“Life is tenacious if you give it one little bit of encouragement”
Last year, I descended into the world of “Station Eleven” the brainchild from the esteemed Emily St. John Mandel and I felt myself come alive while understanding why ‘survival is insufficient’. Now, fast forwarded a year in time but in time alone due to the nature of our world struck down by COVID, and I’ve been moved to pieces by yet another post-apocalyptic tale with “The Dog Stars”, the debut fictional tale from Peter Heller.
“…it felt like my heart might burst. Bursting is different than breaking. Like there is no way to contain how beautiful. Not it either, not just beauty. Something about how I fit.”
It’s fantastic the life one can live between the covers and letters of a good novel. Similar to Station Eleven, we meet our main character, Hig, in sickness and in mourning, within a world turned upside down by a flu pandemic. In the pages that follow, the reader descends into awe inspiring adventure where over and over again, we discover ourselves as Hig rediscovers himself: through loss and through grief, through love and through the persistent longing for something greater than himself.
The first thing you’ll notice, and either happily engross yourself in or either have to get through – or – is the literary syntax. Heller effectually pulls the reader into the world of ‘The Dog Stars’ with the language, form and function based upon living inside Hig’s memory for the duration of the book – almost like a kite string, holding the novel together. You feel you, too, have had to deal with sickness from the flu, you too, have had to get your wits back about you and carry on in this new world: this new world without convention mirrored in analogy by the degradation of language and dissolution of formal conversation. Initially taken back, I quickly became enamored by it and found myself playing out the scenes vividly within my imagination.
“Maybe it’s not the meek who inherit, maybe it is the simple. Not will inherit the earth, they already own it.”
Right after finishing the novel, I started scouring the internet – hoping that a film adaptation would be on the way. Which led to a good news, bad news scenario. Back in 2012, ‘The Dog Stars’ was optioned by the company that brought us the Resident Evil movies, German based Constantin Films. Unfortunately, there’s been literally no movement since. All things considered, with a year and a half of an international health crisis still lingering over us – could be an excellent time to toss that project into high gear.
“Is it possible to love so desperately that life is unbearable? I don’t mean unrequited, I mean being in love. In the midst of it and desperate. Because knowing it will end, because everything does. End.“
With his first fictional tale in the books, Heller has gone on to write two more novels – Celine and The Painter, as well as a handful of pieces of non-fiction including The Whale Warriors. A longtime contributor to NPR, as well as a writer for National Geographic, Peter Heller has an exceptional knack for weaving inspiring tales of adventure and resilience, and is sure to make you yearn for the romance of the great outdoors.
For more on Peter Heller, and “The Dog Stars” – head to his social media channels or simply head down to your favorite small book store and snag a copy yourself.
Though over time this blog has become has undergone as many iterations as I feel like I have, it’s original purpose – and the ever evolving gestation of my being – is music; sharing, enjoying, loving, grooving with, dancing to and discovering good music and fantastic artists. Over the past year, I think we can all agree that music has healing and saving properties and quite frankly I fucking miss going to see live music, letting the bass reverberate through your bones to the core fibers of your being.
When the venues start reopening and concerts start flowing through – I already have a healthy list of new artists that I’ve had the pleasure of discovering over the the last year that I’m just itching to hear live. One of those artists is Cautious Clay and I’m so pumped that he’s finally releasing his first debut album Deadpan Love on June 25th.
Fusing blues, jazz, hip-hop and indie rock in a seamless manner – Cautious Clay curates a timeless air with his musical prowess while demanding your presence with deliberate and delicate vocals and lyricisms, evoking mature moods and complex emotions on a grand scale. Think Darius Rucker and Gary Clark Jr. meet Bloc Party, pull up a seat and lose yourself in the musical moments that he’s expertly curated.
