Featured Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂ Travel Stories

Even Whales Say Farewell

So today sadly marks the final installment of a running blogging community participation forum called the Weekly Photo Challenge. The theme is All-Time Favorites. My favorite things to shoot are landscapes, particularly sunsets, and I love Maui, so here is my post featuring a Maui sunset.

Maui sunset © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Maui sunset © 2018 | All rights reserved.

And as a tribute to the last week and to a cherished community of fun, support, and a celebration of growth in more ways than one, I wish you all the very best on your continued blogging journeys and I hope you enjoy the video I made, Even Whales Say Farewell. And don’t forget to check out more beautiful music by composer Jonny Easton.

*Some links may be affiliates which means I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. If you choose to use them I would like to say thank you and I appreciate the support!

Featured Inspiration Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

4 Months of Blogging, 4 Things I Learned

Sunday, January 28, 2018 was when I decided to create a website. I had a moment of inspiration and creativity following an injury the previous week that left me on strict bedrest with casts on both legs. I wanted to share about the things I love, while also taking on the challenge of my technical computer skills. Honestly, I was partly kind of bored and had a difficult time being idle. I wanted to keep my mind busy and keep my cheer and enthusiasm going. At first I didn’t know if I wanted my website to be a more personalized blog or simply a business website. So I opted for a bit of both. What I did know is how much I appreciated other people’s creative writing and photography skillset depicting their adventurous spirit while I was lying in bed, longing to just be able to take photos with the new camera I bought. Prior to my injury; however, I had taken several photos from recent travels. So I decided to curate them and up went my first post, Road Trip to Beautiful Taos, New Mexico.

From a technical standpoint, after a few days, I learned so much. I made several revisions and modified my theme, layout, photos, fonts, color schemes, and content. Not to mention editing a gazillion times over for proper spelling, grammar, context, and style. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I expected that of myself and tried to narrow down my focus. I soon realized that my website will always be a work in progress. I’m continually learning new codes and shortcuts, and as a creative, it’s hard to know when done is done. That’s something to be celebrated though. The journey, the more personal things I’ve learned along the way.

So here are four things I learned during my first four months of blogging.

