In Like a Lion

March 9th, 2015 | Posted by Jill in slow down - (0 Comments)

When February rounds the corner and the calendar creeps into March, that’s usually when my spirits begin to lift. The tiniest hint of warmer weather – like today’s very-tolerable sunshine – kicks me in the pants and helps me remember that I might start seeing little green bulb shoots in the garden soon. And to start checking the cherry blossom bloom watch map. (NO SIGN YET!) This time of year, the winter fog lifts off our collective shoulders and people start to smile a little more easily… at least until the spring rains start. I won’t lie: this winter has been a bit of a bear. I haven’t been traveling much for work, so my escapism has been limited to some serious Netflix binge-watching. I finally watched the entirety of Twin Peaks (WHY?! WHY DID I WAIT THIS LONG?!), and got totally hooked on Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.”

the corner deli

[PHOTO: Kenmare and Cleveland Place. Hasselblad 501CM + Ilford Delta 3200]

I’ve had to dig deep to find inspiration this winter. Despite the last couple of months of snow storms and oppressive cold, I did try and keep up with my yoga practice. Emotionally, it’s been a huge stabilizing force and one for which I’ve been so thankful. Each moment I spend to reflect and calm my mind has helped me get un-stuck from a lot of the thinking that otherwise dampens my creativity. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but taking the time to meditate and focus has resulted in greater clarity about the goals I need to set for myself – creatively, professionally, spiritually. It also helps that I’ve found a yoga teacher who’s great at reminding me to be gentle and kind to myself – and embrace my sense of humor. I can’t wait for her upcoming web series about the cult of yoga in NYC, which should be hilarious.

Beyond yoga, I’ve also been trying to see as much live music as I can muster the past couple of months. There have been a bunch of gems: Steve Gunn for the Rough Trade one-year anniversary party, Ryley Walker at Baby’s All Right, an old school six-hour set from Paul van Dyk at a ‘secret’ warehouse show on Atlantic Avenue on the coldest night of the year. One of my favorite local bands, NYC’s own Heaven, with OKC’s BRONCHO at Rough Trade. A massively noisy and fun night seeing Disappears and Suuns with impressive local opener Christines. Over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that live music is basically medicine for me, especially in the winter. It puts so much in perspective and helps drown out negativity. It amplifies my own inspiration and creative process. It completely enables my addiction to vinyl.

Though I can’t fully credit yoga or music or whatever else I’ve been doing to get ‘unstuck’, I am happy I’ve been making some progress on the photography front as well. It’s been a couple of months since I launched my new website, so this weekend I gave myself an assignment to write and edit a new photo essay. Excited to share some photos from a quick trip to Madrid later this week! While I was at it, I wanted to overhaul some existing content. So I added new maps and started researching ways I can share my favorite spots to eat, what I loved to see, and recommended photo walks. I’ve considered sharing my itineraries in full, but I’m not exactly sure what’s the most helpful. Foursquare? Google Maps? TripAdvisor? That new Pinterest Maps thing – is it any good? So many options, must investigate further.

I’m really looking forward to the warmer weather this week. Little lamb, welcome. Please stay awhile.

I don’t want to speak out of turn, but I think I speak for us all when I say ENOUGH ALREADY! I think the expression on this adorable French bulldog’s face says it all: is winter over yet?! The past few weeks of bitter temperatures, black ice and snow storms have been enough to make even the best of us ask hard questions about our own sanity. One morning last week, my weather app read 30 degrees and when I stepped out on my stoop, I thought to myself: “Ah! Spring!” Dark times, people. Dark times.

However, I did get caught unexpectedly in the snow yesterday, and rather than complaining my way home, I took the opportunity to wander my way through SoHo and try to be inspired. It was lovely. So in an attempt to try and make some photographic lemonade, I also wandered my way through the ol’ Flickr pool and found some lovely images there. Check out some of my favorites below!

