Monday, July 11, 2011

5 Reasons You Might Hate Where You Live

I have noticed that most people wish that they lived somewhere else. In snowy Alaska, there are people secretly saving pictures of sunny, sandy Florida on their computer. In Florida, there are people cutting pictures of snowy mountains out of magazines, daydreaming of someday escaping the heat. This isn't a point I need to drive home, you have probably felt this way from time to time. I tend to be overtaken by location envy every once in a while... or sometimes all of the time. The question is, why? I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and here are my thoughts.
1. You aren't tapping into the resources around you
Because life is sometimes stressful, and we all get bogged down with responsibilities... you might be missing out on some really cool things right in your back yard. Maybe there is a beautiful State Park, local diner or vegan restaurant right around the corner. Maybe there is a small group of raw foodists, vegans, knitters, artists, dancers ir whatever-your-thing-is near you. Try going to and see what is going on in your area. Also, in most areas, there are a variety of locally owned businesses that you could not find a duplicate of anywhere else. is also a good resource for finding cool, local things. Oh, and if you don't think you have time do anything fun... get off the internet. You will have so much time on your hands.
2. Assumptions and Beliefs
Have you ever heard yourself say, "People are nicer in [Insert Location]" or, "People here are so ignorant/rude/uneducated/ [insert negative adjective] here"? Something to remember is that there are rude, obnoxiuos people everywhere. I'm not saying this in an attempt to put a damper on your faith in humanity; but you will never escape negative people... so you might as well learn how to coexist with them and seek out people that do not drive you crazy.
3. When you visit another place, you are 100% having fun
When you are on vacation, you are most likely relaxing the entire time. The place where you live is where you work, go to school, do laundry, clean the house and do all of those mundane, every-day things. Sometimes people accidentally associate their every-day stress with the place they live, when really it's just things that everyone has to do that no one really wants to do.
4. You are just unhappy
I have experienced this, and I think a lot of people have. You have a deep, unhappiness... depression, maybe? Family issues, a stressful job, money troubles... we've all got them. I think that it's important to take care of your own emotional well being, and then it will be clear if you need to make major changes so that you are not dragging your inner unhappiness with you into another city.
5.  You actually are in the wrong place
You feel out of place because you are out of place. Maybe you are in a long distance relationship, are in a foreign city for a short term job, live across the country from your kids or your mom is more than a train ride away. Maybe you are a surfer and you live in Chicago. Maybe you are a city mouse and you have found yourself in the country.
Maybe you need to move.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

5am thoughts

Here I go again... 5am, haven't gotten any sleep yet. I've been doing this a lot lately. These late nights that melt into early mornings usually bear excessive creative productivity by daylight. However, tonight, I've been listening to slam poets like their words are piecing back the loose ends of my brain.

 "It took me years to learn…flying is not pushing away the ground."
On a different note; I have been reading a bit about Hindu philosophy and Middle Eastern myths/legends. A story that stood out to me this morning was that between the god of Love, Krishna, and his lover Radha. The story goes that Krishna radiated Love to the point that he couldn't keep from falling into a deep, passionate romance with everything alive (The story goes on to explain that he made this practical by replicating himself and seducing eight women at once. Nice.). Of course, this made his lover extremely jealous. She was always trying to channel his Love back to only her (She even goes so far as to steal his flute, as she is jealous that it recieves his breath.). The story can be seen as a metaphor between the soul and the ego. The soul wants to love *everything*. It wants to embrace every living thing. The ego pulls it back, containing the Love (Although, of course- can go too far and become jealous.). It dawned on me how interesting it is that the ego, in this story, wasn't the bad guy... but just another being deserving love and guidance. 
Well, loves, daylight is opening her eyes. I think I am going to take a walk and enjoy the morning.

Things to Do in an Ice Storm by Lauren Zuniga

This poem really spoke to me today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Here's to my awesome mom...

