Witness the Small Life – The Mini Apple

This week’s page is dedicated to be a glimpse into my life while being home in the greatest city in the world: Minneapolis! I’ve been catching up on all my favorite things to do that I haven’t been able to in Ann Arbor (sit at the lake, drive a car, relax, etc.) and it’s been a splendid week indeed.

As the first person of my friends home for the summer, I’ve spent much time basking in the freedom of being alone. My relationship with being alone has changed so much this past year and it’s been very evident in how I’ve been spending my past week. In my senior year of high school, my greatest fear was being alone at any given time. I worried that because I’d be moving by the end of that summer and losing proximity to my friends and family that I would then end up being alone forever. However, throughout my time during this first year of college I’ve had to confront that fear head on every day in an unfamiliar place surrounded by strangers. It was extremely hard at first and I’m still adjusting to these new changes in my life, but after a while I felt more and more at peace with myself. I started to learn how to take care of myself outside the pressures of my surrounding social circles. I no longer had to worry about driving my sisters to school or rearranging my work schedule so I could make it to the next hangout with friends. During my day all I had to do was decide on where I was going to study today or if I wanted to go explore a random event posted on a flyer. This past week I’ve been able to apply this college-sparked freewill in my adventures of the city streets and it’s been allowing me to appreciate my home in new lights. From vibrant inspiration for my next art pieces to a new loving familiarity for the communities I grew up in, I feel like I’m entering a new journey of understanding what home is in a place where I feel safe and loved. Although I am surely going to fill this summer to the brim with bonfires with friends and excursions with my sisters, I’m planning on making sure that I get my alone time with myself and my city in order to appreciate both in new and beautiful ways.

To take into our summer:

Ins: Reconnecting with old friends, supporting your local art scene (always), horror podcasts, going to events even if you’re going alone, drawing on your hands, Costco, re-appreciating your old art, quality time with loved ones.

Outs: Not wearing sunscreen, only believing in the worst outcomes, flat soda, letting dust pile up, immaturity, bugs on the windshield, drivers in Minneapolis, not speaking your truth, the ending of Grey’s Anatomy season 5.

Have a beautiful, fantastic summer everyone! Thank you so much for a great semester and for reading (and hopefully enjoying) these entries. Trust that I’ll be back in the fall for our regularly scheduled shenanigans of loving life and each other. Be safe, have fun, and remember to witness the small life!

Witness the Small Life – Long Journey Home

I’M FREE!!! Classes done, critiques finished, dorm packed! Boy, what a semester it has been. A true rollercoaster of epic proportion with all the excitement a girl can handle on a day to day basis.

Firstly, I need to address my mistakes! My burnout brain was apparently so fried that I actually wrote the wrong date for last week’s post! I truly didn’t know what day it was (the prophecies fulfill themselves). Additionally, apologies for the late post! Between getting ready for moving out, actually moving out, and driving 11+ hours, there was a minuscule amount of time to get anything else done. Regardless, we are here! In my chaos of packing up my life into my blue storage bags, there’s been so much happening. From temporary goodbyes to friends to the difficult task of deciding whether or not to keep my various knickknacks or pass them off to others, I’ve been reminded of the multitude of ways we connect ourselves to the world. People, places, things, and memories all make up the different facets of what makes home home. Throughout my journey of intense homesickness and deep fear of change this past year, my relationship to each of these things in my life has shifted and transformed in ways that have been both gratifying and heart-breaking. There’s a duality to growing up and so much of that comes with how our relationship to home metamorphosizes. I feel like there’s never truly an end to this journey of change and that fact scares me while at the same time sparks a flame of excitement in my soul. Although we as people change throughout our lives and the spaces we inhabit will do the same, it helps to remember that there will always be love and support through the challenges of it all, even if it doesn’t feel like it. I find that as people we want to see the best for others, even if they’re just strangers, because we want to see and believe in the compassion and beauty of the world. People change and homes get moved but the existence of love always stays the same.

To take into our next week:

Ins: Limes, the smell of bug spray, remembering to take breaks instead of just giving up, being the early bird that gets the worm, biking, daydreaming on roadtrips.

Outs: Hoarding to the extreme, letting the paranoia get to you, forgetting to patch up holes, taking on more than you can handle, caramel in coffee, not putting recycling in the recycling, cheap perfume.

This is my second to last post for the semester! To everyone wrapping up their semesters, planning their summers, and taking a second to breathe you all are amazing! Remember that even though life throws a bajillion crazy things our way, we will always be there for each other.