“Manhattan Bridge in the Snow,” by BSEinBrooklyn:
Manhattan Bridge snow 2

“A Saturday Afternoon at Prospect Park,” by Eric Nichols:
A Saturday afternoon at Prospect Park

“Bedford / North 7th,” by Jonathan Percy:
Bedford / North 7th

“The Ice Fields of Prospect Park” and “Venus the Frenchie,” by Jason Duncan:
The ice fields of Prospect ParkMy dog Zelda's doggie friend Venus the Frenchie.

Untitled, by Greta Punch:
000037

“Brooklyn Borough Hall Disappearing Into the Snow,” by Ed Newman:
Brooklyn Borough Hall Disappearing Into The Snow--NYC, 1/26/15

“The Sheets,” by Andrew Morhrer:
the Sheets

I really can’t believe that it’s already February, kids. Even though I’ve not been traveling nearly as much as I did at the end of 2014, it feels like things have been just as busy! But it’s been a GOOD busy. I went to Sundance to see the premiere of a film into which my brother put a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I met Jon Krakauer, ran face first into Tobey Maguire, and tried so many delicious whiskeys. And I finally launched a new website!

Along with the January Cure project that seems to be turning into my annual thing (nevermind that it is stretching WELL into February now – update soon!), I had a long-overdue goal to launch a new personal site for my photos. For the last couple of years, I’ve been digitally tossing and turning between different approaches and it’s been driving me crazy. What can I say? I’m a commitment-phobe. Even though it’s annoyingly self-indulgent, I thought I’d share a bit of my journey launching this new site. I’ve commiserated with so many photographer friends who wrestle with these same issues, and if I can help even a tiny bit, I’m happy to. The existential angst these decisions caused me was real and paralyzing. I’ve had photographer’s block for a long time now. I’m finally pulling through.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.41.00 AM

My first problem was the platform of choice. Where did I want to run the portfolio site? I originally built it out on WordPress via a .org installation to my own server (which I do love dearly and on which this site is run). I cobbled together as much PHP and CSS as I could manage and probably customized three or four different themes I thought could halfway work. I dragged this out over probably a year and a half, maybe longer. I reached the point at which the coding of the site was becoming a greater focus and way more time-consuming than the editing of the photos, which should’ve been my first priority. I was using these technical challenges as a way to avoid making any sort of artistic progress. I made three or four very passable sites, but because I couldn’t get the site templates to render perfectly, they went to the scrap pile. Basically, I was deluding myself and wasting my own time.

To solve for this, I took the technical considerations out of play. I signed up for a Squarespace account and cut myself off from playing technical support. But then came the existential questions. Why the heck did I even need a portfolio site? I’m not a pro photographer, so why would I need to organize my work in a way that pretended I was? Aren’t portfolio sites kind of boring and overly circumspect in the first place? What about FTLOB? What do I do with this space here? Do I still want to write about Brooklyn or should I just give up everything altogether? I had found yet another way to waste my own time, now with much greater proportions of psychological drama! Are you sensing a recurring theme yet, or what?

Sensing that all this self-talk was possibly not the healthiest nor the most productive, I gave it a rest for awhile. I tried to be optimistic and kind to myself. I asked myself simpler questions, like what exactly do I want to do with this personal site? What do I want to share there? I eventually realized that, at the root of it all, I have missed sharing stories – both my own AND others’. More specifically – and this is where I finally started unlocking the use case I was trying to solve for – I want to be able to share cohesive sets of photos from my travels. This type of work doesn’t really translate well to an Instagram stream or the new Flickr UI and I needed a solution. (Side note: since when is there an internet war against white space?)