A modern day musical hat trick of production, singing and songwriting, Cautious Clay – otherwise known as Joshua Karpeh – is (currently) an independent artist hailing from Cleveland, Ohio; why’s that in quotes, you ask? Because after this EP I simply cannot see his talents going unsigned. If you think you recognize his voice, you just might – Cautious Clay has two songs with John Mayer under his belt, and had his phenomenal track ‘Cold War’ sampled on T-Swift’s ‘London’ Boy’. In addition to his own songwriting credits, Kareph has assisted on three songs on John Legend’s ‘Bigger Love’ album, in addition to Alina Baraz and Khalid’s single ‘Floating’.
Last weekend as I pawed my way through ‘The Voice of Knowledge‘, a cascade of thoughts started rotating through my head: what does my voice of knowledge lie to me about, how did I become my own biggest critic, what are inauthentic truths that I try and force on myself and how can I be kinder to my own mental space. As it turns out, what I was suffering from at that time is called imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome has kept me from raising my voice at important times, from trying my best at something I’m new at, and to be very honest – is what almost prevented me from writing this post to begin with; who did I think I was to try and explain imposter syndrome, why does it matter what my opinion is, and who the hell actually cares.
So, What Is Imposter Syndrome?
The psychological sibling of feelings like self-doubt, fears of failure and inadequacy, imposter syndrome is what prevents us from pursuing our dreams while instead reinforcing the idea that we are a living in a nightmare we have no control over. Though similar to feelings of low self worth and diminished self confidence, imposter syndrome is the continual feeling of rejection, or of being exposed as a fraud of sorts that doesn’t deserve their roses, no matter how well earned they truly are.
Imposter syndrome is the voice we have that refuses to acknowledge our wins – big or small, nagging us with ideas that we’re not good enough, that what we’ve gotten out of life has been by dumb luck and not our own doing, and that we are undeserving of any good that comes out of our life. Overwhelming and convincing, imposter syndrome pulls us away from our creativity and new ideas, while fortifying a negative feedback loop that screams we simply aren’t good enough and people will see through us to the hypothetical frauds we believe we have become.
Unfortunately, or fortunately – depending on how you choose to look at things – imposter syndrome is much more common than you think, and it’s synonymous with that pestilent ‘Voice of Knowledge’ that Ruiz refers to. Imposter syndrome seeps in when you move into new and novel realms of your life: from getting that new job, raise or promotion to releasing your creative genius into the world; I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been overcome by it at some point in their lives. The problem with imposter syndrome arrises when we use our psyche and ego as an excuse – we stop pursuing our growth and deny our human nature of evolution.
How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Remember those cartoons when we were kids, with the angel on one shoulder and devil on another? If you live by your imposter syndrome – you’ve shut the good news out, and have been focusing on the negative for far too long; often forgetting that there’s a large part of you that loves yourself, respects yourself and wants to be heard. If you can’t get back to negotiating between the duality of these feelings, the least you can do for yourself is to shut down the pessimism and marinate in the art of being still. By acknowledging imposter syndrome and calling it out for what it is – we prime ourselves to reframe our mental space in a healthier fashion. If we can learn to adopt a growth mindset – we realize that as we negotiate with and move past what we are not, we reinforce the unique beauty of living as our authentic self. That might sound easier said than done, but I promise – it’s truly just as easy as trapping yourself in your negative emotions.
At the end of the day, we are all the best at being ourselves; meaning that you are the one person in the world that is the best at being them. What we are not, however, is our emotions. We must learn to let them pass over us as clouds to our mental sky, they might cast a shadow – but we are not the shadow, we are the sky that wants to shine as bright as possible. When we listen to our imposter syndrome, we are choosing to not share the beauty of our true nature with the world. Instead of falling back into the feedback loop of imposter syndrome, try these mental tricks instead.