I'm a bit late wishing my mom a happy mother's day... my family and I were at a park and I was away from my computer all day.
My mom and I. 2009.
So, a day late- here's to my mom! I hope that someday I will be as graceful and strong as she is.
My mom and my brother, Sam. 2002.

Friday, April 29, 2011

12 Tips on Interacting with a Wheelchair User

Sometimes people feel awkward when meeting someone in a wheelchair, which is understandable. The fear of saying something insensitive or being distracted by the person’s disability is entirely normal. People give power to the fear around disabilities by making it seem like these people are very, very different from everyone else. However, a lot of us have used adaptive devices and don't even know it. Most people use glasses to read better. We ride bikes or use cars to reach long distances. Most of us had braces on our teeth when we were in middle school. Not to mention the minor injuries that temporarily put people on crutches or in casts. The point I am trying to make is that sometimes people (with or without disabilities) need external support to get through their day.
Here are a list of things to keep in mind when interacting with someone using an assistive device such as a wheelchair. Most of these come from the years I spent using adaptive devices but also from conversations I have had with people who have disabilities.
  1. Avoid assumptions. People use wheelchairs for a lot of different reasons. Some people need wheelchairs for only long distances while others are completely non-ambulatory. Some people are in wheelchairs due to injuries, while others have illnesses and have varying levels of function from week to week.
  2. Speak directly. Unless the wheelchair user is unable to answer for herself; it is rude to ask her caretaker or friend a question that should have been directed at her. Also, there is no need to speak slow or loud unless the person you are talking to asks you to.
  3. Get on eye level. It can be very intimidating for the other person to be looked down at for an entire conversation. Unless you are quite short; get on your knees or pull up a chair to talk.
  4. Don’t draw attention Well meaning comments such as “Wow, look at those wheels fly!” or “Hey, speedy!” can be meant in great fun but in excess can be annoying to the wheelchair user because it is drawing attention to the disability.
  5. Don't be afraid to offer help. If you see a wheelchair user struggling to open a door or reach something on a high shelf; it is perfectly acceptable to ask if they need help. If they don't, they'll say no.
  6. Don't ask the question. It is always unacceptable to walk up to a stranger and ask them what is wrong with them and for-the-love-of-god don't ask if they will ever walk again. It doesn’t matter what infirmity they possess that sets them apart, it’s just not good manners. It's really mean to be annoying to someone who can't kick you.
  7. Be Inclusive. When in a conversation with a group of people, don't stand in front of the person in the wheelchair. This blocks them out of the conversation. Try to remember to open up a circle more to include the person in the wheelchair.
  8. Be Sensitive. Referring to a wheelchair user as anything other than a wheelchair user can sound condescending or insensitive. Labels such as Incapacitated, Crippled, Victim, and Invalid should never be used as they can sound belittling. Also, avoid the assumption that this person is courageous or some kind of martyr. They are just a person doing the best they can with the cards they've been dealt; they don't need to be put on some kind of pedestal.
  9. Respect their space. The wheelchair is a part of that person’s space. Leaning on it (particularly if you are not even interacting with this person) or touching it without permission can feel like an invasion of personal space (This goes the same for any other adaptive device they may also be using.). Also, don’t ever push a wheelchair without the occupant’s permission. Be sensitive to the fact that the wheelchair user can not see you and has very little control over the chair while someone else is pushing. Because of this fact; don't be surprised or offended if they don't want you to push their chair if they do not know you very well.
  10. Be thoughtful. If you are accompanying someone in a wheelchair to a public place, it’s always helpful to take note of where the ramps, elevators and wheelchair accessible bathrooms are.
  11. Don't move the chair. If the wheelchair user transfers to a different seat (couch, bed, kitchen chair, etc.); don’t move the wheelchair without their knowledge, and especially don’t take a ride in it without their permission. Sometimes people have bladder catheters or IV bags attached to their chair (Ouch!). Also, they most likely can't get up and hunt you down to get their chair back.
  12. The Parking Issue. Don’t park in the loading zone next to a handicap parking space. People who can’t stand usually do a sliding transfer from the seat of the car to their wheelchair which requires extra space beside the car (The space also can be used for unloading a ramp or lift.). If a wheelchair user comes back to their car and some one has parked in the loading zone; they have no way of getting back in their car and have to wait for you to get done shopping before they can go home. Also, if you have a handicap placquard but do not need a loading zone; try looking for non-handicap spaces close to the front of the building before resorting to parking in a space with a loading zone.
    When you first befriend a person with a disability, it will feel like a big deal and maybe you will make a few accidental faux pas. However, with a little time, you'll forget about the disability and all of this stuff will become second nature.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Snippet From Something I've Been Writing

