the first in 15 years – lost 2 people); there was Taos, the Native American born and raised there, that I shared an insightful and delicious breakfast with at Gutiz, there was Chicago and Milwaukee that I met at a bar that just finished a contracting job in Taos and were flying home the next day  … so many people, constantly moving in and out of your personal space at any given time, most people don’t even pay attention to.

I believe human connection is one of our basic fundamental needs as a person, it is a gift, and what we are meant for. We’re not meant to live a life in isolation and fear and loneliness, we are meant for connection. It’s part of our story. It’s where you find yourself.


SIDENOTE …

Albert Einstein said it so beautifully with these words: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Where did you go, Cameron Crowe?

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If an artist has a muse, it’s generally someone they love or are obsessed with or attracted to, someone of great beauty or perceived power, someone who inspires them to write song lyrics or craft poems or paint masterpieces or build temples or do a number of phenomenal things that are completely outside of the general scope of the their average day-to-day creativity.

Cameron Crowe is my muse.

Maybe that seems like an odd choice, but to a movie lover like myself, a movie lover that loves movies with rich characters and unforgettable soundtracks, or rather kickass-watch-over-and-over-again movies with kickass-make-you-never-hear-a-song-in-the-same-way-ever-again soundtracks; that would be Cameron Crowe movies (with the music direction of his rockstar wife , Nancy Wilson – probably his muse), then maybe it makes sense to you.

But if it doesn’t, let me explain it a bit further.

Cameron Crowe is a genius story-teller. He is infallible when it comes to creating complex characters that we quickly understand and relate to without the need of lengthy backstories; you know exactly who they are, you see them for all of their faults and failures and ugly parts and yet you fall in love with each and every single one because of their complexities and you’re rooting for them no matter how fucked up they might be, because who isn’t fucked up, and suddenly you’re sucked in. This could be you. And THEN without realization, we fall right into the uncomfortable arms of every complicated relationship he introduces because it’s done in such a raw and human way that you want to crawl into bed with each one, just to have them lay their troubled head on your chest and listen to your slow, rhythmic breathing while stroking their hair and assuring them that everything will be alright. Relationships are rarely perfect and generally messy and he gets right to the core of the grittiness in a very real way with humor and heart and discomfort and all of the awkwardness that makes it all too familiar. And then you remember you’re at a movie.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High. My early introduction to Cameron Crowe movies. This was WAY before I knew or even cared who Cameron Crowe was or paid attention to or had an appreciation for the directors or screenwriters or anyone else that wasn’t the actors. I was a silly schoolgirl of an impressionable age and I will never forget how it made me feel as I sat with my eyes wide and my mouth shut absorbing all of the awkward awesomeness that is this quintessential high school movie. It still has the same impact on me today as it did back then.

Seen. Validated. Normal. Like my all too real teenager issues and concerns and day-to-day existence were not unique and relationships really are that complicated and some kids smoke pot and care about graduation and worry about good grades and have to work lame ass jobs while wearing goofy hats and masturbation is normal and other people learn about blow jobs in the mall food court with random vegetables and just because you sneak out of your house at night to meet a boy doesn’t mean you’re bad and teen pregnancy happens and abortions are a reality and people survive High School and life goes on.

I shouldn’t fail to mention that one of the main characters, Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), had the same name as I do, so in a way I felt cooler by association even though no one else associated that but me and my sad little nerd brain.

And oof! That soundtrack.

The song that cues just as Linda (Phoebe Cates) emerges soaking wet with her long dark hair slicked back wearing a tiny red-hot string bikini in her best friend’s backyard pool while said best friend’s older brother, Brad, is watching from the bathroom window. What boy, man or woman, does not see that scene over and over in their head every time they hear “Moving in Stereo” by The Cars.  Or when you hear Steve Nicks singing “Sleeping Angel” you feel regret and sadness in your gut as you remember Stacy waiting on the street curb for that fucking loser, Mike Damone, to give her a ride to the abortion clinic and he never shows.

