Well Said

Some great quotes, done in pretty awesome typographies too!  You can see more here.

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Sneak Peek

I’ve been busy the past few weeks, working on prototypes of new designs using the lost wax technique.  It’s a lot of fun, though daunting at times.  But I truly enjoy the experience of delving deeply into a process and learning every detail and nuance.

It’s kind of like being in a relationship with another person.  You find out how the material reacts to different temperatures, pressures and tools.  You uncover amazing qualities that may not be apparent at first, that make you fall just that much deeper in love.  And you learn to work through the rough patches and come out appreciating the special relationship you have with this craft.

My hope is to get everything ready by the busy gifting season.  In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of a ring that was inspired by this quote. It celebrates the beauty of the mountainside, not the mountain peak, because it is on the mountainsides where things grow.  And it is in the process, not the final outcome, where we can find moments that enrich our lives.

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Mountains Beyond Mountains

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While on our backpacking trip, we both read the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”  It is one of those perspective-changing books that is philosophical and comforting at the same time.  One of my favorite passages from the book is this:

“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire…then when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose…these are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.”

The quote spoke a lot to me, because it captured what I felt was lacking in my life:  Peace of mind that stems from being present and fully engaged in the moment.  I’ve always been a pretty goal-oriented person.  While it’s good to be self-motivated, I’ve come to realize that it’s not healthy to define accomplishment solely as that final check mark.  It’s better to do fewer things but do them well, to allow each process be a fertile ground of learnings, to savor and appreciate every moment and detail, and to enjoy myself.

If you have read any books that have helped shape your view, please let me know!  I am currently reading this fascinating book.

Have a great Monday!

{Photo: Taken of the horizon while riding our longtail boat into Railay, an island in Thailand}

Solitude

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Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.  It’s not related to any big project or impending deadline.  The best way I can describe it is feeling that I am never alone in solitude.  Now, let me clarify that statement for a second.  Physically, I am alone for most of my day.  I work from home with only a couple of basil plants and a tiny moon cactus keeping me company.

But mentally my mind is all over the place.  It is constantly distracted by technology: my phone, my computer, back to my phone.  If I am not checking my email, I am texting, tweeting, facebooking, web surfing, then back to checking my email (as if a two minute interval would’ve really produced a mountain of new communications).  At the end of each day, I feel drained, as if I’ve been holding my breath all day, without having let go.

It concerns me that I’ve lost the ability to sit still.  Like really still.  I miss solitude and connecting to myself amidst each day’s chaos.  I wish I could pluck myself away from the hubbubs of society and land inside a humble shack by a desolate beach, with nothing but clothes to keep warm, food to keep me full, and a book to keep me entertained.

Can you relate to what I am saying? I think technology is taking over our lives: it’s good in a lot of ways but not so good when it comes to keeping us grounded in ourselves.  We’re constantly on the lookout for something new and interesting tweeted/texted/instagrammed by someone else.  If we happen to be doing something new and interesting, we feel compelled to share instead of immersing ourselves completely in that moment.

I am guilty of all of the above and I am tired of it.  In many ways, I miss the good old days when technology didn’t take over our lives, when life felt more human.

Photograph by Melissa Days at WanderingOgraphy.

Scent of My Youth

Scents are like songs- one whiff and it instantly carries you back to another time, another place.

So, meet my youth:

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I dug up a half empty bottle of this perfume in my bathroom storage bin last night.  One spritz and I was gone.  Back to college: John Mayer songs on replay, an empty dorm room full of promises & possibilities, stolen kisses, a green green campus (I choose to forget Philly winters), a hopeful optimism that was buoyed by every new face and experience.

I look back to that time with nostalgia. But I would not necessarily want to relive it.  Once is enough and you preserve the good times as vividly as you can in your memory bank.  A spritz once in a while doesn’t hurt either.

Floating By

The past few days I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about making active decisions in life.  It all started with a magazine article that talked about “floating” as a condition in which we accept circumstances and take whatever life gives us.  Fast forward, one day we wake up living a life in a city with another person and working at a job that makes us “happy enough” but are not quite what we envisioned for ourselves.

I think for a large part of my life, I was floating.  Things happened so easily for me.  I did what was expected of me and I felt good achieving them.  My measurement of success rested heavily on the opinions of the people I looked up to.  I wasn’t unhappy.  But I didn’t feel alive.  At times life felt a bit lethargic, like I could just float (there it is again) through it with one eye shut.  At other times, life felt unnecessarily stressful, like I was spending my energy worrying about things that didn’t matter that much to me.

Right around my mid-twenties, I went through my first of many quarter-life crises (man, our 20s really trip us up!).  If you’ve been through that process, you know the familiar symptoms and soul-searching questions.  And to be honest, I still don’t have it all figured out (hey I’m still in my 20s).  What I do know, however, is that life is not a perfectly laid out itinerary.  Part of the fun (and scariness) is that you don’t ever quite know where you’re headed.  On top of that, there is no longer a “right” or “wrong” direction to go (I think that’s why school felt so comforting).  So you’ve got to listen to that voice in your head and trust when something doesn’t feel right.  You’ve got to actively question why you make or forgo decisions.  At the risk of being entangled in philosophical questions that have no clear cut answers, you’ve got to spit out those questions and allow yourself the pleasure (and torture) of digging a way out.  And you’ve got to have the courage to face an answer that feels right but f**king scary as hell.

Philly On My Phone

Did you have a good weekend?

I paid a quick visit to the city I used to call home.  Walking around campus and familiar neighborhoods, mixed emotions coursed through me.  It was fondness mixed with some bittersweetness.  Memories flashed by in unexpected places and unexpected vistas showed up in faded parts of my memory.  I felt this nostalgia and a little tinge of sadness that those days are behind me, and that all the cast of characters have dispersed near and far, never to be gathered in the same place under the same circumstances again.  Above all, I felt a desire to go back to those days but relive them as I am today: older and wiser enough to be more impetuous.

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“Art is the center of the real world”

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Paint the sky

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Sunday readings by Independence Hall

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Hot Chip @ the Electric Factory