Witness the Small Life – Hydration Station

To burn out or not to burn out, that is the struggle! I feel like I’ve been straddling the line between hyper-extreme productivity and rotting-in-bed exhaustion for far too long and this battle has only continued its siege on my life! From forgetting the days of the week to leaving behind entire artworks in classrooms, my life has been a mess of unrelenting chaos.

In addition to the constant threat of my near-death, there’s been too many a small things piling up this week for me, both good and bad. Little chores and errands I have to run that I constantly forget about and decide to do all at once which, of course, forces me to dedicate an entire day to finish them all. Fleeting moments of catching people’s exciting conversations as I walk past them on State Street and feeling happy to have been able to share in their musings for just a second. Although these small things do in fact add to my increasing stress and awareness about everything around me, they also help to remind myself that it’s okay to just exist one second at a time. It’s a cheesy thing to say, as most everything is, but it truly is so important to live in the moment when you can. When we move so fast and the world needs you to do everything everywhere all at once, it can become so impossible to take care of yourself. By allowing yourself to just focus on the small necessities in your life, like needing mend a tear in your pants or needing to take out the trash, it helps so much in the long run of managing your stress. It’s a difficult thing to remind myself of this fact even though I preach it so much, but I do stand by its importance in living a good life.

To take into our next week:

Ins: A robust sticker collection, student film festivals, taking things one step at a time, mosh pits (always), outdoor music, the first 8 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, mixed metal jewelry, being able to let go.

Outs: Doomscrolling too early in the morning, cold feet (literally and idiomatically), playing stupid games and winning stupid prizes, not scheduling in time to eat, worrying too much about a future too far away, sleeping with wet hair.

I keep saying that we’re in the homestretch, but this time it’s really true! Many of us (including myself) will be finishing up finals and heading back home for the summer in these next few weeks so here’s to us and all of our hard work! May we all have a happy and healthy end of the semester (and don’t burn out too much!)

Witness the Small Life – Fooling & Folking Around

Carpe Diem!

I truly believe that sunshine and fresh air will heal most anything. Stressed about an upcoming project? Go sit outside for a little! Worried about the end of the school year? Open that window and breathe in! Filled with an inescapable dread about the fate of the world as we know it? Set up your hammock and take a nap! (and also reach out to your support systems and get that help you deserve!) Not only does a beautiful day help the mind, body, and soul recuperate from a tough week, it’s also really heartwarming to see everyone out on the Diag on blankets and in hammocks spending time together after being cooped up for so long this past winter.

Sierra Ferrell’s new album, Trail of Flowers, has been exclusively on repeat in my headphones this past week. She’s been a favorite artist of mine for a while but she has been my absolute everything lately. Over the course of the past few years I’ve been reawakening my love for folk and bluegrass music and this album has only just fueled those flames. There’s many a person out there that denounces everything country (I used to be one of them yikes!) but I feel like wider society’s perception of country music is extremely limiting to just the honky-tonking Big Green Tractors of the world. (And if you like that song, all the more power to you! I’m over the gatekeeping and demeaning nature of pretentious music communities.) But I feel like once you find a song or two or maybe even a musician within the wider realm of country music, your entire perspective can change. There’s so much to the genre and the ones that exist within and alongside it! Every decade of country/folk/bluegrass since the mid 20th century carries their own certain flair and styles so there’s bound to be something out there that clicks with a certain part of your taste. For me, folk music feels like the singer is speaking directly to the thoughts and feelings within me that I can never put into words. There’s a certain melding of the emotions of the lyrics, vocals, and instrumentals that touches a certain part of my soul that can’t be replicated anywhere else and that’s why I love it so much. Trail of Flowers is another testament to this beautiful relationship I feel when listening to folk music so if you haven’t listened to it yet, you better get on that!

Also, if you ever need some great folk music to listen to and don’t know where to start, tune into WCBN’s very own folk specialty show Just Folkin’ Around every Saturday at 9am! There’s a great rotation of hosts every week (including me!) and we love to highlight our collection of folk, country, singer-songwriter, and bluegrass music in the station!

In other words of music and musicians, I promised a shout out to my favorite Jazz Drum major of UW-Madison, a certain Francis Randall! If you’re interested in the inner machinations of the future generation of jazz drumming in Madison, WI, I’d highly recommend giving a follow to uw.jazz.drums.studio on Instagram. Although their posts could be deemed “strange” and highly-unrelated to jazz drumming, they’re still very entertaining (in my opinion!). And as Sebastian so astutely says about jazz in La La Land: “It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s just…it’s new every time. It’s brand new every night. It’s very, very exciting! And it’s dying. It’s dying, Mia. It’s dying on the vine. And the world says, ‘Let it die. It had its time.’ Well, not on my watch.”

