Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday #25: Halloweekend

Happy Halloweekend!  I've spent the past few days playing with this little darlin' here who doesn't like to sit still for pictures.  This is a once in a mini-lifetime shot. 

HALLOWEEN.  Since Halloween is on a Monday this year, we had a party at our house last night, making this Sunday lazier than usual.  I went as Rosie the Riveter, a costume which cost me all of $3.90 for the bandana.  It ran pretty late and, for someone who doesn't drink, I felt kind of run down during the day.  It's probably all the junk food and dehydration!  I'm a little hoarse from talking over the noise (I'm drinking apple spice tea with A LOT of honey as I write this), but it was a great time.  We have a bowls of candy and libations leftover.  I'm trying not to eat so many sweets!

Halloween, Halloweekend, Rosie the Riveter Costume

EISLEY.  Eisley is one of my favorite bands and the artists I named my "first" acoustic guitar after.  Watching and listening to these women sing is like watching fairies.  For my birthday in June, the mister got me tickets to see them live for the first time at El Rey Theatre.  I have to say that their 45 minute set just flew by; I wished that it could've gone on forever.  They played a lot of my favorites and their new song Defeatist.  I'm beyond excited for their record to come out next year. 

Eisley, El Rey Theatre

CATHARTIC.  I wrote a post about living a more minimal life this past week.  It's the most vulnerable and personal post I've ever written here.  Posting anything online opens me up to judgment and scrutiny; I was nervous that it might be seen as too negative, but the responses have been thoughtful and kind.  There was also catharsis in writing, editing, and publishing the post.

How was your Halloweekend?   

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What I No Longer Need

I like a clean house.  Our surroundings have an impact on our brains: clear your space, clear your mind.  In a recent bid to live within my means and not in excess, I've taken to removing things — clutter, so to speak — from my surroundings.  I want to live my life with a more minimalist approach, to separate my wants from my needs.

I picked up Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up since it seemed in line with my thinking.  Mind you, I'm just barely through the first chapter, but I already love Kondo's philosophy: When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.  How one tidies, or doesn't, is presented as a manifest of one's mentality and I'm inclined to agree.
I have always taken immense pleasure in throwing things out, imagining a clean slate, and free space.  Despite this, I am a bit of a hoarder and emotional pack rat.  I think this is due to materialism, sentimentalism, and an unwillingness to let go.  My cosmetics collection is a tactile example: I keep makeup items because they were expensive, luxury, packaged nicely, etc.  Over time, this costs more than my initial investment.  It devolves into bad spending habits and retail therapy.  You wanna know the kicker?  Makeup expires.  So I began to throw things away.  If I didn't use it, I had to lose it, no matter how luxurious or expensive it was.  I turned to my closet as well, and packed up bags of clothing that I deposited at Goodwill.  Farewell and good riddance!

At some point, my physical tidying began to translate to my personal life.  There is a great value in knowing when something is past its expiration date.  How many of us remain in unhealthy friendships and relationships because "we've known each other forever"?  Or spent time with people out of obligation, despite how emotional draining it was?  In business, pouring money into a project with no returns is termed a bad investment.  How is spending time with people who we don't feel good around any different?  Which brings me to a platform we've all used to "keep in touch" with others: Facebook.

I've kept my Facebook account deactivated for the past year except for short spurts to "catch up." Inevitably, this would devolve into gossip-fests with friends, creeping, and the comparison game.  It became a platform that nucleated negativity while draining my energy.  I never felt better after I used it.  I won't blame Facebook; I take personal responsibility for how I engaged with it.  I decided if I wasn't going to use it productively, I wasn't going to use it at all.  Last month, I permanently deleted my account and it felt freeing to do so.  All those people I wanted to keep in touch with?  Well, it's nice to have real conversations now through other means. 

Once I remove things from my life, I find that I'm not sorry to see them go.  Truth is, if I don't miss something when it's gone, did I ever need it in the first place?  I don't miss that expensive lipstick I never used.  I don't miss gossiping about people's status updates.  Decluttering my physical and mental space is helping me see what actually matters.  The money I would've wasted on makeup can be put towards debt or plane tickets to see family.  Letting go of the safety net of a quantity of people gives me energy to focus on genuine, wonderful friends who inspire me to be better.  In short, I am learning to be happier with less because what I keep with me are things of importance.

I'm not sure of what the conclusion to Kondo's decluttering method will be, but I've arrived at one on my own: When I get rid of what I no longer need, I create space for greater things.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday #24: Lumière & Lens Turns One

Hi, y'all!  Here's a shot of my mug since this blog doesn't actually see much of my face.  I wanted to take some new shots for the blog and it was a challenge.  I'd say 90% of my shots today were either a) RBF, b) herp derp, or c) out of focus.  Apparently, I really like looking down and to the side.  Retouching was kept to a bare minimum even though there's things I want to fix.  However, flaws and all, this has to be an honest representation of yours truly.

ONE.  Somehow, without my knowing it, the one year anniversary of Lumière & Lens sneaked up on me!  The true anniversary of this blog was actually on September 13 so technically, it's 1.09 years old.  The blog has gone through a rebrand, helped me develop my photography, and given me a platform to write about things I love.  My main goal for Lumière & Lens was only to have a personal space to write and post photographs to my heart's desire.  An online diary, if you will.  That it gets any engagement at all is a wonderful bonus.  In a year's time, it has grown a humble readership and I am incredibly appreciative.  Thank you to everyone who takes the time to read, comment, and engage with me on social media!  