Jerry Maguire. I pinpoint this movie as the exact moment in time that I fell madly in love with Cameron Crowe’s brilliant brain and skill and craftsmanship for movies.  Jerry, Dorothy & Ray, Rod & Marcy Tidwell, the Cush, even Rod’s freeloading brother, T.C. All complex, yet real and relatable characters that you’re non-stop rooting for as you ride the messy roller-coaster of their complicated lives as if you’re right there in the same bumpy coaster car with them hoping everyone gets off the ride safe and happy and not covered in puke.  And THEN, all of this is packaged up perfectly in the shape of another memorable soundtrack bow. The right song at the right moments to convey the right emotions. When Jerry gets in his car after the infamous “my handshake is gold” with the Cushman’s dad and he’s turning the radio dial searching for the perfect song and he lands on Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” and he sings at the top of his lungs along with the radio and you FEEL his victory, his relief and joy and confidence that everything will be ok now. He did it. He’s not a failure. Who hasn’t done this? Talk about relatable. And the Bruce Springsteen song, “Secret Garden”, that cues when Jerry is moving in for that unforgettable, everyone-has-had-this-butterflies-in-the-stomach-should-I-shouldn’t-I-moment good night kiss with Dorothy on the front step at the end of their first date.  *sigh*

And then there’s the fact that I named my only daughter after Jerry’s white-hot, feisty, confident, strong and successful redheaded girlfriend, Avery (Kelly Preston).  The name fits.

Almost Famous. Cameron Crowe’s “fictional” based on a true story bio pic. More messy relationships and complex characters that you’re rooting for from the second you meet them on the screen. Penny, Russell, William (Cameron), William’s mom Elaine, even the guitarist Jeff (played by Jason Lee). AND THAT SOUNDTRACK! EVERY. SINGLE. SONG. in this movie is triumphant, BUT that bus scene after they collectively experienced a drunken night of celebration and fun turned to mayhem and painful things that were said that you can’t take back and then quietly … one by one, they all start singing “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John. OMG. I literally died, and then I full-on cried because you were in that bus experiencing the exhaustion and the pain and the tension and the anger and all the awful sadness they were collectively feeling and this song, this one tiny song, lifted their hearts and brought them together and made everything right in the world again. Powerful scene. Powerful. I am still awe-struck by this scene. Just writing about it made me take pause.

So this. All of the above. All of the stories, and the characters and the music and everything that is Cameron Crowe (and Nancy Wilson) in these movies is my muse. My motivation.

For years, I’ve been writing a book of fiction that’s inspired by my own awkward comedy drama-filled messy relationships with songs that book-end each story of the guys my character is involved with.

One day while I was still working my corporate job inside my little gray cubicle, a song came on the overhead radio that made me pause and giggle to myself.  Within seconds, Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You” literally transported me nearly 30 years back in time to the sweaty-smells-like-teen-spirit-and-nachos roller skating rink with gum stuck to the red carpet and the disco ball spinning and the blue lights shining on my new white roller skates with the blue pom-poms on the toes, at the ripe pubescent age of 13 to that exact moment when my long time grade school crush had the actual nards to choose another girl for the couple skate. While skating to OUR song. All of drama and pain and horror and humility (and humor) of my first heartbreak came flooding back with a fond remembrance of a more simple time when this was my biggest challenge. (I still don’t like that kid, sorry Jason)

That’s when I realized that due to my over-dramatic-wish-my-life-was-a-high-school-musical, I could place a song at the beginning and end of nearly every relationship I’ve ever been in. My first kiss song, make out song, first dance song, riding in the car song, break up song… BAM!! Built-in soundtrack. Complex characters with messy relationships, tender moments and raw emotions through nearly every stage of my life.

This sounds like the perfect recipe for a Cameron Crowe movie to me!

So this begs me to ask the question once again, my dear muse, Cameron Crowe, where did you go? Where are you in my time of need? I need your counsel and your brilliance … only you (and Nancy) can make my movie as it should be.

You can find me here. Waiting for your call.

