Lately Archives

November 24, 2017

I’ve been working in the Grand Canyon this month, and am scheduled to return there on Tuesday for my final hitch of 2017.

Grand Canyon

We’ve been working on Hermit’s Trail, a backcountry trail on the south rim. The first hitch I was front country, meaning we (4-person crew) camped up on the rim and drove 20 minutes to the trail head each day, where we then hiked down just over an hour to our work site.

This past hitch I was with the backcountry half of the crew, meaning we camped on a ridge halfway down the canyon and worked farther down the trail. It was warmer in the evenings down there, but a few of the nights were insanely windy, preventing me from sleeping and also snapping my tent poles. (!!)

My off days have been few since October, due to a number of factors. This all means I’ve hardly spent anytime online—which is excellent for the most part, though I’d like to be blogging and sending email updates to family/friends. For now the plan is to write a bunch when I’m home over furlough, the period we have off from December 9 – January 6.

I’m looking forward to next month’s Moment Sketchers challenge, and am planning to do a “10 portraits in 10 days” over furlough to make greater progress on my 100 Portraits project. Other plans for furlough include getting back into yoga, reading, writing, keeping up with my vegan diet, and seeing friends/family.

I’m still just as happy to be serving in ACE as I was last month, thankful for my housemates and the welcoming community of people this organization attracts.

Art Day November
An Art Day in November


September 27, 2017

I just got back from my second “hitch”—this time I was working with herbicide to remove invasive Buffelgrass outside of Tuscon. At our campsite in Catalina State Park there were five black widows living under our picnic table, tarantulas that ran around at night, Gunnison’s prairie dogs, and a scorpion that kept haunting me in the bathroom.

We were spraying from a rocky mountain in the desert, so climbing up that twice each day was a great leg workout and reminder that life is finite. We all survived—no avalanche incidents, animal bits, or injuries beyond getting stuck with cholla, a nasty prickly cactus which easily gets stuck in your skin and stings much worse than you’d imagine.

My first hitch was so awesome that I’ve since extended my AmeriCorps term to 900 hours: six months instead of three in Flagstaff. On my first set of off days I went to a meetup with the local “Upper 20s and 30s Social Group,” a “Globetrotters” meetup at a cool cafe, had an art day with a friend, and went to an evening of lindy hop lessons/social dancing.

I now have six days off before my next hitch, which will be a longer one (2.5 weeks) in Havasu, AZ. It’s an interesting schedule—to try and keep up all my regular hobbies (snail mail, painting, writing, blogging), update friends/family (phone calls, emails), hang out with ACE friends, make new friends (Meetups, lindy hop), explore Flagstaff, and take advantage of the location for nearby travel/outdoor adventures—all in six days, but I’ll make it work.

August 27, 2017

Five days ago I was offered a position to serve on AmeriCorps in Arizona. I accepted, and on August 31 I fly to Flagstaff, AZ for three months of volunteering on ACE Arizona’s Conservation Corps. We’ll be working on conservation projects in the southwest region, out camping on-site for 8-9 days at a time.

I’m trying to eat or give away the rest of my garden’s goods before I leave. She’s still abound with kale, cucumbers, carrots, beets, squash, and tomatoes.

I’ve acquired most of the hiking/camping gear I’ll need for this next adventure—with much good luck. When I met a woman on Craigslist to check out her Lowe Alpine backpack, she insisted on gifting it to me and wouldn’t accept a penny. I got leather boots for 70% off at the Gander Mountain store closing. Yesterday I drove to Mount Horeb to look for women’s work pants at Duluth Trading Company. The only work pant didn’t come in my size, so I left empty handed and feeling a little defeated. (Earlier I’d already looked for them at Farm and Fleet, Cabela’s, and Menards). My aunt suggested Goodwill/Savers, so I stop by the closest St. Vinnies and happen to find Duluth Trading Company thick work pants in my size, just a little short on length. Success! Next I stop by Goodwill and find: two more pairs of Duluth Trading Company pants, this time the right length and size. !!!

Earlier this month I worked on finishing a quilt with my grandma, which was made by my other grandma. I bought a used sheet for the back and her neighbor helped us pin it with the batting so I could tie the quilt. My grandma hand-sewed the edges, and now it’s finished!

August 5, 2017

At the end of July I returned home from two weeks away. I spent the first week volunteering as a counselor at Camp Quest, which was as intense as it was fun and rewarding. Then I spent a weekend with my aunt, uncle, and cousin who live nearby before taking the bus over to La Crosse for a week hanging out with my younger brother.