To take into our next week:

Ins: Impractical skirts, basking in the sun (always), hot pink nail polish, being especially talkative, allowing yourself to cry at silly things, the smell of sunscreen, unashamedly listening to really great musical soundtracks.

Outs: Birds chirping at 3am, forgetting hair ties at the exact moment you need them, self-isolating, wearing wrinkled clothes, not treating yourself with kindness, forgetting to patch up your favorite pair of shoes.

Remember to take a break from the whirlwind of finals and spend some time outside! It isn’t everyday we get this beautiful sunshine in the craziness of Michigan weather, so let’s seize those days!

Witness the Small Life – R&R

We are back! I had to take a small break last week due to a huge array of big things happening in my life, but this week I was able to rest, relax, and resume my appreciation for the little things. No matter how the past week or two or three have been treating you, I hope you’re able to stop and smell those roses along your path through it all.

Like I said, this week has been all about resetting and recuperation. From doing every Monday crossword in the NYT archive to indulging in some No Thai here and there, I’ve been working hard to keep spirits up as I’ve been working hard. Second semester is no joke!

Something important that I’ve truly realized during all of these rituals and routines is the importance of trusting your future self. During a phone call the other week I had someone tell me to allow my present self to trust my future self. At the time of this call I was so stressed and anxious for my future. I had signed a lease for the first time, I had decided the minor I wanted to pursue, and it all felt like my world was spinning at too fast of a speed. I was worried I was making all the wrong choices and that I would end up a failure to myself and others. The person I was talking to, however, reminded me that if I’ve made it here already with all the things I’ve been able to do and the joy I’ve been able to have that goes to show that my future self has been making the right decisions. It’s important to recognize that whatever you’re doing in the moment is what is best for you right then. We live life moment by moment, not year by year. To have trust in your future self allows your present self to take care of what you need right now. Although it’s hard to not worry about tomorrow or next month or next year even, it’s helped me a lot to remember that my future self will take care of me because my present self already is.

To take into our next week:

Ins: Journaling in every form possible (drawing, writing, recording, etc.), calling long distance friends every day, silly graffiti, Sierra Ferrell my beloved, slightly-stale Haribo gummy bears, laying in the grass.

Outs: Complaining for the sake of complaining, not having any shorts to wear, bottling up every single thought you have, feeling like you need to have an answer to everything, laying in bed until noon, hating the future when it hasn’t even happened yet.

Here’s to our wonderful weather from this past weekend and to good health and happiness in surviving the end of the semester!

Witness the Small Life – Bird Brained

Oh what bundles of joy we were this past week! Maybe joy is thinking too positively, but bundles yes we were. COLD!! With a capital C-O-L-D is all I, and the rest of Ann Arbor, felt all day every day. Some glimpses of the sun poked through here and there, thankfully, but I almost gave into excavating my winter jacket from the depths of storage. No dice, however! I couldn’t do it in fear of manifesting even MORE snow than we already had.

This week, I was all ears! A fun fact about me is that I way too often listen to YouTube video essays on my commutes across campus. This is due to falling in and out of listening to music hardcore and thoroughly, mostly because I suffer intensely from favorite song burnout. This week, though, I’ve felt a huge draw back to my tune-bumping roots. Because of this, I came to realize how 3 of my favorite artists (as above) all have bird-related names. As an angsty tweenager, I felt extremely drawn to birds, all colors and kinds, as a symbol in my artwork. Visual symbolism is my JAM (no pun intended). They represented the worldly freedom of mind and body so I longed to have as a kid cooped up with her younger sisters much of the time. In my musical realizations this week, I’ve been able to reconnect with that version of myself and reflect on where I was then and where I am now. I have so much freedom to explore, learn, and create now while here in college and I am so thankful for that everyday. I wish I could show my younger self this adventure we’re on and to tell her to slow down her internal rebellion and enjoy the world as it was back then. Although I can’t time-travel and break all laws of science, I hope the pieces of her that are still in me have been able to appreciate all of the craziness and joy we’re experiencing in our new freedom together.

TL;DR: Listen to music, indulge your inner child, and appreciate the birds in our lives. We all need love for ourselves in all versions, forms, and ages we exist in.

To take us into our next week:

Ins: Choppy layers, the Hex Girls (always!), tasteful caricature drawings, wolf t-shirts, gossiping in UMMA, the color amber, a healthy ratio of normal socks to crazy socks.

Outs: Ice cream when Mojo is freezing, not cleaning your water bottle (do it!), a rigid 5 year plan, letting your jealousy fester, a bedtime of 2am.

A very cold, but happy Spring Equinox and here’s to all the birds frolicking amongst the snow and playing wonderful songs across our eternal pathways.