    1. I have learned a lot about myself. For one thing, I knew my interests were eclectic but putting them in both text and visual form has made my ideas more tangible to me. Even having added the books on my TBR list to my newly created Goodreads account for my sidebar widget was confirmation. In grade school I pretty much always chose the word “eager to describe my work ethic when choosing a description about myself based on the first letter of my name. I wouldn’t necessarily describe my entire persona as eclectic though, but my tastes definitely are. It infiltrates my blog and social media posts as a style of randomness, Here’s a surprise, hope you enjoy, haha. I like it though, keeps me humble and happy.Bee painted flower pot © 2018 | All rights reserved.
    2. We live in a society. There have been times I’ve been indifferent toward various forms of social media. Some of it for personal and professional reasons, sometimes out of concerns about reliability, credibility, privacy, safety, fear of being misunderstood, choosing to be authentic but not oversharing, confidence and self-doubt, balancing quality and quantity, conflict of interest, image and branding, technical ability, pressure, and engagement. Two reasons:
      1. It’s risky to put your creative soul out there on display and not only wanting to be proud of your accomplishments on a personal level but also hoping others gain interest, inspiration, and appreciate your craft. Fluctuations in the amount of followers and engagement hasn’t concerned me as much as I thought it would, perhaps because I know for myself, there are seasons in life and circumstances that make me subscribe and unsubscribe, and later resubscribe, for various reasons like when my interests or life stage changes. However getting my first dislikes on Youtube as a creator was sad. How could anyone outright dislike my particular videos? And why? They didn’t even comment with a reason. My videos come from a place of lightheartedness. Do they realize how many hours it took to compose and edit? Should I blame it on a simple misclick? On the YouTube algorithm? Am I in a state of denial to think anyone would appreciate my talent and hard work? Nobody likes me.
      2. Ok I’m totally exaggerating on the last ones, but the internal struggle of sharing artistry and discouragement is real. Then I remembered a line from Seinfeld “You know we’re living in a SOCIETY!” Being a contributor rather than a consumer of content has taught me a lot about that and to not get caught up in thinking all my initiatives will be everyone’s cup of tea. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, the dislike button is there, and some are going to be more vocal about their disappointment and disapproval. And then there’s trolls and spam.
    3. Have no fear in creativity. I’ve always liked the quote by Dita Von Teese “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” In recovering from my injury with a lot of down time, I realized that there is so much delight in sharing about what you love without the constraint of fear. The interpersonal connections and personal growth with an “I can do this” mentality have been wonderful. It’s also brought a lot of experiential insight into other people’s joys and struggles. As I reflect back, I think of my blog and other social media sites as a creative outlet and a form of expression that says “This was really fun for me” and also “I made this for you!” It has brought me much needed laughter at a time when I was bummed about my injury. It’s funny though because whenever I hear the line “I made this for you” I can’t help but to think about one of early creators on Youtube, Julian Smith. He produced an over-the-top skit about hot Kool-Aid (see video below). It’s definitely an example of being fearless on multiple levels when it comes to expressing creativity.
    4. Share the joy. Building upon a hobby out of an entrepreneurial spirit brings a compelling aspect to allowing others to take part in that same pleasure. But it’s not about having a bazillion people to influence, measuring your worth in likes and dislikes, or being famous on the social internet. Aside from personal satisfaction, it’s about those who may find joy, value, encouragement, and inspiration in what you have to offer. You may never know how you might impact one person’s life in a positive, meaningful way. This morning someone took the time to write a message on the road using chalk. It was a pleasant surprise to me and many others to come across a note that read “You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are appreciated. You are called for a specific purpose in this world.”You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are appreciated. You are called for a specific purpose in this world. Encouraging photo © 2018 | All rights reserved.

I actually enjoy the creative process just as much as I do admiring a finished project. With that, I’d like to share with you not only individual posts as part of my social internet endeavor, but also provide resources for you to be able to create and further develop your own website and perhaps other social media sites as well.

I compiled a list of helps and services on my Resources page. I hope you find them useful.

What have you learned along the way? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear!

*Some links may be affiliates which means I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. If you choose to use them I would like to say thank you and I appreciate the support!

Featured Gardening Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

Spring Has Arrived! Roses Blossoming Time-lapse

My mother’s flower garden is beautiful.

Every Spring tons of roses pop up. It seems like they sneak up, starting with a few buds, then all of a sudden “pop, pop, pop” they all sprout and open up into beautiful flowers just in time for Mother’s Day.

She’s actually got a variety of beautiful perennial flowering plants. Her garden collection includes a variety of roses, irises, lilacs, petunias, marigolds, sunflowers, and her favorite- Shasta Daisies.  Colors range from various shades of vibrant and soft pink to red, white, purple, yellow, and orange. And they’re so wonderfully fragrant.

It’s such a blessing to see them blossom and I was able to capture roses coming into full bloom using my iPhone Xs  rapid sequence film frame feature called time-lapse. It’s actually the capturing of each image that is slower, but when played at normal or high speed, the image sequence appears faster, creating the impression of motion. Interestingly enough, a man named F. Percy Smith debuted his film The Birth of a Flower in 1910, which was the first use of time-lapse in nature photography.

Spring Has Arrived! iPhone X Time-lapse © 2018 | All rights reserved.

I’ll be uploading some more flowers blossoming to my Youtube channel, so be sure to stay tuned!

I hope you enjoyed my post! Let me know what your favorite type of flower is in the comments below!

Beauty Featured Inspiration Photography Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

Wow! That’s Beautiful!

“Wow! That’s beautiful!” was the enthusiastic and highly animated response that my dear friend’s four-year-old daughter would say to just about anything she found even remotely exciting, cute, adorable, or beautiful. Whether it was her little brother reaching a developmental milestone or the floral cushions on my couch.