For starters – be kind to yourself and the way you talk to yourself. Would you let a stranger talk to you the way you talk to yourself? If we come at our relationships from a point of love and understanding, we allow ourselves to hold space for our emotions in a more positive light. Start by writing yourself love notes and leave them around your home and office; remind yourself how amazing you are! Be able to separate what is fact from what you’re feeling; they are not the same but our minds are so strong that the two can become intertwined. Understand that to make a mistake is human, and to grow outside of your mistakes is divine.To win the mental war you’ve been waging against yourself, it’s just as important to win the smaller battles. Limit your time on social media; if comparison is the thief of joy, then Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are emotional burglars. They reinforce the attention economy, while taking time and joy – replacing them with feelings of gross inadequacy and depression. Compile a list of your tiny, day to day wins – and know that they’re just as fantastic as larger ones. Start working with a gratitude journal – my personal recommendation is the Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal – or Spirit Animal Cards to establish more positive emotional pathways. It’s on us to ensure that our exterior world has our backs, and best intentions in mind – ensure your support system is full of positivity; we are the synthesis of the five closest relationships that we have – and chances our, they’ve felt a similar way – if we open the lines of communication, we can not only champion our own imposter syndrome but we can help others overcome theirs as well.
Do you recognize when imposter syndrome is setting in? What tips and tricks have helped you bounce back to your authentic self?
Share some love in the comments below and let’s help each other be the best versions of ourselves that we can be.
First, we had ‘bears, beets, and Battlestar Galactica’; thanks to the fantastic imagination of Emily St. John Mandel – we also now have an incredible book that delivers Shakespeare, Star Trek and the Traveling Symphony.
A fantastic dystopian post-apocalyptic tale that hits almost too close to home for comfort, Station Eleven weaves it’s web around what Vonnegut would consider a Karass, a group of people somehow destined to intertwine their lives.
Between the Georgia Flu and the deterioration of what we’ve deemed normal, and the foreboding feelings of post apocalyptic dystopia – Station Eleven enveloped me in a world that felt similar to mine yet so, uniquely separate. For days, I was interchangeably Kirstin and Miranda; I had two knife tattoos on my wrist and I was slowly uncovering bits of myself, like a backwards puzzle piece through her eyes, or I was discovering myself in Miranda’s evolution, in time with the world around me – delving into the worlds beyond with Dr. Elven and into the depths of myself and the Undersea.
Even with the book over, the words ‘Survival is Insufficient’ weave their way through my brain, leaving a permanent reminder to not only find beauty in this world, but to create and curate that beauty as well.
Without spoiling things, here are a few of the quotes that sat with me.
“At moments when other people could only stare, he wanted to be the one to take step forward.”
“I repent nothing”
“…only the dishonorable leave when things get difficult…can you call the pursuit of happiness dishonorable?”
“…if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”
“If you are the light, if your enemies are darkness, then there’s nothing that you cannot justify. There’s nothing you can’t survive because there’s nothing that you will not do.”
“What did it mean to seem like yourself, in the course of such unspeakable days? How was anyone supposed to seem?”
“A fragment for my friend — If your soul left this earth I would follow and find you Silent, my starship suspended in night”
“Hell is the absence of people you long for”
“I don’t believe in the perfectibility of the individual”
“- it’s like the corporate world’s full of ghosts. And actually, let me revise that….to say adulthood’s full of ghosts. I’m talking about these people who’ve ended up in one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed. Do you know what I mean? They’ve done what’s expected of them. They want to do something different but it’s impossible now, there’s a mortgage, kids, whatever, they’re trapped. High functioning sleepwalkers.”
Upon finishing the novel, I wanted to rush to the interwebs and demand that someone make a miniseries of this – low and behold, HBO is already in the process of creating an adaptation of Station Eleven, with The HBO adaptation. Directed by Hiro Murai of Childish Gambino’s This is America and Atlanta fame, I have high hopes for the series and am already anxiously awaiting it’s release.
Station Eleven is a timely and instant classic; the perfect read for our current world situation. After the solitude and self sufficiency of Thoreau’s Walden, this is a close second for me.
What’s a book you’ve read during quarantine that hit close to home in a good way? If you have one to add, let me know in the comments below!