PERMIT.  I got my learner's permit this past week after my old one expired over a year ago.  I'm way past the age that most people get licenses.  My entire life has been spent in cities so I never had need to learn to drive before.  To be honest, I dislike cars since I get motion sickness, but this is something I'll just have to get done. 

BELOW ZERO.  I try my best to keep negativity on this blog to a minimum.  I want Lumière & Lens to be a repository of positive things and an outlet away from more high stress situations so I tend not to talk about things I'm going through.  Unfortunately, as much as blogs and other online platforms open up the dialogue, there's still a stigma against talking about mental health.  Discrimination and judgment is still a very big problem. If I can figure out a way to articulate myself well, I want to contribute to the conversation in the future.

OIL.  I'm ending this Sunday with an at home screening of There Will Be Blood with my roommates/friends.  It's been a pseudo-relaxing weekend so far.  Back to the grind on Monday.


• Dani wrote about the experience of being a foreigner and otherness.  Though this written from a European perspective, it resonated with me and I think it's an important conversation to have. 
• Michelle encapsulates a lot of familiarity when she talks about growing out of friendships.  Life's too short to spend time with people who you don't feel good around.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Girl Who Climbs

Meet Veronica (@vinyasaraptor): yoga instructor, rock climber, and all around strong-as-heck woman.  She is the sister of my other half and when she came to visit us in California, we took her to Joshua Tree.  I'm always in search of new photographic subjects and the rocks out in the wilderness were the perfect backdrop.  Veronica was kind enough to humor my dreams to be a Serious Photographer and played model while we explored the desert.

Joshua Tree is popular with climbers because there are so many rocks to scale.  Headstone Rock was right by our campsite so we went exploring there first.  One of my favorite pictures is when Veronica ascends toward the sky between a narrow chamber of rocks.  It looks as if she's climbing towards the heavens, doesn't it?

There is a popular rock at Keyes Point which overlooks Coachella Valley and Palm Springs that people like to take photographs atop.  Naturally, here's a picture of her pulling off bakasana on a peak that's sided with steep descents.  #GOALS.  Anyone else want to try this on a mountain?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Camping at Joshua Tree

Ryan Campground, Joshua Tree, Joshua Tree National Park, Desert
Driving in to Ryan Campground at Joshua Tree National Park.

I went to Joshua Tree on the cusp of September and October, to spend a night in the Mojave Desert with friends. The popular camping season in Joshua Tree National Park starts with the arrival of cooler temperatures in Southern California.  When I went off-season last year, the temperatures were over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making hikes more difficult.  Since the campgrounds are first come, first serve in the cooler seasons, we set out early in the day.

After a 2.5 hour drive and a long search, we claimed a spot at Ryan Campground.  We had originally wanted a spot at a different campground, but everything was full (Jumbo Rocks is very popular, but it's super crowded).  Personally, I really liked Ryan Campground.  There were less people and our site was incredibly spacious.  Once we had set up camp, where I pitched a tent on my own, I went to explore the surrounding wilderness by our site. 

Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert, Colorado Desert, DSLR, Landscape Photography, Desert Photography
Joshua Tree landscape.

Joshua Tree is famous for its surreal and unusual landscape. The park and surrounding county are filled with joshua trees, which are the ones with the spindly, green leaves. Gigantic rock formations are piled high within the park.  There isn't much grass to be found.  Instead, the land is crowded with small, short shrubs that grow out of the dry ground.  There were a lot of cacti, yucca plants, and juniper bushes.  All the flora in the desert have small leaves, minimizing water loss.

juniper bush, desert plants
A juniper bush.
Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert, Colorado Desert, DSLR, Landscape Photography, Desert Photography
Venturing into the wilderness.

Getting the campfire lit.
Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert, Colorado Desert, DSLR, Landscape Photography, Desert Photography
Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert, Colorado Desert, DSLR, Landscape Photography, Desert Photography
Landscape of trees near our campsite; view of the campsite from atop a rock formation.

One of the best things about camping is that there is no cell phone service in the wilderness.  I signed out of all my social media apps and put my phone into airplane mode, using it only as a flashlight when night fell.  It was incredibly freeing to be disconnected from the world to just enjoy being in the outdoors.  The air was cleaner and the sounds of the city were left behind.  The only thing I had to do was to be present in the moment and with nature.

Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert, Colorado Desert, DSLR, Landscape Photography, Desert Photography
Part of the Milky Way; Joshua Tree at night.

Being at Joshua Tree is like being on another planet, one that is covered in alien looking plants and rock piles.  I loved donning my hiking boots and trekking around with abandon.  I loved being able to see the stars; it was so clear that the Milky Way was visible and I managed to snap a part of it on my camera.  There are piles of rocks to climb up and between.  I've always thought of deserts as vast expanses of sand, but there were an unbelievable amount of plants and nooks to take shelter from the sun.

I had a really good time exploring and hanging out with people I don't get to see very often.  There was a sign on our campground that noted the maximum stay allowed was 14 nights.  I was incredibly tempted to pay the fees and live out there for two weeks.  I'm not an outdoorsy person at all so I think it speaks to how awesome it is out there.  Until I see you again, Joshua Tree.  I'll be back.