In celebration of this week’s photo challenge Rise/Set, I couldn’t help but think about not only the brilliant colors and light refractions that define the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, but the beautiful representation of another day gone and another day to come.

In trying to pick out a beautiful photo, I also found it rather difficult to separate the aesthetic appeal from the personal value attached to it. Value in the form of awe-inspiring moments and places shared with family and friends while watching the sun’s disappearance or emergence from the horizon.

In celebration of beauty, I’d like to first present various definitions of the word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says “beauty is the quality of being physically attractive, the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind. “The example provided is described as being full of beauty, such as a beautiful woman.

Fabio © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Interestingly enough when beautiful first became a part of the English language, it was used to describe men as much as it was of women. Nowadays, handsome is the adjective of appreciation most commonly used of men.

Ancient Greek Society used the word kalos (“beautiful”) to describe the aesthetic viewing pleasure of objects and people in addition to morally admirable character. Translations describe it as an adjective meaning “good” or “of fine quality.” Saint Augustine ascribed the origin of beauty, goodness, and existence, as coming from the Creator alone. Plato attributed beauty, goodness, and justice as divine existences and of divine realm.

Alexander G. Baumgarten coined the term “aesthetics” in the 18th century and the literal meaning was a study of human sensibility. Later, in the 19th century, French philosopher Victor Cousin would state “Moral beauty is the basis of all true beauty.”

More recently, Forbes magazine published an article in Spring of 2017 about the estimated $445 billion in sales from at least 40 new beauty companies that were founded by women. While this astronomical amount of value on beautifying products and services may raise some eyebrows, I don’t think it’s a surprise that many of the beautifying marketing terms and techniques are geared towards youthfulness.

It’s a significant contrast; however, to the Koine Greek roots for the word beauty which means “hour” as in the literal appeal of “being of one’s hour.”

Sunset in the Pines © 2018 | All rights reserved.

One of my all-time favorite films about life and culture is Fiddler on the Roof. I remember listening to the song “Sunrise, Sunset” and being intrigued by it’s hypnotic tune while attending my 4th grade music class. The song is quite subdued and was performed at the wedding of Tevye and Golde’s eldest daughter. It’s a beautiful song about time passing by as depicted by the sunrise and sunset.

Is this the little girl i carried,
Is this the little boy at play?

I don’t remember growing older, when did they?

When did she get to be a beauty,
When did he grow to be so tall?

Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise sunset, sunrise sunset
Swiftly flow the days.

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as we gaze.

Sunrise sunset, sunrise sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness and tears.

What words of wisdom can i give them,
How can i help to ease their way?

Now they must learn from one another, day by day.

They look so natural together.

Just like two newlyweds should be.

Is there a canopy in store for me?

Sunrise sunset, sunrise sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness, and tears

Collection of Sample Perfumes © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Here’s about a quarter of my collection of sample perfumes, many of which are impart due to product substitutions from Sephora. Interestingly enough, the name Sephora comes from the Greek spelling of Zipporah, which can mean “little bird,” likely from the beautiful phonetic sound of chirping. Zipporah was also the wife to Moses from the Bible. Scholars have described her as having positively beautiful traits both physically and in her influential social disposition.

But there is one very memorable perfume that debuted in 1985. I remember my grandma wearing it and being gifted to me when it made its reemergence in the 90s. Estée Lauder’s vision, carried out by Evelyn Lauder, was to create a fragrance that made every woman feel she was the most beautiful woman in the room. Beautiful is represented by a bride and is said to be a perfume of a thousand flowers. It’s described as romantic, feminine, and memorable with a rich blend of rose, lily, tuberose, and orange flower. It has notes of brightness due to citrus and warm base notes of sandalwood, vetiver, and amber. It’s very nostalgic for me.

