summer living

07.16.2015

observant nomad | summer living

You might be curious where I’ve been these last couple months. And what can I say? It’s been a while since we’ve had a little check-in with what’s going on in my neck of the woods.

So I thought, let’s put together a little recap of what I’ve been up to lately this summer.

observant nomad | summer living

Last time we chatted I was moving into a new house with my guy (eeek!) and what can I say? It’s been harder than I imagined! We both knew it was going to involve some changes, compromises, and challenge us, but I’m not going to lie, it’s been a tad difficult. We’re doing the normal expected things like trying to get used to each other’s little idiosyncrasies and rhythms. But layering that with our shared stubbornness and independent personalities – it’s been a ride.

During all this we’ve also been working hard on projects for the house. Planning decor DIYs, figuring out how to organize the home, and fill the space in a thoughtful but not cluttered way. But now that we’ve had our housewarming party, there’s a layer of stress that’s been lifted. We seem much more settled and less focused on working on projects every night. Which has done wonders for our moods and things are balancing out.

Now we can each enjoy our own nighttime rituals and social lives without worry. We’ve also started a standing date night on Fridays. We take turns planning them, which is a great way to feel connected and create meaningful habits into what has been a big change.

observant nomad | summer living

In an effort to balance the stress and effort we’ve been putting into our home, we’ve also gone on a couple camping trips so far. Early in the summer we went on a little impromptu off-road trip near Nederlands, CO. We ended up doing some fishing, camping off of a backpacking trail, and visited a local mountain brewery.

For the Fourth of July though, we made a big trip up to Grand Lake near Granby, CO. We have a secret camping spot high above the town and surrounding areas that we really loved. It was the perfect view and we were even able to see about four different firework shows from up there! It was sort of crazy awesome.

We spent our days sipping spiked tea + lemonade, listening to country music, playing yard games, and we even whipped together a traditional shrimp boil – which was delicious and so flavorful. We took one day to walk around Grand Lake and sample the local shops, bars, and food.

While we were there, I knew we had to try paddle-boarding. No classes required, we simply rented a couple boards and slowly paddled around the lake and inlets. Sometimes we dangled our feet into the cold water and laid on our backs soaking in the warm sun. I had so much fun that now I really want to get one of my own. I found it a nice leisurely lake activity, and I can see why people love it so much.

observant nomad | summer living

When we were back in the city, I made sure to find ways to really squeeze the most out of the season and enjoy our new neighborhood. This summer I bought a Denver Passport which is a little booklet that allows you to grab 2-for-1 drinks all over Denver at the newest hot spots. Denver’s culinary scene has been exploding for the last couple of years, so it’s been a really cool way to try new places, or visit the places we’ve always wanted to go.

I’ve also signed up for theDoor to Door Organics bi-weekly box and I am loving the influx of fresh produce and fruit. We’ve gotten all kinds of delicious things like juicy watermelon, soft apricots, fresh squash, and crisp bushels of kale. It’s forcing us to eat a lot more healthy dishes and even challenges me to find new recipes and ideas for it. I’m pretty excited to keep going through the winter months when it’s tougher to eat well.

observant nomad | summer living

A few other things that have developed this summer include getting back to some of my past creative and mindful practices. With moving into the new house, there’s been enough space for me to develop an at home studio! It’s been a pretty exciting opportunity – but one I haven’t really put a ton of energy or focus into. The room has sat kind of in disarray and been a bit purposeless. At the time I had every intention of creating an at-home office where I could work on freelance clients and other creative projects, but as I mentioned, there have been some changes to my work so that had to take a pause.

Now that everything is a little clearer – I have different ideas for the space. I really want to turn it into a place for play. A place for exploration, experimentation, and creative challenges. A place to try new photography, styling, design. And get back to my original creative loves – painting, drawing, and art. I even did a quick abstract painting a couple weekends ago to fill my guest bedroom.

After the housewarming party, I knew I wanted to re-focus on being healthy and active again. So I’ve slowly started to build momentum towards renewing my yoga practice and trying to slowly work my way back into healthy habits.

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Well, that pretty much sums it all up. Now that I look back, this summer has been quite nice. Full of change, challenges, growth and new opportunities. I feel like it’s right on the cusp of coming to fruition, which I’m a bit anxious for. These last couple months have felt a little like hibernating or watching events in and around my life play out. Now I’m ready to step back into a more active role and make things happen. From creative challenges, to personal goals, I’m feeling like things are slowly coming together and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

all photos by observantnomad. follow me on instagram to see life unfold in real time.