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.36.05 AM

In an attempt to focus in on what I’ve been missing, my new site will serve one simple purpose for now: short travel essays and image galleries! (And also URL sentences. So sue me.) So many of these images have been locked up for far too long and I want to share. Once I landed on this laser-focus, everything came easily. I gave myself a manageable goal and started by building galleries and writing essays for three of the mind-blowing trips I took last year: my first backcountry hike into Glacier National Park, a long weekend trip to Alaska and Kenai Fjords, and a solo road trip I took down the California coast to check out Big Sur. Ah, I love the smell of the redwoods — almost as much as I love the feeling of releasing these photo essays to the wild. I’m so happy to share them with you. I expect to add some fun sets over the next couple of months (Ticino! Madrid! New Orleans!), but I already feel so much relief at having a space to share things in this format. Yay for progress!

Along the way, I also sadly realized that what got lost in the shuffle of these decisions was this site. For the Love of Brooklyn was started to celebrate all the awesome photographers I’ve encountered and share their stories as a love letter to the borough where I’ve made my home for the last ten years. Somewhere along the way, this mission was lost. Somewhere along the way, I stopped organizing the photo walks I grew to love so much and which brought amazing new friends into my life. I desperately miss it all.

This year, it’s coming back. Just as soon as my face doesn’t instantly freeze the moment I walk outside. Promise.

Who’s in for the next photo walk?!

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Last year, I decided to participate in Apartment Therapy’s month-long January Cure, which focuses on achieving a manageable level of organizational zen and trying to give your house some love. While the month of January was fairly productive for me, I definitely didn’t follow the calendar religiously. At the end of last January, I still had a bunch of things on my list that I really wanted to get done and was disappointed when I didn’t follow through. Hey, at least they’re my OWN unrealistic expectations.

When I headed back to my parents’ house in Kansas City for the holidays, I stumbled on my original January Cure list while I was on the plane. I realized there, 30,000 feet in the air, that I had actually gotten a lot of things checked off the list last year – even more than I thought! A lot of the tasks didn’t get accomplished in January (ugh, I still have framed art EVERYWHERE), but I think the conscious intention of those tasks helped me keep them in mind over the whole year. As I look forward to my second January Cure (which starts today!), I thought I’d share my list from last year as well as a few photos of the progress. Starting in on my new list this weekend — kitchen, you’re next.

If you’d like to participate, sign up here and let me know! Would love to hear about your progress.

January Cure // 2014

Living Room:
– Find a home for all unhung art
– Organize film archive
– Give a permanent home to books [new shelves!]
– New Stendig calendar
Dining Room:
– Donate clothes
– Organize magazines
– Go through sideboard + organize
– Donate armchairs
– Donate old surround sound system
Vestibule:
– Go through shoe bins and donate
– Donate coats, scarves, gloves
– Hang peace print
– Implement new mail system
– Clean windows / front door
Kitchen:
– Install door magnets / latches
– Install baskets in base cabinets
– Donate extra dishes + utensils
– Paint and hang doors on cabinets
– Finish countertop + install
– Figure out backsplash
Bathroom:
– Caulk everything!
– Hang artwork
– Organize bathroom closet
– Install a hand towel hook
– Buy new towels
– New lighting in hall
Master Bedroom:
– New duvet & sheets
– Hang poster over bed
– Figure out bed linen storage
– Buy floor-length mirror
– Install wardrobe handles
– Plan and install Elfa closet organizer
– Find a home for all posters / art
Guest Bedroom:
– Organize file cabinet & papers
– Plan and install closet organizer
– Purge + donate closet contents
– Hang artwork
Zach’s Office:
– Try not to have a panic attack every time you go in there

More Fun: Progress Photos!

Favorite part of last year’s cure: SEXXXY NEW CLOSET. Can’t wait to do this in the guest bedroom too!
2014-02-09 13.29.072014-02-09 13.29.47

Donating old gnarly furniture made space for new FLOR rugs and super comfortable Eames shells for the dining room.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset2014-04-07 20.46.09

An organized vestibule is a happy way to come home, and a nice perch for Kitten! (He is a total camera hog.)
2014-01-26 14.08.252014-01-26 14.16.40

Is there anything you’re hoping to get done in January? Would love to hear about it!