That week was filled with many jazz orchestra concerts, multiple library visits, several watercolor sketches, and a sweaty night of dancing to the live music of Appleton’s funk band Porky’s Groove Machine. (If you ever get the chance to see these guys live, go to a show!!)

Now I’m adjusting back to life at my parents’ home, with a fresh stack of library books and a project I’m hoping to complete by the end of the month. That and stretching/yoga are my priorities each day. I feel a bit in-between so far this month, as I’m looking for opportunities/jobs/etc. in other states starting any time…

The garden got a little overgrown while I was gone, and now we’re enjoying lots of green beans, more kale, and tomatoes are getting red. (I made a vegan kale pesto this week, plus these amazing cookies (no white sugar! no flour! no butter!). I pulled a carrot out of the ground this week, curious to see if they’d grown, and surprisingly had something nice to eat. So carrots, beets, and cucumbers will be plentiful in the next couple of weeks.

June 15, 2017

On June 1 I turned in my finished train for the “Trains on Main” public art project here in Waunakee. You can see the finished train here and read about the creation process—start to finish—here.

I’ve been taking my grandpa grocery shopping weekly, and last week we also went to a casino because he likes to go (that was my first time). It’ll likely be my only time in a casino—I don’t think they should be legal—but it was nice to get him out. I only got carded twice during our short visit!

At the end of May I asked Twitter friends for poetry recommendations, as I wanted to give poetry another chance, post-school. I have a nice list to start from now! I just finished a collection by Sylvia Plath (“Ariel”) yet didn’t warm up to them, but am currently enjoying Mary Oliver’s “Dog Songs,” poems about her four-legged loves.

Garden updates: I thinned out my carrots and beets earlier this week—which was way overdue, and did some beet transplants in the process. Not all of the beets have perked up yet, though we did have some heavy rain this week. I learned what flowering is when some of my lettuce flowered the other week. But I still have other lettuce and lots of kale that’s growing great, so I ate my first salad from the garden this week!

The biggest change in my routine this month is that I’ve started a daily “writing sit” practice, where I must sit for 30 minutes in my desk each day—phone in airplane mode and wifi off (I’ve been typing in TextEdit). My journal and pen are out on the desk in case I don’t feel like typing, and I can write in there instead. I can even just sit in the chair and wait for time to pass (though haven’t had a day like that yet), but the point of this month-long experiment is to get in the habit of daily writing. That’s the only way I’ll create more worthy stuff—you’ve gotta give yourself space and time to get out all the shit first! Anyway, the first week went really well, seven days in a row and I brought a piece to life because of it. Then I missed a Friday – Sunday weekend, but am on a four-day streak now.

I’ve been biking/walking anywhere I need to go in town, and have gotten out to a number of local parks. I’m happy with my outside time! I’m reading lots, picking up the guitar again, painting in an art journal, making watercolor postcards, sending regular snail mail, doing some explorative art classes on Skillshare during my free two-month trial (Get two free months of Premium here if you want to give it a try, too!)

Oh, and lastly, I’ve been selling things on Craigslist for my parents/brother. To date I’ve sold a futon, four chairs, my old cello, my brother’s drum set, and one of my mom’s scrapbooking tools. Still listed are a 15” viola and 3/4-size violin.

April 20, 2017

It’s my final day in Madrid, where I’ve been for just over a week, not doing too much (as tends to happen here). I came here from Montpellier, where I spent a very relaxing 12 days or so moment catching, soaking up sun, eating French favorites, watching France’s “Super Nanny” and “The Voice,” walking Damien’s grandpa’s dog, and generally hanging out.

Last week in Madrid I saw and submitted a proposal for Trains on Main, my home town’s third annual public art project. It was accepted, so I’ll be spending the month of May decorating a metal train that will be on display for three months, then auctioned off! I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m really excited for the challenge, learning, and playing to come.

I also have a ton of books on hold, waiting for me to pick up from my local library (not to mention Kim Dinan’s “The Yellow Envelope” in my room), so I plan to kick my reading into high gear as well. I’ll turn 28 on April 24, and am looking forward to dinner plans that night with a group of friends.

I’ll be interviewed for a podcast early May (hello, leap!), and also have hired an online friend & role model for a “Get Shit Rolling” brainstorming session—which I’m really excited for. Lots to look forward to as I start developing routines for these next three months living with my parents again.

March 21, 2017

After my week in Bologna at the end of February, I spent two weeks working on a small farm in Dozza. I was unplugged and working satisfying days outside, exhausted for bed at 10 or 10:30, and up with the sun at 7.