Though these moonbeams will not leave me
and the sunshine is god herself
I am angry with the state of this world
I am nestled in the safety of a grove of trees behind my home
the grass is perfect beneath my feet
the sun is pink behind my eyelids
and yet I am enraged
I don't know who I am angry at
I think it is the same person who decided a moth was less sacred than a butterfly
or the person who decided plump yellow flowers were weeds
Maybe it is the surgeons who anesthetize women under altars of steel; transforming chubby faced beauties into symbols of monetary value

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Touch the Earth: A Portrait of Indian Existence

I was perusing through a used bookstore a few weeks ago... not really looking for anything in particular. When I'm in a bookstore.... I'm kind of like a four year old in a candy shop without a grownup. I open every book that looks interesting to a random page and test it out... If it continues to interest me, I sit on the floor and read the first chapter. If not, I put it back on the shelf. I grabbed this book in my mad book-consuming frenzy and was blown away by the paragraph I randomly opened it up to.

"You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round.... Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The Sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were, The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tipis were round like the nests of birds and these always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children."

That paragraph reminded me of an essay by R.W. Emerson that I have always held close to my heart. 

"The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end. It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world. St. Augustine described the nature of God as a circle whose center was everywhere, and its circumference nowhere. We are all our lifetime reading the copious sense of this first of forms. One moral we have already deduced, in considering the circular or compensatory character of every human action. Another analogy we shall now trace; that every action admits of being outdone. Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens."

Oh, and this of course ties in with my affinity for fractals and the fractal universe theory.

I wish I could give you the entire book in this post, but it's far too complex and time-consuming to explain it all. You'll just have to read it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sam Bam 717

My ten year old brother shoots and edits these awesome videos and posts them on Youtube. He taught himself how to edit a while ago and has been going crazy with it.

You can check out his videos via the video below or going to his channel at

Monday, April 4, 2011

Something I have been thinking about a lot...

Lately, I have been drawing a lot of fractal shapes (Fractals are a geometric shape that can be divided into small parts, each of which replicate the whole.). As I've been drawing, I've been thinking a lot about the pattern and geometry of it all.

An idea stirred in my mind, and after looking up some things on fractals; I've realized I'm not the only one to think this.
What if this entire world is a chain of fractals? What if each atom is its own universe, and this planet is just an electron in a greater atom that is our galaxy. What if each galaxy makes up one atom of an entirely bigger universe... What if our birth, death and rebirth is merely a transcendence from one fractal to another (If so, are we becoming smaller or larger?).

The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Fundamental Elements of Southtown

P.O.D. has been a huge influence on my art... Stealing the albums from my brother'a room when I was little-little was always a fun crime to get away with. This is partly because I wasn't supposed to mess with his stuff, and partly because Daniel wasn't allowed to listen to them either. Yeah, I would put the music on and I've always like them- however, the thing that really captivated my attention was the album art. Even to this day, I draw a lot of things inspired by those albums.
I hadn't even given a lot of thought about how much I subconsciously drew from the style in these albums until I was putting CD's away with my sister in law the other night and I saw the (above) album for The Fundamental Elements of Southtown for the first time in a few years. Not to be melodramatic, but it felt like finding an important piece of myself that I had almost lost.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Terra Verde: A Good Blog to Check Out If You Like Simplifying Your Life