 

 

Shifting Energy

07.14.2015

observant nomad | yes

Where do I even begin?! You might have noticed I haven’t written anything in this space for quite some time.

I don’t really have a deliberate reason. It was just something that organically occurred once I got back from Moab in June. Everyday after Moab came and went I had every intention of writing a new post. I had all kinds of content planned, ideas to share, thoughts and events to talk about, but I couldn’t find it in myself to sit down and start the next draft.

Instead I found myself making plans for the new house, sketching decor ideas, planning our housewarming party, and throwing myself into new opportunities at work (more on that later).

So when I couldn’t reconcile the nagging feeling I was having about my lack of interest in posting, I chatted with my biggest creative cheerleader – mom.

She totally gets that I’m a free-spirit, and that usually entails a waning attention to many of my creative expressions, or a sudden change in mind when it comes to my life and it’s direction. So when I mentioned to her that I was finding it difficult to feel inspired by the blog, or blogging in general, she simply smiled and nodded her head.

She told me it was natural to feel our energies shift and change. It didn’t mean I would give it up all together, it just meant that there were other areas of my life that needed my energy for the time being. Oh yea, all kinds of hippie dippy stuff. I love it.

Once she explained this energy theory though, it made complete sense.

Other aspects of my life; like moving in with my guy, changes in work loads, and focusing on enjoying the summer, has moved my energy into those areas of my life. What solidified what she was saying for me was that I truly felt no guilt, concern, or worry about shifting my attention to different areas of my life.

For what has been literally years, I’ve spent pretty much all my attention on my work. From making sure I was succeeding at my 9-5 to taking on too much freelance work, I’ve always put work first. For the longest time I’ve had the luxury of living alone and a taxing lifestyle that comes with agency life. So sacrificing a few more hours never felt that difficult. I never felt guilty giving up Saturdays with friends to work on my personal clients. At the time, it was what made the most sense. It was where I was suppose to invest my energy.

But I think with the shifts in my life lately (moving in with the guy, making travel plans, and changes in my job) has forced my energy to refocus. And for the last couple months my energy has been elsewhere. Not here, not in the blog. I’m sorry for that, but it has been what was right for me.

With that said, now that I’ve taken some time away to focus on other places, it’s given me a new sense of clarity and purpose with the blog. I feel ready to come back but in new and different ways. Ways that bring me more excitement than it has in some time.

Can’t wait to get back to documenting my life here and exploring all of my creative passions in different ways.

 

RZR Racing in the Desert

06.02.2015

/ rzr racing in moab / observant nomad

The second half of our trip to Moab was full of thrill-seeking highs and lows. After our first couple of days we knew that we still had a lot to fit into the rest of our trip. So the next morning we immediately filled up on a tasty breakfast at the Eklecticafe and made plans on how to tackle everything we wanted to do.

The weather that morning was honestly, pretty crappy. Drizzling rain and freezing temps… odd doesn’t begin to describe the unusual behavior of the Moab desert that weekend (you’ll see why later). So we postponed a planned meet up with some of Rusty’s friends in hope that by the afternoon the weather would clear up and we could enjoy off-roading together a bit more.

Visiting Arches National Park sounded like a better plan since we didn’t have to get out of the car a bunch if we didn’t want to. So we headed into the park and drove through cloudy skies and lovely richly dark red rocks which had been soaked with rain the night before.

/ park avenue moab / observant nomad

/ rzr racing in moab / observant nomad

/ arches national park moab / observant nomad

First we stopped at the Park Avenue formation and then at Double Arch since they were both a quick jaunt from the car. When we arrived into the first pull-off, the sun started to peek out and the temps slowly rose to a mild warmth, making the view of the arches unforgettable and enjoyable enough to climb into. And yes, we did climb into them.

I never visited Double Arch the fist time I came to Moab, and honestly it was my favorite arch of this trip. The views of the actual rock face were spectacular. And laying with your back against the course rock gazing up at this immense natural formation was breathtaking.