Mid-March I said goodbye to the wonderful HelpX family which hosted me, and hours later I arrived in Venezia. I made several sketches during my stay, befriended my hostel owner and her big fluffy dog, and got reconnected to the internet on my final day.

A few days ago I gave some testimony for Candace Rose Rardon (which is now live on her site—scroll down) as a member of the Moment Catchers community, and she pulled some advice from my “joy of being an adult beginner” post to share in her tips for getting started as a sketch artist post! It’s been so fun to connect with the Moment Catchers community, and to see how sketching has been shaping my travels these past two months.

The Creative Rebel Academy began last week, so I’m playing catch up on lessons as I get reconnected with the online world. Besides that, today is Day 56 on my 100 days of writing in my journal. I’ll actually need to get a new journal soon, perhaps I’ll look for one here in Múnchen.

Which, yes, last night I arrived on a train from Venezia to Múnchen, Germany. I’m staying at my friend Max’s place with his roommates—but he’s working in Frankfurt all week. It’s great to be in this beautiful apartment. I just did my first load of laundry in an actual washer after two months on the road. Yay!

I’ll probably be heading to Montpellier next, but no travel plans have been made. I do have a return flight bought for April 21, though—Madrid to Chicago (via two fun new transfer points).

February 22, 2017

I flew from Chicago to Madrid near the end of January, where I stayed for about a week getting over jetlag and sleeping a lot.

Then on February 2 I flew to Napoli (Naples), where I spent a week eating cheap pizza and staying at an awesome hostel. I also got to visit Pompeii and go hiking on the Path of Gods.

My next stop ended up being Roma (Rome), where I spent several days sick with a cold + had a hostel night of hell—but still got to roam around, see a friend from my French class in 2015, and painted during the week.

Then I spent a week in Firenze (Florence), where I just left this morning. While there I finally got back to working on my list of #The100DayProject projects, and ended up going to town and finishing two days later.

Now I’ve just arrived to Bologna, where I’ll be for six nights. I’m writing in my journal every day and painting in my watercolor journal each city I go to. This morning I secured a HelpX gig on this farm after my Bologna visit, where I’ll work in exchange for food and accommodation for about two weeks. And after that… we’ll see!

January 16, 2017

After finishing my 100 Days of Mind Mapping project on January 9, I started another just a few days later—but haven’t said anything about it publicly yet. Until now: Today is Day 4 of 100 Days of Three Morning Pages! (Morning pages are written in stream-of-consciousness style every morning—more here).

What began as a coloring night at our public library turned into an almost weekly “art night” with new girlfriends in town. Last week I did a small self portrait with watercolors, and tomorrow night we’ll meet for my final time before I leave.

Throughout the past month I’ve done several small DIY projects that I wanted to finish before I take off traveling (a week from today):

Oh, and I did my taxes too!

Tomorrow will be the last day of the English class that Hannah and I have been putting on this winter. Last Friday she came over and we recorded this ESL tutor training video—our first time doing anything of the sort!

December 13, 2016

Today is day 77 of my #100DaysofMindMapping project—over three quarters of the way done! (And I’ll be the first to tell you how very glad I’ll be once it is done…)

Last week I finished the second part of my holiday letters: writing the actual letter, making photocopies, stuffing all 70 or so envelopes, and putting on the stamps.

It was quite the project!

I’m really enjoying the weekly adult English classes that Hannah and I are teaching. These past two weeks we’ve had small groups—three students each time—but it makes it all the more personal.

This is my final week of work at FluentU, which I’m certain is the right move—though all endings involve goodbyes and giving up something. But I’m making room for something greater!

Aside from that, I’m working bit by bit on blog posts for English With Rebe (and telling you about it here so you can see something in-progress, and not a finished product), playing with my watercolors down in the cozy basement, figuring out health care for next year (because unemployed, I don’t make enough for Obamacare), and trying to make the most of my final half-month subscription of Progress with Lawless French.

November 2, 2016

Today marks Day 40 of my #100DaysofMindMapping project. And it’s been three weeks since I got back to Wisconsin, and I’ve been keeping busy calmly, as I recently started saying: a calm busy. The time fills up, but not with rushed, stressing things.

With what, then?

I’m meditating, reading, painting, writing, mind mapping, volunteering with English learners, going to French conversation tables, seeing family (most recently I visited my younger brother in La Crosse last week, then chopped wood with my dad at grandma’s on Sunday), seeing friends, cleaning, cooking, writing letters, and working very minimal hours (0-10/week).