When we first moved up to the Pacific North West a year and a half ago, one of the first things my husband said to me was: “Now, how do we get to those swimming holes?!” Both of us born and raised in California, myself from the Bay Area and him from the High Desert in Southern California – most of our aquatic adventures had been to the beach, or a community pool, or with water balloons in the backyard on a long, hot afternoon. When we lived in Oregon, we lucked out – our new neighborhood friends told us about a stellar iPhone app, aptly titled Oregon Swimming Holes. Now, there are some fantastic applications for Forests in the Pacific North West, as well those for Wildflower, Plant and Fungi Identification – but so far to date, I haven’t seen any remnants of anything similar up here; which initially felt disheartening – but then, we turned it into an adventure; making notes on maps, dropping pins and doing some research.
It wasn’t until weeks later, wrapped in a vibrant conversation with a local that we were slyly informed of where the getting was good. And now that I understand Washington, and Seattle, more and more, I think I know why there isn’t an app that’s easy-peasy, lemon squeazy: they want you to pioneer your own life, to be a maker of your own moments. Washington and Seattle are rich with a strong craft and small business community, and within that – there are strong notions of being able to do for your self, and make it self sustainable. If being told “It rains a lot!” is enough to deter you from either visiting, or moving, you’re probably not going to have a good time; but here’s a hint: it really doesn’t rain a lot! It’s actually beautiful most days, and if you don’t like the weather – just wait thirty minutes. Anyhow, I digress. So, we took their advice – pack up a picnic basket, grab a swimsuit, and take the 2 East; then, enjoy!
So, we took a Summer drive along the winding Skykomish River and let our wanderlust guide us the rest of the way. All along the freeway, there are hidden nooks and crannies where you can hop out of your car, and into the refreshing, roaring waters. Pro Tip: if you’re unsure where to stop, just look at where the other cars along the way are, then plan accordingly and don’t be afraid to double back! I recommend a solid pair of water shoes, as I managed to slice my foot pretty well on the side of a rock – but besides that, my only other piece of advice is to give yourself a whole day and really enjoy marinating in a magical slice of wilderness.
As we gallivanted along our route, a spotted sky gave way into gradients of bright blue, echoing the vibrancy of the lush forest against the rushing Skykomish. It felt like Fern Gully, or even Avatar – and could make you believe that fairy tales were real. Descending down to the waters edge, you could see to the bottom of the river as the water cascaded over, around and even through some of the ancient pieces of rock that were lodged in the river.
“Walk in nature and feel the healing power of the trees.” – Anthony William
From Monroe to Gold Bar, Index, Baring, and the town Skykomish – as you head towards Eastern Washington, it feels like there are an infinite amount of places to get lost for a few hours, so that you can rediscover yourself at your core.
Where do you turn to find your next big adventure? Do you ask around, find an app, research in a magazine or just wing it? Let me know in the comments below!
As the Winter frost finally loosens her grip and ebbs into the succulent scents of Spring – there’s typically only one thing on my, or any of my friend’s minds: what’s the next music festival you’re trying to get to?
My whole life, music has been my backbone – whether it’s dancing, playing flute, in choir or as the sound engineer at the local television station for kicks. As far back as I can remember, from the time I left college in 2008 and moved to Los Angeles – dance music has been a sort of genesis for me, almost chrysalis . It’s introduced me to people that have changed my life, it brought me to the man I’m married to today, it changed my career path, it turned me into a Senior Editor for a world class DJ blog, it gave me an outlet to explore the truth of who I am – and I’m such a better person for it because it gave me back myself.
THAT said, it hurts my heart that with the current Coronavirus crisis – festival season for 2020 is effectively cancelled, and rightfully so. It began with Ultra Abu Dhabi being cancelled back in March, and then it started spiraling. Ultra Miami and Miami Music Week both ‘rescheduled’ for next year, which is a fancy way of saying cancelled. Within days – Tomorrowland Winter, Lightning in a Bottle and SXSW were cancelled this year, while Coachella and EDC were both postponed until the Fall. With a world class array of musical talent for the weekend and many additional music lovers travel from around the globe for their chance to dance late into the morning light; international flights and crowded sweaty nights – it’s not exactly where you want to be if you’re trying to explore social distancing; unfortunately, it even sounds like the type of place you’d really want to avoid.