(but if you’re busy, maybe you could put in a good word with Drew Barrymore or Lena Dunham)


MUST BE MENTIONED …

I once read an interview with Quentin Tarantino (also brilliant at character creation and using music in his movies) where he talks about the impact of music & cinema:  “That’s one of the things about using music in movies that’s so cool, is the fact that if you do it right, if you use the right song, in the right scene; really when you take songs and put them in a sequence in a movie right, it’s about as cinematic a thing as you can do. You are really doing what movies do better than any other art form; it really works in this visceral, emotional, cinematic way that’s just really special. And when you do it right and you hit it right then the effect is you can never really hear this song again without thinking about that image from the movie.”

^^^ RIGHT?!?! ^^^

Founder Series: Arthur Guinness

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founders

Everyone likes a good story.

Lately, I’ve found myself drawn the story behind the product. There are countless products in our world that started with someone’s idea, a random thought, a crazy dream. Those ‘someones’ were most likely surrounded by skeptics, by naysayers, non-supporters, and flat out disbelievers. Probably even family members who told them that it was “nonsense”, “don’t waste your time”, “that’s such a stupid idea.”

BUT.

They didn’t listen. Or they didn’t care what others said, or thought, or felt. They listened to themselves. To their crazy idea. The voice they can’t quiet inside their head until they do something about it. And this is the story that fascinates me the most. The dreamers. The doers. The entrepreneurs. The inventors. What’s their story?

I google these people. A lot. Most of them are completely at random. I’m on a bus, drinking a Starbucks admiring the mermaid logo on my cup and think, “how did that even happen”? I turn straight to my friend, Google, and search for answers. I always find what I’m looking for and I am never disappointed.

People are straight up fascinating.

As many inventors as there are out there, there are biographies. Ginormous books with all the history and backstory anyone could want. And as much as I would love to sit and dig into the pages of their life, there is such little time any more.

But I also thought, during my recent quest for knowledge (which began when seeing a Guinness beer commercial), someone else might find their story interesting. And although they could Google it too, they may not.

So I decided that I’m going dust off my dormant blog, and jot down my findings along with some old timey pics and share these random founder stories. They may be stories you already know, or bits and pieces, but either way, I hope you enjoy my interpretation of these fascinating people.

Arthur Guinness

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Arthur Guinness was born in Celbridge, Co Kildare, in 1725. His father was land steward to the archbishop of Cashel, Dr Arthur Price, and brewed beer for workers on the estate and was well known for his particularly fine porter beer. He taught Arthur the craft of brewing with the equipment they had in the churches basement.

Arthur was 27 when the archbishop passed away in 1752. Dr. Price left him £100 (the equivalent of four years wages at the time). Over the following three years, he perfected his skills as the brewer for an inn owned by his stepmother. In 1755, at the age of 30, he struck out his own, purchasing a small brewery in the village of Leixlip. He felt that brewing beer was a service to the community: this was the era in which gin was devastating poor communities and beer provided a far healthier and less intoxicating alternative.

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In 1759, southwest of the city, he found an old dilapidated brewery in Dublin, named St. James’s Gate Brewery. Although the building needed a great deal of work, 34-year-old Guinness saw this as a major opportunity and rented the factory for just £45 a year, for an unprecedented lease-term of 9000 years.

In 1761 Arthur Guinness married Olivia Whitmore in St. Mary’s Church in Dublin. They had 21 children, 10 of which lived to adulthood.

In 1764, Arthur built the Beaumont House where the family lived on a farm of 51 acres. Now it’s the estate of Beaumont Convalescent Home, behind the main part of Beaumont Hospital, between Raheny and Santry in north County Dublin.

Arthur was a very dedicated member of the Church of Ireland. He had inherited the ethics of hard work from his father and the church instilled the goodness and responsibilities of wealth, which included the importance of caring for the poor.

As a result, Arthur became involved in a variety of social welfare organizations. He also gave to a number of charities, promoted Gaelic arts to encourage pride in the Irish heritage, and joined the Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick, an organization dedicated to ending the practice of dueling.

He was also a champion of the Sunday School movement in Ireland, which provided basic education to children. For Arthur, this was part of an interest in prison reform as well: he believed that education combined with Biblical teaching would keep people from falling into a life of crime.