I started a bullet journal a few days ago. No, not a fancy one with cutesy decorations on each page, just a regular one with mostly black pen. This month I’m tracking:

  • Mind map (1/day)
  • Meditation (10 min/day)
  • Gratitude (1 sentence/day)
  • Progress with Lawless French
  • FluentU (French)
  • Calligraphy (20 min, 2x/week)

September 17, 2016

I’m down to 10 full days left in Montpellier. I spent the past week in Rodez, which was my first full week post-employment (I left my job earlier this month—big life change!). I spent a good chunk of the week reading, and finished the fourth Harry Potter book (in French).

Damien turned 27 on the 14th, so he had friends over for a pizza dinner the night before, and we went to a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner the day-of. I also took care of some regular check-ups during the week, with a free eye exam (have a new prescription) and a teeth cleaning at the dentist.

At the start of the month I bought myself a compact 12-color set of watercolors, and it’s been so fun to use them! (Why didn’t I do this earlier?) I’ve realized it’s so simple to create—you just pick up a pen or brush and move it around on a surface. The process is quite relaxing, in addition to rewarding.

Finally, just three days ago I started a 100-day project: #100DaysofMindMapping.

August 15, 2016

It’s sinking in that I’m almost down to a month left in Montpellier, so I’m trying to take advantage of my remaining days—meaning I buy a French pastry each time I go to the supermarket.

I spent five days in Rodez the other week, as Damien is on summer vacation. We rode Segways, went canoeing with friends and played petanque.

I finished reading Harry Potter à l’école des sorcies over the weekend, and then watched the first film in French the next day. It’s been awesome to get so sucked into a book written in French. The audio book has been fantastic, too.

I’m developing a personal compass to guide the next chapter of my life. The first direction I’ve decided to include on said compass is act > think.

July 16, 2016

I’m just getting back to my routine after nearly a month away from it (was sick for over a week, then my sister came to visit for two weeks—June 21 to July 5—and then I spent last weekend (Thurs. – Mon.) in Rodez.

So I’m now trying to get caught up on some letter writing, reading, blogging, French studying, calligraphy, etc.

The big happenings over here lately were the Euros (soccer tournament), where France beat Germany in the semifinals to play against Portugal in the finals (but lost); the Tour de France, which is still going on, butpassed through Montpellier on July 13 and 14; and most recently Bastille Day on July 14, which you’ve probably heard about because of the ISIS attack in Nice late that night.

On my sister’s last full day here, I bought the current issue of the French magazine “Psychologie Positsive”(Positive Psychology) in a shop, and have since ordered online (and received) three different back issues. So that’s given me some fresh French reading animation. Each should take at least a month to work through (and dig apart; not just read. Oh, and there are also writing/creative activities too!), so I’m stocked up. (Am still working on the first issue I bought.)

After a small search, I finally found non-grid-covered notecards earlier this week, so I’ve begun my first commonplace book.

And I’m about to begin working through The Connection Effect (previously: RYPL)‘s free “Find Your Purpose” workbook, sparked by several weeks of internal reflection. No plans have been made, but I’ll just say that there could be many big changes coming up in the second half of this year.

May 21, 2016

I’m getting settled in Montpellier, attending several Meetup and Couchsurfing events weekly. They mostly involve playing ultimate frisbee or having conversation in various languages. Sometimes I host these events too.

I’m learning:

  • French — I recently finished watching all of “Marseille” on Netflix, and finished reading “Le Journal de Bridget Jones.” My grammar study has taken quite a break this month, so I just made a new blog“Améliorer mon français” so I can bring more focus to my learning journey.
  • Calligraphy — I’m working through The Postman’s Knock‘s Amy Style calligraphy workbook and video course. I’m almost finished with the faux calligraphy pages, so I’ll soon be pulling out my dip pen and ink.

I’m working on:

  • My Korean food guide — My sister arrives in France on June 21, so I’ve given myself a month deadline to finish the final product. Lots of research and writing left to do before I start laying it out and finding pics, etc., but it’s time I put this 2+ year project to a close!
  • English with Rebe — A new site to offer editing and online lessons to English learners. I need to start pumping out some blog posts, and make flyers to advertise editing services to local students.

Each day I try to:

  • Meditate for 10 minutes
  • Go for a walk outside
  • Practice calligraphy for at least 10 minutes
  • Write in my journal

I usually do at least two of the four; I’m tracking these in a month chart.