Angela with her husband, Michael
My sister, Angela Brown, does it all. Not only is she a successful business owner, graphic designer and marketing consultant- she somehow finds the time to bake her own bread, knit and crochet, make candles, sew formal dresses and quilt the scrap material into beautiful blankets and wall hangings. She reads classic literature, listens to NPR and decorates her kitchen like a vintage bakery. She is an expert on Victorian era history, keeps an herb garden around her house and is an exceptional photographer. Yeah, she makes everyone else look bad... but we love her anyways.

She has a really great blog, Terra Verde Online. Her blog is split into the categories of Simple Living, Arts and Crafts, Good Reads, Favorite Things, Wellness, Simple Holidays, Food, Simply Fabulous People, 1000 Gifts, Victory Gardening and Business&Marketing. Her articles range from practical how-to's to motivational insights on the world.

She also has a bridal website, TerraVerde Bride which includes anything and everything a bride could need to know to have a simple, fun, low-stress wedding. I'm serious, you can go fire your wedding planner now- this blog has everything.

I'm not even being biased because she's my sister. I don't even like her. I just follow her blog.

Jokes, just jokes.

I love her very much and we get along just fine.

But, seriously- stop what you are doing and go check out her blog because I'm sure you will love it as much as I do.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Candle making day!

I've been having a lot of fun teaching myself how to make candles.
The process was pretty simple. Essentially, I just boiled  the wax down (I had to break the wax into small pieces and put it in jars, and then put the jars in a pot surrounded by boiling water, protected by a dishcloth in between the jar and the bottom of the pot) and then put a wick in the candle after the wax had cooled a bit. I dropped a few drops of Vanilla to give it scent, but I think I could have put more in.
Over all, it was pretty easy (Although super messy!) and I can't wait to make more.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Thank You Letter to My Mom/ Why Birth is Relevant to Me

Because of my mom's profession as a doula (A doula is a person who is trained to provide emotional and logistical support during the pregnancy, delivery or postpartum of a baby), my sister and I have been given a lot of knowledge about childbirth ever since I can remember. I knew about birthing postures and pregnancy exercises long before I was ever given "the talk". My mom also teaches natural childbirth classes, so models of pelvises and conversations about cervical dilation have always floated around our house. My mom was one of my main teachers growing up. Because I was home schooled more than I was in school, she was a huge influence in my education.

When I was sixteen, I asked my mom if I could go to midwifery conferences with her and attend births as a sort of an apprentice. Thankfully, I have the most awesome mom ever and she let me tag along. Since then, I have examined placentas, held hands during contractions and seen the most beautiful exchange of "first" meetings between the mother and the baby.

I have thought about becoming a doula or a midwife someday. I don't know if that will happen... but, at the same time, I feel that I could be a really great doula even if not as a profession. Wouldn't it be great if all women knew enough about birth to be a doula for their sisters, daughters and cousins?

My mom and I meeting Ina May Gaskin (world-renown midwife and childbirth professional) two years ago
I feel that this is an important part of my identity as a woman- even though I have not yet had a child. Additionally, this birthing community of doulas and midwives offers a lot of invaluable knowledge about female sexual health and protection. I feel that, as a woman, it is my right to know as much about my body as I can.

"We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong."
-Lara Stavoe Harm

I have very little fear about childbirth and am looking forward to the day when I am a mother; partly due to my awareness and partly due to the support I know I would have from my mom and sister.

So, if my mom is reading this-
Thank you.

PS My mom, Jody Milholland, is a Bradley certified natural childbirth teacher and twenty one year doula veteran in the birthing scene. Her website is

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'm finding less wonder in brick and mortar the more I look outside my own head

Things are calm in my life, and I like it.