Guinness Stout As We Know It

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Guinness continued to develop and improve as a brewer. In 1779, he was named official brewer of Dublin Castle. At this point, he was brewing ales as well as a variety of dark porters. Gradually, though, he decided to specialize in porter; he finally gave up brewing ale in 1799 and figured out how to produce a good quality black porter (stout).

That’s when the production of the dark beer with creamy foam originated, and the company quickly became a symbol of Ireland. It was only four years later, at age of 78, when Arthur Guinness died. As a legacy to their children businessman left 25,000 pounds, which by today’s standards would amount to about 865,000 pounds.

By his death in 1803 the annual brewery output of the stout over 20,000 barrels.

The Brand

The harp, which serves as the emblem of Guinness, is based on a famous 14th century Irish harp known as the “O’Neill” or “Brian Boru” harp, which is now preserved in the Library of Trinity College Dublin.

The harp has been synonymous with Guinness since 1862, and according to some calendars it dates back to today April 5, when it was used as a symbol on the first bottle label for Guinness. It was registered as a Guinness company trademark in 1876.

The harp is also the official national emblem of the Republic of Ireland and can be found on the Republic’s coinage.

However, there is a difference between the Irish government harp and the Guinness harp. As Guinness had trademarked the harp symbol in 1876, the Irish Free State Government of 1922 had to turn the official government harp the other way around so as it could be differentiated from the trademarked Guinness harp.

The distinguishing feature between the two harps is that the Guinness Harp always appears with its straight edge (the sound board) to the left, and the government harp is always shown with its straight edge to the right.

It is because of the harp trademark that the Guinness company named its first lager ‘Harp’ in 1960. The harp is one of three elements that make up the Guinness livery. The other two elements are “Guinness” (the word) and Arthur Guinness’s famous signature.

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There have been a number of changes to the design of the harp device over the years including a reduction in the number of strings shown. The current harp was introduced in 2005 when a new brand livery was launched.

The history of the Guinness brand is also the story of one of the most famous books in the world… the Guinness World Records book.

The Guinness Book of Records

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Legend has it that in 1954, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of business for the Guinness Brewery, became involved in an argument during a shooting party, regarding the fastest game bird in Europe. There was no book available to provide the answer (and obviously no Google).  Beaver quickly realized that there were probably thousands of disputes just like this taking place and decided to run a Guinness promotion based on the idea of settling pub arguments over a pint of beer.

After speaking with some friends in London, twin brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter, it was determined that a book of this kind could be very popular and they began working on the project.  After nearly 14 weeks, at 90 hours a week, the project was complete. The first print run of The Guinness Book of Records was for 50,000 copies and by Christmas had become a bestseller in the UK, and is now one of the best selling books in the world.

The Guinness Legacy

Arthur died in 1803, but his legacy lives on. Over the next century, Guinness grew to be one of the largest and most respected breweries in the world. That story is a tribute to Arthur’s hard work and insistence on excellence, qualities which he passed on to his children and heirs. But that is only part of the Guinness story. The other part is the amount of good Guinness has done for its employees and their families and for Dublin, all of which is also part of Arthur’s legacy.

In the late nineteenth century, Dublin had the highest rate of contagious disease and the highest death rate in Europe. The city was a squalid mess of overcrowded slums as people from across Ireland made their way to Dublin in hopes of emigrating, but found the voyage too expensive or spaces on ships simply unavailable. Diseases such as smallpox, measles, dysentery, typhoid fever, and tuberculosis swept the population, striking women and children most severely.

The Victorian period is not known for its compassion to the working classes, yet the Guinness board members were molded by Arthur Guinness’ values. The benefits that came from working for Guinness not only applied to its workers, but to their families, widows and retirees.

A Guinness worker during the 1920s enjoyed full medical and dental care, massage services, reading rooms, subsidized meals, a company funded pension, subsidies for funeral expenses, educational benefits, sports facilities, free concerts, lectures and entertainment, and a guaranteed two pints of Guinness beer a day.