In this post I’d also like to introduce you to a few things, in different forms of media, that I have found to be beautiful and I hope you can enjoy them as much as I have.

Face Paint: The Story of Makeup by Lisa Eldridge © 2018 | All rights reserved.I have a great appreciation for the celebration of beauty through makeup. One book that I’ve been reading (though it’s taken me forever to finish because of what I like to call “Wikipedia spiral”), is Face Paint: The Story of Makeup by Lisa Eldridge. She’s a talented makeup artist who put together a well-curated historical timeline of people and events through the use of different makeup mediums and applications.

It’s interesting to read about the extremes people went to in order to achieve and maintain an aesthetically-pleasing appearance which was often thought of as charm, elegance, nobility, importance, high social status, and power. Cosmetics of the past were often laden with arsenic or lead, such as in the Venetian ceruse. And there were transition periods between ignorance of such ill-effects and outright denial and defiance for the sake of beauty at the expense of one’s health. Interestingly enough, we can still see practice of this concept in mainstream culture to a certain degree today.

With this, I can’t help but think about a beautiful sermon which Martin Luther King Jr. gave called The Drum Major Instinct. The sermon was an adaptation of the 1952 discourse “Drum-Major Instincts” by J. Wallace Hamilton. King brought up the familiar phrase keeping up with the Joneses and the human desire for importance, among many other social inferences.

I will also note that 50 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and it’s amazing how his sermons are still relevant today. He didn’t necessarily self-depreciate, but instead, celebrated his life accomplishments using a very different standard. “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice… Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

I think the celebration of beauty, talents, and accomplishments appreciated by other people from this aspect are often undervalued. Some people may have a distorted view of humility and hence a hard time responding to compliments at times. They refute them instead of simply saying “Thank you” or dumb them down for the sake of reciprocity.

I think it’s important to learn how to better acknowledge someone else’s appreciation. After watching too many episodes of Shark Tank, it’s actually become an ongoing joke in my family that after someone compliments you or after sharing something you did well, we follow it up with the words “That’s one thing I really like about myself.” It brings a comical, yet subtle satirical, humble tone to something that someone else has appreciated. On that side note, wouldn’t you love to see a Mr. Wonderful doll be made where you pull a string and out comes some of Kevin’s most self-acknowledging phrases?

In attempt to gain a better appreciation of the arts in the form of writing, painting, language, and photography, I’ve been enjoying all that The Great Courses Plus has to offer. I highly recommend you check out their courses. It’s a great way to feed your passion for lifelong learning and give you a fresh perspective of beauty and inspiration.

Stefan Kunz is amazing at lettering art. I like his motto “Create something today even if it sucks!”

Lately I’ve been listening to the beautiful and relaxing sounds of piano music from a composer named Peder B. Helland. He posts his songs on his Youtube livestream account Soothing Relaxation.

On that same note, there is a young man from Kazakhstan named Dimash Kudaibergen whose voice has been declared as having the most amazing in the world. He sings with beautiful resonance and it’s amazing how he can control his voice, spanning 5 octaves, 4 tones, and a half tone, effortlessly. From lower baritone to whistle, when you think he’s done tagging the chorus and showcasing the max of his talent range, he takes it up not only a key, but a full octave at times.

Butterfly © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Idealistic proportions, such as the form of the golden ratio in creative design, makes for beautiful architecture. This is done in attempt to find universal validity by applying various mathematical equations. Near perfect symmetry contributes to the mesmerizing fascination of beautiful butterfly wings like this one I shot a while back.

A beautiful story, The Broccoli Tree: A Parable, John Green tells about a tree famously photographed by Patrik Svedberg.


Fiery Sunset © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Sunrises and sunsets. I’m always in awe of them.

This was a long one but I hope you enjoyed it.

Let me know about your appreciation of beautiful things that you’d like to share, something that has made you say “Wow! That’s beautiful!”

*Some links may be affiliates which means I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. If you choose to use them I would like to say thank you and I appreciate the support!