/ double arches in moab / observant nomad

/ double arch moab / observant nomad

/ rzr racing in moab / observant nomad

As the weather got better, we decided to make one last hike to the top of Delicate Arch. Due to the steepness and for those who maybe don’t like heights, the hike to the top is a bit difficult. But really anyone (and everyone) makes it to the top with little difficulty.

It was a bit scary watching people climb all over the actual arch, not sure why but instinctually it makes my stomach do flips. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing I can do to stop someone or save someone from getting hurt up there. But if you get a moment of pause in between anxiety, this arch is probably one of the most beautiful views of the entire park.

I highly suggest going at sunrise or even a sunset. While both times attract a lot of people as well, they usually stay away from climbing all over the arch since there’s a lot of professional photographers telling them to!

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slowing summer

05.29.2015

/ slow down / observant nomad

I think it’s something that all ambitious creatives face. The endless momentum of peering ahead to our next destination. We’re continuously looking for what we need to change, evolve, shift or improve on. Which is what makes us so awesome at what we do. We take on more and more, pushing ourselves harder to live up to some kind of superhero type of persona. But the side-affect is that sometimes it’s feels nearly impossible to really focus our attention on the moment at hand.

Ever since the move my world has felt more topsy turvy than ever before. Right now, I live in an utter mess of a house. Objects and boxes are piled in corners and they slowly move from one corner to another in hopes that somehow it will go somewhere permanent soon. But as if moving wasn’t stressful enough, let’s throw some long days at work and leaving in the middle of it for Moab on top of it all! I forgot how traveling adds a whole other dimension to the craze.

And even though I say that, my trip to Moab (while maybe poorly timed) reminded me of a feeling I had lost for some time.

It all came rushing back to me in the very middle of our decent down Schafer trail. The sky was a clear bright blue, the clouds dangled low, sprinkling into view. The vast sides of the canyon walls raised up above us. The calming silence of our breathing and the small hum of the motor joined us. There wasn’t a sound outside the car. Not a bird cackling, a wild animal calling, or even the sound of wind. Nothing.

In that moment I had a similar feeling to what I experienced in Spain several years ago. The deep understanding of absolute singularity. Nothing existed outside that moment, no deadlines, no clients, no bills, no meetings, no should-do’s or need-tos. Not even the other people in the car. Just me and that moment.

It was a feeling that gave my soul the permission to slow down. It told me to stop and take note of the world around me, and ask myself, what did I really want my world to look like everyday? Did I really want to carry around the weighty sensation of continuously looking forward all the time? Was I ok with stopping and asking myself, why was I working so hard with what felt like very little reward?

Shifting focus to the present

For a long time I’ve been putting my nose to the grind. Working long hours at the agency, giving 110% to my team and finding every way I could improve the work for our clients. Piled that on top of my side hustle, where I bring the same dedication and thought to my personal clients, you can guess living this way have never been easy. But what I realized deep down, is that even though I love what I do, the way it affects every other area of my life isn’t bringing me true happiness.

I want to love the work I do every single second I do it, and not resent it from letting me live a full life. Sometimes that means allowing yourself room to let the joy in. Instead of having my eyes down 24/7, it’s equally important for me to also look up every once in a while and take measure of where I am at, how my work feels, and where I can infuse more joy into it.

What does that mean? Well all it means is that I’m starting to make changes in my day-to-day. I’m actively creating time for myself to focus on the present more than just what’s coming next. Like investing in practicing my artwork again (like the hand lettering you see), decorating my home, and enjoying a slower pace to life. I guess you could call it a start to what I’m officially marking my slow summer.

Being selective to be effective

It also means I’m going to force myself to say “no” more often. First of all, I’m so thankful I’m even in a place where I can be selective about my work, because I know it won’t (and hasn’t) always been like that. All it does mean is that I need to be more mindful and selective about what I work on. That not only involves saying no, but also means asking some hard questions to figure out what’s right for me, my brand, and what I find truly exciting to work on.

Thoughtful steps towards smaller goals

For my whole life I’ve always been a lofty goal kind of person. I tend to focus more on the mountain top than the summit still ahead of me. But after listening to the latest Being Boss podcast featuring one of my personal favs, Charlene Johnson, I knew that I might be going about this whole “goal” thing the wrong way.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a big dreamer! But I find myself building goals to the point where they become too large to tackle. Eventually they end up bringing more anxiety, than optimism. So when I heard Charlene Johnson break down goals into 10 specific areas of your life, I had to give it a try. And I recommend you do too.