Today, the Guinness legacy lives on. It is one of the largest European beer brands and is respected by people throughout Ireland and beyond. But Arthur’s goals and dreams were always modest: move to the big city, make a good beer for its citizens, and a decent living for his family. He lived his entire life within a few miles of his brewery. He was not a titan of the beer industry. He was simply a man from a small town, with strong values and a knack for making good beer and he shared his love for it with his family.

Putting it Out There

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This year for me is all about taking risks. Being fearless.

Wait.

More like being brave. Because you can’t be brave if you don’t feel fear, right? Anyway, hear me out and then I welcome your honest response(s).

I’m scared shitless. Seriously. I’ve actually been ridiculously paralyzed and it’s not going to hold me back anymore. This is me. Being brave. Putting it out there.

If you know me or not, know this … I am not good with vulnerability. Just the word makes me shudder and freaks the shit out of me. Makes me feel weak .. open to injury and insult … and any other ugly thing out there that could sting or heaven forbid, destroy me emotionally.  Which, sometimes, I fear it may .. especially in my weaker moments. But “never let them see you cry”, right?  Sadly, I have not responded well in the past (tears, or anger, or both) when it hasn’t played out as lovely and hopeful as it did in my head and you can only imagine the wake of destruction it’s created.

However, I’m happy to report that as I’ve matured over the years, my response to vulnerability has also matured. I’ve learned a lot and I don’t think I would have been ready to do this several, or even a few years ago.  So here it goes.

As some of my closer friends, and maybe a few family members know, I’ve been writing a book.  For a very long time now. At least 6 years, if not longer.  You know what’s even crazier?  It’s been pretty much done for at least 3 out of the 6.  But I’ve been sitting on it. And as hard as it is to admit, it’s mostly out of my fear of vulnerability.  Not even fear of rejection bothers me. I’ve never been one who has been too concerned with how others feel or think about me.  But for some reason this work of love, and hate, and tears, and joy has rendered me debilitated.

But I am debilitated no longer.  So look out world, here I come.

Today I am sharing the book cover prototypes.  There are four.  Tell me which one speaks to you and why. I’d also like to hear what the title says to you or you think the book is about. Don’t worry. You don’t hold all the power. Or any really. I probably won’t change the title or even go with the most popular cover choice. This is simply part of my process of making it real. Of making myself accountable to my internal universe that manages to dictate my epic failures and my greatest achievements. And making myself vulnerable .. for the greater good … my greater good.

Book Cover Proto 1

book cover proto 3

Book Cover Proto 2

book cover proto 4

I have a friend who is on a mission called “100 Letters of Rejection” for 2015.  I’m following her lead.  I also did some tiny research on famous authors who were rejected countless times and yet they persevered.  And today we couldn’t imagine a world in which these works of art didn’t exist.  I’m not doing this to be famous, to be on the national bestseller list or win a Pulitzer prize. I’m doing it because it’s inside me, literally begging to get out. So whatever it becomes, I’m good with.  As long as I put it out there with no fear of vulnerability or debilitation.

THANK YOU for hearing me out.  THANK YOU for your participation in my process.  THANK YOU for your uncensored honesty.  THANK YOU for going on this journey with me.  It’s gonna be AWESOME.

~ S

p.s. watch for the Preface of my new book, which I had refused to write and wasn’t going to include, but I’m glad I changed my mind .. posting soon.

Based on Photos I Liked, Part 1

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I don’t want to say I’m obsessed with Instagram, because I read so many blogs that start the very same way, so I’m going to start by saying something entirely different.

Instagram is like crack for my eyeballs. Like a flame to my moth .. the peanut butter to my jelly. Like the Romeo to my Juliet .. the macaroni to my cheese.

Ok. I’m obsessed with Instagram.

pics i like instagram Collage

Once upon a time, magazine’s were my obsession. I “read” very few of them, but my eyes would literally feast on the pictures like starving wild beasts. It didn’t matter what kind of magazine it was either. Fashion. Food. Nature. Music. Home. Men’s. Kid’s. Women’s. Bridal. DIY. You name it. If It had glossy pics, I had to have it. And not just have it, but tear pages from it, paste my favorites in books and on giant poster collages to look at later, and then still save the magazines just in case I wanted to look at them again later. Stacks and stacks upon stacks of them. Obsessed.