As a tangent, you have to understand how each cog in the wheel in entertainment operates; if you’re in event production, each current event is using funds allocated from previous events…so without the funding from current projects, future events are in danger as well – not to mention there are boutique festivals who have their entire futures up in the air right now. There are artists and technicians, musicians and dancers, vendors and publicists whose livelihood depends on being able to be booked for these events. Needless to say, we’re all itching to get our grooves back.
But, the good news is that plenty of your favorite artists have their live sets online so you can kick back with a tasty beverage, turn your speakers up, open the windows and have yourself a little quarantine rave all of your own! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite live sets from throughout the years (yes, I mean years!), with a bounce around from genre to genre, festival to festival and artists to artist – I think I’ve got a pretty solid Friday night set. We’ve got Pumpkin and Hot Since 82, Above & Beyond and Ferry Corsten, Chase & Status, Netsky, Kaskade, Skrillex and so much more. I hope you enjoy as much as I loved putting this together. Now excuse me, while I go have a little Flashback Friday dance part all of my own!
Remember: we’re all in this together, so the least we can do is try and find moments of enjoyment, connection, and dance! If you have FaceTime, Twitch or any other type of video conferencing – turn it into a social, invite your friends and get down with the squad digitally. Enjoy, friends – and try and put something funky into your Friday.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of the way that the Coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 has been making it’s way across the globe in an international emergency event that most generations simply have never been part of. And if you have been living under a rock, I hope you’re keeping your rock 6 feet apart from other rocks.
First things first, let’s all admit – these past few weeks have been eye opening, scary, anxiety inducing, etc. Please remember to reach out and check in on each other. HOW ARE YA! How are your family and friends holding up? Have you been remembering to try and get outside, and hold your head up high? We’ll get through this, but we need to remember – the human condition is the necessity to connect, – so let’s connect! Any new books, hobbies, shows you’ve discovered? Any questions or anxieties other people can help answer? Anyone learned a new joke or got a funny meme to share?
Up in Seattle, we are under a Stay at Home order until at LEAST May 5th. It’s a ghost town, traffic is non existent and I’m anxious. But I’m reminding myself: I am healthy, I am okay. My friends are healthy. My family is healthy. We are okay. We will be okay.
But please remember: This is GLOBAL. As a people so are we – we are the human organism, the human condition. Are you healthy? AWESOME. Do you know anyone over 60, with a medical condition or pregnant? Then do your best to keep THEM safe. What is happening does not discriminate based on age, sex, religion or location. Everyone is panicking in their own way. Be kind. Wash your hands. Don’t cough on things.
This is not an excuse to not vote in the upcoming election, if anything this is why we need to mobilize and unite as a nation. The current administration seems to be doing their best to delay testing, from NPR’s reporting – if they can prove our numbers remain low (even if they’re low from lack of testing) they believe it can boost a re-election campaign.
With the decimation of vital industries with hourly workers and a reduction in both business and working hours – there’s a chance for unemployment to balloon again. We need economic safeguards in our communities and states that prevent families and small business on having to default on their loans, mortgages or their rent. We need legislation that prevents utilities from being shut off for non payment. We need UBI, Universal Basic Income, because the economy will essentially tip on its head once the only people who can afford ANYTHING are only the 1%. We need Universal Health Care. There are people, homeless, immigrant, that do not have access to healthcare currently – Washington has reopened their health care election coverage and I hope other states have; but many people still can’t afford THAT version of health care and the only way to truly stop this pandemic is to both test and treat everyone. If you’re for those points above, let me tell you about this guy, Bernie….but we’ll do that in a latest post.
For me: I got a “flu”-like bug twice in three weeks in in January, one time three days after getting the flu shot, I had a fever of 102, body chills, a headache and nausea, it lasted for 4 days; that was when this was all starting – I’m starting to think I had and then got over COVID-19, but without proper access to testing I will not know. I finally finished Walden. I stated a cool book on The Golden Ratio. I started making essential oil perfumes. I tried my best to not freak out.
