Category: Pay Attention (Page 1 of 2)

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the hand I was dealt (poem).

The hand I was dealt
is considered near perfect:
golden hair, healthy body,
straight, middle class.
(They say: it could only be more perfect
were I not a woman).

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life is too short. // election thoughts.

Yesterday I got my haircut. The only other customer was 99 year-old May.

May was tiny and withdrawn; a living contrast to the extravagantly decorated salon. Her daughter and the hairdresser helped her into the chair. She said little, just watched herself in the mirror. The hairdresser chattered away, unnoticed.

After a while, May interrupted distractedly. She read, slowly and intently, from a printed quote on the hairdresser’s mirror: “Life is too short to be anything but happy.” 

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cowspiracy: a lesson in naivety.

The newest calf! - Photo Cred: David

I’ve always struggled with vegetarianism.

In college I tried to stop eating meat, several times. As an environmental science undergrad, the more I learned about food systems, the more I felt compelled to convert. I had a burning desire to succeed, almost as if my morality depended on it, but I never found the resolve.

So I tried, failed, tried again, failed again, etc.

Over time, I’ve come across three main arguments for renouncing animal protein:

  1. Humans were meant to be herbivores
  2. Eating other living things is ethically deplorable
  3. Factory farms are terrible

I’m not an anthropologist, but I simply don’t buy the herbivore argument. I seriously struggle with the carnivore sin idea. I love animals, I’ve raised them, and I’ve slaughtered them – maybe some people think it’s insensitive, but I still (very much) like to eat them. The factory farm angle I can get behind 100%… but on just that foundation, it’s very, very difficult to refuse a juicy, grass-fed burger and fatty, free-range bacon.

No argument has successfully managed to turn me off the omnivore path, despite my noble aspirations – until now (sort of).

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resolutions for a better future.

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Another year. That went fast!

Last year I wrote resolutions. I resolved to (1) restart my blog, (2) pay off one of my loans, (3) run a marathon, and (4) go on a road trip. At a point in my life where nothing was certain and adulthood was imminent, I set resolutions to give myself direction – a map to keep my values on course in the face of massive uncertainty. I can proudly say I achieved all but one of my goals*.

Facing 2016, I consider possible new goals: Call my friends more often? Complete my marathon? Kick-start this blog again? Nothing inspiring has occurred to me. Unlike like last year, 2016 is mostly certain. I’m not worried about straying from my values, or feeling lost. I’ve got a fantastic job, steady income, and solid network of family and friends. This year I don’t need a map to stay true to myself.

I had nearly resolved to skip resolutions all together when I watched Mission Blue.

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Is Instagram apathetic? #ActForNature

(Preemptive apologies to my non-Instagram readers.)

Let’s address the elephant in our collective virtual room:
Why do we spend endless hours photographing nature but very few actually defending it?

Social media is famous for its ability to escalate social movements for change. Consider the Egyptian Uprising, #Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, #BringBackOurGirls, and the #IceBucketChallenge for a start. But all of these movements were/are centered on Twitter, with Facebook as a sidekick. What about Instagram?*

This fall, Socality Barbie brought Instagram’s #liveauthentic movement’s artificiality into light. The press went wild, attacking the culture for it’s glaringly obvious inauthenticity. In my favorite article, Hilary Oliver argues compellingly that the #liveauthentic culture is a cry for meaning from the millennials’ that stems from our suburban, programmed, and privileged childhoods (read here).

These criticisms are fair, but I’d like to add my own.

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dear minimalism: can I have my home back?

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Back in March I wrote this post about minimalism. I told you that “stuff is just stuff” and that “as a culture we’re drowning in the chaos of our material lives, in our anxiety about getting rid of anything we might possibly regret.”

Then, a few days later, I took a step back and revised my original statement in this post. I argued that not all stuff is just stuff. A lot of material goods are useful to have (like tools, kitchen supplies, etc). I decided that if even if I’m moving towards a minimalist lifestyle I shouldn’t feel guilty about keeping items that I actually use on a regular basis.

When I minimized my life last spring I was preparing to move across the country. Everything had to go that wasn’t a necessity, there simply wasn’t space for anything frivolous. I won’t lie – it felt really great. I felt all the feelings that minimalist spokespersons tell us we’ll feel – liberated, less stressed, calmer, etc.

But then I moved into my new apartment last month and unpacked. Now I take back something I said in my first post about minimalism. I claimed that “For the record: I’ve never regretted getting rid of anything.” That’s no longer true.

I miss a lot of the useless stuff I left behind. 

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tour de farms.

Once I overcame the annoyance of constantly avoiding other bikers, the Tour de Farms was extremely enjoyable. Saturday morning I rode 25 miles with dozens of other Durango locals to tour small farms in the Animas Valley (David was going to join me but he decided to go get 6th place at the Silverton Alpine 50k instead, without training I should add). The annual event is hosted and coordinated by The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado and the Colorado State University Extension.

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Lined up outside the Smiley Building.

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what I know about the Animas disaster.

For the last month and a half I’ve had the privilege to work for the Animas River Wetlands – a certified wetlands project just outside central Durango. The project is converting old hay fields back to their previous wetland state, filtering water for the Animas River that runs through downtown Durango. The Animas is a hot spot for Durango tourism and is held dearly in the hearts of those who live here.

If you recognize the name of the river that’s probably because you heard it on last night’s news, or the night before that. A week ago today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally released 3 million gallons of mine water from the old 1800s Gold King Mine upstream in Silverton, CO. Thursday night that water reached Durango, turning the town’s beloved river a brilliant gold color and causing chaos.

Animas River

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biking always terrified me.

Confession time.

Biking always terrified me. The fear was born at the beginning – I didn’t learn how to bike until I was seven years old, which to me was always horrifically embarrassing. I got my first nice bike when I was around ten from LL Bean, I loved it (dude, it was pink) but I didn’t really have anywhere to ride it. I lived out in the country surrounded by a combination of dirt roads perfect for my brothers’ BMX bikes and paved roads full of crazy traffic that I wasn’t allowed on. So I rarely rode. I quickly grew out of that bike and I never got a new one.

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Where were these awesome balance bikes when I was a kid?!

My first week in college I realized that Dickinson had a bike rental program. Awesome! Especially since I didn’t have a car. My new roommate and I decided to take a ride to Walmart with a new friend to get some decorations for our room. I forgot that it had been nearly a decade since I’d pedaled anything. The second I swung on to the crappy rental I realized how awkward I felt. I completely wiped out on the way there. That’s probably on the list of my life’s most embarrassing moments.

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the “utilities” problem.

I’ve never paid a utilities bill. I’ve paid a lot of tuition, loan, and insurance bills – but never water, electric, gas, etc. Since I started living in apartments in college I’ve always lived where rent “includes utilities.” Sounds awesome, right? In college it makes a lot of sense, landlords want to avoid stupid college kids avoiding utility bills and causing them lots of problems, so they rack up the monthly rate and pay the utilities themselves. This is great… for the landlords.

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Current sublet, isn’t it cute! We have a fence, a yard, and everything.

Currently, David and I are subletting from a guy on vacation (unfortunately it’s more like house sitting but we actually have to pay… oh well). At the moment, we’re searching for a longer term apartment for August 1st. While looking around Durango for an apartment David and I find ourselves debating the “utilities problem” a lot. Rent that includes utilities can make an apartment look more pleasing, but in reality I don’t think it’s helpful. 

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