What I discovered was that I wanted to improve a lot of things. Which in one way could mean that I am kind of dissatisfied with a lot. And honestly, that’s not unfortunate to me, it’s actually exciting. It’s beyond liberating to be honest with myself and admit that what I’m doing, isn’t working.

Now that I’ve recognized what I need to evolve, I’m more excited than ever to start working on my goals. Instead of obsessing over the large goal ahead of me, I can focus on the moment and work steadily and deliberately towards my plans. That means more energy into the present and creating time to reflect on where I am right now, in this moment, on my journey.

So this summer, it’s time to pause, take a moment, and breathe.

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lettering by observant nomad studio / photograph from death to stock photo

 

canyonlands

05.21.2015

observant nomad / canyonlands / moab, utah

As you might know, this last month has been pretty heavy. Moving, working a ton at my day job, balancing a side-hustle, and getting settled in with the guy. Sometimes you just have to get away from it all, and man, have I felt that way lately. So when our pending trip to Moab was approaching I was more than ready to get out of town and enjoy some time away from the grind.

Ever since our last trip we knew we always wanted to return to Moab. The imposing arches, the colorful desert, the ever-expansive sky. Everything about the stark beauty of the area just took our breath away. So a few months ago, when we decided to take another trip to Moab and knew right away we wanted to invite some close friends, Rachel and Jeff, to experience it for themselves.

We hit the road early in the morning last Thursday, and arrived in town during the early afternoon. Once in town, we stopped for a late lunch at Moab Brewery to enjoy our first vacation beer and some filling sandwiches. Afterwards, we drove a little further down the road and checked into our adorable Moab KOA cabin, and then set out for our first off-roading trail of the weekend–Fins n’ Things.

observant nomad / canyonlands / moab, utah

observant nomad / canyonlands / moab, utah

After riding our adrenaline rush home, we spent the rest of the night getting settled into our surroundings. Our first evening back at camp was a simply perfect night. We grilled elk brats, drenched them in toppings, and gathered around the table over some beers.

Later that evening some of Rus’s friends, who were also in town, stopped by after dinner for some drinks. We laughed way too hard, sipped smokey scotch, and had some pretty memorable times playing charades and card games.

observant nomad / moab koa / moab, utah

observant nomad / canyonlands moab koa / moab, utah

After spending way too long trying to find the perfect camping spot on our last trip, we knew that this time, we had to avoid that with a larger group.

So we rented the cutest little cabin through Moab KOA for pretty cheap. And even though we did see a few open camping spots this time, I’m really happy we rented the cabin. We had our own grill, picnic table, porch swing, and we were even able to take semi-hot showers, and relax after long days in the dust and rain.

observant nomad / canyonlands moab koa / moab, utah

The next morning we scarfed down a delicious southwestern breakfast at Jailhouse Cafe and set out on the road. Rus had picked out our next off-roading trail, so we headed in that direction. But as always, when exploring a new place, we made a couple pit stops at some of the viewpoints and formations in the area.

And somehow on our way to the trail we went a little too far and missed the turnoff sign. But, of course, in the most serendipitous way it worked out for the best! We ended up driving the extra few miles to Canyonlands National Park.

observant nomad / canyonlands / moab, utah

observant nomad | canyonlands moab

Even though the weather was a bit temperamental (rain? In Moab?!) we actually found it be a small blessing. I have never seen the rocks so red, and the desert grass so green and tall. While it was cloudy most days, the sun would peak in and out a bit to brighten up the sky. But man, those rainy clouds were absolutely gorgeous. And sleeping to the pitter patter sound of rain on the desert sand was pretty wonderful.

observant nomad | canyonlands moab

After entering Canyonlands we were immediately faced with some of the highest views of the national park we could imagine. With names like Grand View Point and Mesa Arch, I knew these arches and vantage points were going to be spectacular. And as you can see, they were.

What I love most about unplanned adventures like this, are the nice little surprises where you get to explore a new place or visit an unexpected location. Normally I’m not a super spontaneous person, but when I turn on my adventure dial, I became a much more free-spirited person who finds joy in the smallest moments of change and uncharted roads. Which is exactly what we did on our way out of Canyonlands.

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