Now, in the midst of all the ‘Stay at Home’, ‘Shelter in Place’ and ‘Safer in Place’ orders around the country – it’s becoming more imperative than ever that even though we maintain a safe physical distance, that our social nature – our human nature, stays in tact. Thankfully, living in the digital age there are an infinite amount of resources available that make it feel like you’re not so alone.
Keep Your Head Up with These Tips and Tricks
Join a Book Club: Even though reading is a singular activity, that doesn’t mean you can’t make reading social, get a profile on Good Reads. My latest – Walden, by Thoreau, was something I’d been trying to get through for over a year – but by it’s simple nature, and being written by the most famed Transcendentalist, I thought it would be weird to attempt to rush through it and I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s honestly the perfect pick for anyone who is negotiating with any sort of physical isolation from others, and ways we can dive into our own minds.
Create a Collaborative Playlist: Music is one of those things that has the ability to bring people together in a million ways, from when times are good to when times are hard. I’m a self proclaimed Audiophile, and I’m sure most of my friends are, too. I’ve been digging on Spotify for a million different reasons, whether is their end of year analytical roundup, their new artist discovery or the ability to dive steadfast into a band’s discography. Lately, one of my favorite functions in Spotify is the ability to make a collaborative playlist. A few years ago for my wedding, we had our guests get down in a collaborative playlist before the big day and let me tell you – it made our wedding party just that much more fun. In light of everything currently happening, I thought it would be a fun way for my friends to share their latest favorites – so go ahead, jam out and add one or two of your favorites, too!
Go To a Digital Festival: Sign up for Youtube and Twitch and watch a live stream of a concert, Insomniac Event’s had to forgo their fabled Beyond Wonderland festival this year due to current circumstances; and as always, they turned a negative into the most positive of pictures by hosting ‘Virtual Raves’ for both Beyond Wonderland last weekend then Hard Summer Staycation this weekend. From the Brownie’s and Lemonade Squad, we’ve been treated to amazing sets from world renowned and up and coming artists through their Desert Mirage series and last but certainly not least, big big love to both Mad Decent, Beatport and the infinite amount of artists out there that are filling our spirits, warming our hearts, and letting us shake our groove thangs. Some of my favorites from this weekend have already been posted – check’em out!
Foster a Floof: If you’re without a furry friend, or looking to add to your collection – this is a great time to try fostering a pet! It’s proven that having animals around can lower your anxiety while providing adorable stress relief, and plus, being altruistic and caring for others is one of the quickest ways to get out of your own head and into a healthy mental space. The pros at Petfinder have a great web-tool to find local shelters, or simply jump into Yelp or Google Maps and find your closest one. If you happen to have any free time, and aren’t under a ‘SIP’ order, volunteering at the shelter’s is also a great feel good activity!
Be Social with Social Media: In my personal opinion, as a society we are incredibly lucky that what we are going through with the Coronavirus has come at a time where we are vastly, deeply interconnected within our communities. With the Internet, streaming media and social media – we can maintain some semblance of normalcy while going through this strange transitory phase by reaching out to each other. I’ve never been much of a fan of FaceTime, or of Video Conferencing, but I’ve vastly changed by tune over the last few weeks. It’s been lovely to see my friends, cheers them over the phone, and really see them smile – even if we’re miles away.
Sprinkle Some Joy: The biggest takeaway for me is this – you can get through anything with a good spirit, so do things that bring joy, do things that make you happy and do things that make those around you in a better mood. Share a joke, hold back criticism, be gracious, ask questions, engage, laugh, and then maybe – just maybe, share a few memes, they’re honestly great ice breakers if there’s someone you haven’t chatted with in forever. I have a small collection that have been helping me through – maybe they can be just as useful for you!
How are you holding up during this chaotic moment? Any surprising ways you’ve found to be social even in light of being self quarantined? Let me know in the comments below and let’s get through this together ❤