Featured Inspiration Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

The Silent Musician

The Silent Musician

The Silent Musician © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Book Blog Books Featured Inspiration Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

Why is it that books that have pictures of people on the front so boring?

This question comes from a conversation that I had with my brother recently when we were discussing the books on my reading list.

So I looked through my collection which is an assortment of genres. I started with the basic categories. Fiction, nonfiction, hard covers, soft covers, and digital.

Moving Through Molasses by Erica Robbin book © 2018 | All rights reserved.

I tried to remember what I liked and didn’t like. I checked out the comment sections of Amazon and Goodreads on books I have yet to read.

Majority of books with people on them were memoirs and autobiographies, many of which were written by famous people, in addition to self-improvement and personal development.

Could it be true that books featuring people on the cover of them, no matter the genre, whether fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, scientific, thriller, romance, mystery, action… are… boring?

Sure enough, and I have mixed feelings in saying this, but I see the correlation and I think it may be so.

Now I’m not just pointing out books with depictions of silhouettes of people, animations like those seen on children’s books, highly stylized conceptual portraits, or the ones with the only photo of a historical figure known to exist. Most often it’s in reference to those with studio quality self-promoting portraits on the front of them. The traditional focus on the face, heavily posed, “look into the lens” or “act like you’re in a deep thought,” type of photo, whether it’s a head-shot or full body framing, a single person or multiple people.

100 Ways by Erica Robbin book © 2018 | All rights reserved

And of course the question and answer is very subjective to the reader and evidence to support this claim is anecdotal to say the least.

I’ve met plenty of authors who have strategically placed pictures of themselves on the front cover of their book. And I have to say there are some talented people that are definitely interesting in person and tell amazing stories, just not in writing. I don’t want to offend anyone by calling them out by name; nonetheless, I can safely say that after looking over my collection, not one of these types of books are among my most favorite and it’s strictly because of the “boring” factor.

It’s widely known that people sell. However could the intentional or unintentional display of people on the cover of a book also be an ineffective attempt to compensate for the lack of content that’s actually inside or is it just coincidence? Looking back at when I purchased these books, did I fail to heed to the warning signs of advertising tactics that led to the over-promise and under-delivery of my reading experience? Certainly they weren’t always the most horrible books I’ve ever read, but low-ranking and just plain boring, as in the very definition of tiresome, persistently slow, and dull.

Find Your Inner Monotony © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Association techniques have been used in the visual marketing industry for years. You only get a couple of seconds to capture an onlooker’s attention with a single image cover design and title. It’s a great way of showcasing your work and gain publicity among those who already know your face. It works really well in a lot of types of media.

On the contrary are books with people on the cover a good indication of a poorly closed gap between the cover and the content, akin to modern-day clickbait, leaving you feeling deceived and robbed of your investment of time, money, and joy? What I’d like to know is how a writer and publisher decide that a glamour pose from a moderately famous person should be used instead of a really cool graphic, outdoor scene, or animal?

Get the Real Tea book © 2018 | All rights reserved.

If it’s about the money that can be made on book sales, then where is the line drawn to include or not include a self-portrait so they can cash in on their appearance? Oh the conscience of a publisher, to be torn in the moment of decision-making. How can I tell this well-known, enthusiastic person that their book is like a lullaby, but if we put their photo on it, front and center, we’ll be golden?

As an optimistic approach, a self-portrait could simply help observers know that the book is likely written in first person, includes real stories based off their personal experience and values, and is possibly more opinion oriented than the others on the shelves. I can understand the desire to send a friendly message connecting the reader to the author by reaching out in a humanly way, and faces can easily do that. On the other hand, I’ve read books without people displayed on the cover that have been incredibly boring, but in exploring this concept, it’s definitely the exception.

If you’ve seen a really neat graphic on what looks like an amazing novel, but then see a person on the front, does it change your perception and drive you away or draw you closer? And in any case, have book covers with people on them created a false expectation of a personal connection and good entertainment only to leave you disappointed?