Instagram, however, takes my obsession to a whole new level. But on a more mature, deeper level. I have a minimal 409 followers. I actually KNOW less than 60 of them and the majority of the others are from different countries … hundreds of virtual penpals and our universal language is images. The old cliché still holds true … “a picture IS worth a thousand words.”

pics i like road Collage

Another point that makes it even better than my previous obsession (other than free), is that I am connected on a personal level with each and every one of them. Whether they KNOW me or not.

It’s not just a photo credit for a photographer I may never see or know or even view their work again.

What each of these people choose to take photos of and share (with me and the rest of the world) is personal, not another assignment or job. Their subject generally means something to them. They’re connected to it. And now I’m connected to it. And connected to them.

Ok. I admit, I may be starting to sound a little creepy, maybe even a bit stalkerish, but I assure you it’s nothing like that. I like knowing there are people out there seeing and doing and living life and sharing their “visual” stories with us. I like seeing the person behind the magic, the world through their eyes. I like having a glimpse into a life on the other side of the world that I may never get to experience. And connecting with them. As much or as little as I/we choose.

pics i like tracks Collage

These are truly fantastic times we live in.

Thank you Instagram for giving people such an accessible, fantastical outlet to express themselves … for bringing us all a little closer and making our big, big world feel a tiny bit smaller.

Thank you.

Sidenote: when I started to write this post, I intended for it to go in a completely different direction, but It took on a life of its own and became what it is and will make for an excellent precursor to my originally intended post, so I’m making this baby a two-parter. (inhale) (exhale)  Watch for part two later this week.

P.S. I’d love to connect with you further on IG! You can find me here.

Stacie

50 Shades of Green; My Love Affair with Iowa

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iowa cornfield

Over a couple of beers with a friend last week, she said “I’ve never been more in love with Iowa than I have this summer.” Strange brew talk I suppose, even for a couple of chicks, but it was somewhere between talking about how fast the summer went and the kids going back to school and the weird but awesome weather we’ve been having and we were only on beer one, so …

“YOU TOO!!??” I said, a little loudly (we were in a bar, mind you), but I was also excited to hear that I wasn’t the only one.

Honestly, all summer long, there wasn’t a day I didn’t marvel at the beauty of our fair state. It’s the green.

SO. Much. GREEN.

iowa farm 2

 

As a native of Iowa, it’s no wonder that green is, and always has been, my favorite color, but I never thought it was because of Iowa.  When I was a kid, I thought it was because it was also the color of my eyes ( i know  … loved myself a little much … let’s just go with healthy self-esteem).  And then I saw pictures of Ireland, and fell in love with its color. And then along came Brett Favre and so did my love for the Green Bay Packers. It is the core color of my closet and my chosen fashion accessories. But this summer, I found myself saying more than once, THIS is why I love the color green.

iowa countryside

With all the voluptuous hills and the deep valleys, the crisp, cool streams, the fertile land and the wavy fields of green, Iowa is straight up sexy. Even Grant Wood thought so. Just look at his paintings … how do you not fall in love with that?

grant wood stone city iowa

 

If you’re not from Iowa, or ever visited Iowa, it’s possible that this love affair is hard to understand. But trust me, all it takes is once.

iowa barnquilts

As long as the “once” is in summer. Between May and October. The rest of the year is tolerable because you know what happens when the snow melts .. and that something is beyond words most days and truly the miracle of rebirth at it’s finest.

iowa river valley

This is my invitation to you, you nay-sayers, you who think Ohio, Iowa, Idaho and Utah are all the same, or are unsure which is which.  A tour through Iowa is certain to be memorable and you’ll never confuse us again. And if you ever need a place to stay or a recommendation of where to go, eat, drink, camp, hike, etc., I can give a long list of friendly natives, including myself, willing to help you out.

I’m excited to hear about your Iowa adventures and what you love about where you’re from!!  Please share below.

“Is this heaven? No it’s Iowa.” ~ Field of Dreams

Fridays are My Favorite

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it's friday

Has this been the longest week or is it just me?