Tatooine Final Frontier by Erica Robbin book © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Or even worse, did their serial publications resulting in your serial purchases really help build the literary collection you were hoping for? Successions of repetitive themes like a broken record, drawn out sentences without any substantiative, usable information. Like random ideas written down on paper, torn into pieces, tossed in the air, collected, slightly embellished, and cleverly repackaged just in time for the top selling season. They go on and on and I can go on and on because I have a lot of experience reading them. Rigid, chronological details of every personal encounter and conversation. Book fillers. Vague hints at half-formulated concepts coupled with overly descriptive character traits. Life lessons learned, but they leave me asking “What’s the point?” and “What time is it?”

It’s a very different approach compared to the reasons behind using pen names. The vulnerability of known authorship goes both ways and there’s no hiding from it. Even if a book cover leads to a better sale, the ratings tell the truth of the story from cover to cover. Some ratings even go above and beyond by including details about the “delivery.” Reading one-star reviews (“because no stars wasn’t a choice”) on books that had pictures of people on the cover was hilarious. I typically don’t read them because I’m afraid they’ll give the ending away. It’s pure reading entertainment though in itself and just like other product reviews on Amazon, a collection of them would make a great coffee table book.

Take a look at your own books. You don’t have to perform a comprehensive book review or become an expert literary critic. Just ask yourself, “Have the books you read with people on the cover fall on the boring side of the spectrum compared to other books you’ve read?”

Did they tell a super compelling story or contain interesting information? Were they insightful and influential? Were they engaging to the point that you found yourself pondering over it or did they change your life in an amazing way? Apart from emotional appeal, did you like the writing styles? Were they dynamic and intriguing or mostly gibberish? And ultimately, did you find yourself feeling like you’ve wasted your time, dredging through to the end even though you didn’t really want to continue reading, then glanced at the cover, only to feel conflicted and even more sorry?

I’m really curious to see if you’ve ever looked through your books, saw the correlation, and can relate. Maybe you disagree and have read several books that fall completely outside of the proposed question.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green book dust jacket © 2018 | All rights reserved.

I recently finished John Green’s latest book Turtles All the Way Down. Much like the rest of his books, I enjoyed reading it. I won’t go into details about the plot because I’ll end up giving everything away. It’s very different from his usual style and I appreciated his writing expression for purposes of the story.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green book © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Take notice that it doesn’t have people on the cover of it, yet it’s a very personal story. It’s been ranked #1 New York Times Bestseller, #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller, and #1 International Bestseller, amongst other positive recognitions. I highly recommend it and I also think it should get double the stars for the little gem of a tuatara debossing on the main cover of the book.

Let me know what books you most and least enjoyed and your thoughts about them in relation to the question “Why is it that books that have pictures of people on the front so boring?”

I look forward to seeing if you noticed some of these things or gained insight into the question and what your answer is. I know I can’t be bitter or read too much into it. I’m just sorely disappointed that I never made the connection before and used my energy and time pushing through books that had an obvious clue of boredom attached to them. Perhaps in the future I’ll be better discerning about not judging a book by its cover. Tell me what do you think. After all, it’s just a thought for a rainy day! If anything this post was a fun opportunity to practice my newly developed image editing skills and post in response to A Face in the Crowd and I hope you enjoyed it!

Check out Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green which will be coming out Fall 2018 and is available for preorder. It actually doesn’t have a cover yet, so the anticipation is real in more ways than one *UPDATE- The book has been released now and the cover is beautiful!

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green book © 2018 | All rights reserved.

Also don’t forget to support your local library and local bookstore, you might find some treasures there you can’t find in big box brick and mortar and online retail stores. Subscribe so you don’t miss out on upcoming adventures! Have a great day and happy reading!

*Some links may be affiliates which means I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase using them at no additional cost to you. If you choose to use them I would like to say thank you and I appreciate the support!