Doesn’t even really matter any more because it is delicious, mouth-watering, deep-breathing, weekend-beginning Friday.

And time to share my favorites with you.

I had the pleasure of attending an artist’s reception for my favorite local artist, Bekah Ash.  I fell head-over-heels in love with her work almost 10 years ago when she had a booth at the Iowa Arts Festival and I’ve been coveting her work ever since.  I encourage you to check out her work here … be prepared to fall in love too.

p.s. she will be HUGE someday … and that some day is not too far away

bekah ash artist

{ p/c Bekah Ash }

A friend recently shared this tumblr with me and I wait on bated breath every day for the next post …  not kidding.

And although the images are striking, it’s the “conversation” had with their friend “evolution” that has me rolling.

{ and because I had such a hard time choosing one image to share, I settled *barely* on these three }

wtf evolution frog wtf evolution bird wtf evolution fish

{ p/c wtf, evolution? }

New Girl is one of our household’s favorite TV shows … so it is only fitting that we name our awesome new pup after one it’s characters …. meet the Schmidt’s … I see a little resemblance don’t you?

the schmidts

A colleague turned me onto Erika Napoletano … a feisty, smart redhead and a no BS kind of girl that helps get people unstuck (with a bitch-slap if need be), in business, life and otherwise.  I can’t get enough of her or what she has to say.  Check out this video of her talking about the “Power of Unpopular”  (also the title of her book)  and follow her blog … today dammit!

Well … that’s it for my faves on this snowy Iowa City Friday!

Hope you found a favorite or two as well.

Happy Friday!

xoxoxo

Fridays are My Favorite

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YAY!

Wait?!  What?!

No … it’s not really Friday … but it is to ME!

Today starts my Montana adventure,

which means Friday is a no work day,

which also means today is my Friday!

{ you catch my drift }

Any who … I just wanted to share some of my favorite things from this week.

{ so far }

1. Check out the Germans response to the common swimsuit model/muscle car calendars here. I find it downright HA! LARIOUS! and will be looking to purchase one in the near future.

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2. Sometimes you find yourself in a sticky situation where you can tell a friend could really use little warm fuzzy, but you’re really struggling to come up with something even remotely fuzzy … this tumblr could give you exactly what you AND your friend need.

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3. I’ve heard of “A Picture 365 Days a Year”, but a “Picture An Hour”? Now that’s downright ambitious!  And I LOVE it!  See it for yourself here.

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4. Have you heard this yet? If you haven’t, you’re welcome! If you have, hope you love it a second time around

{  p.s. it may make you blush }

HAPPY FRIDAY!

xoxoxo

It’s A Love/Hate Thing

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Painting walls … truly a love/hate relationship here.

I. Hate. It.

The trim work, the drop cloths, applying all of that wretched blue tape, removing numerous switch plates, ceilings and corners (seriously?), removing the said wretched tape, cleaning brushes and rollers and paint pans (I don’t even do this anymore, I just throw them away), reattaching switch plates (a missing screw, what the?), up the ladder, down the ladder, step in the paint pan (insert the F bomb here), first coat, second coat, and a half day later you step back to realize it’s not even the color you thought it would be when it dried.

* sigh *

Did I mention I hate painting?

I know HATE is such a strong word and I always tell my kids to find a better word because nothing is quite that bad, maybe just misunderstood (?),  but no misunderstanding here …

! i HATE it !

After all that, what’s left to love?

i LOVE …

the solitude.

the definitive beginning and end – especially the end.

my favorite musical motivation blaring through my headphones.

and if I’m really REALLY lucky … no. interruptions. (but that’s only possible if my painting is off-site, like another planet  … or painting into the wee post bedtime/pre-dawn hours, which is my favorite time to paint for this reason alone).

The irony of all of this, is that I am a painter by nature.

My preferred method is wall murals and other commissioned large works of art.

flowers firetrucks townscape elephant mollys room my starry night

This type of painting is entirely different and much more enjoyable,

from the beginning anticipation to the bittersweet end.

But either one …  either way …  love or hate …

it’s a project that I find incredibly rewarding.

What tasks are a love/hate thing for you?