The Traveling Lovers: A Musical Poem and Song Lyric Mash Up!

looking on

I went from Phoenix, Arizona all the way to Tacoma, Philadephia. Atlanta. LA.

Northern California where the girls are warm, so I could hear my sweet baby say.

“Gotta make a move to a town that’s right for me. Town to get me movin’, keep me grovin’ with some energy. Won’t you take me to Funky Town?”

So we hit the road Jack and we’re not coming back, no more no more no more.

And all the roads that lead us there are winding. And all the lights that light our way are blinding.

Moats and boats and waterfalls, alleyways and payphone calls. I’ve been everywhere with you.

I can remember the fourth of July runnin’ through the backwood bare.

And your smile so warm, and your cheeks so soft. There was nothing for me but to love you, and the way you looked that night.

So how far down do you want to go? We could talk it out over a cup of joe, and you can look deep in my eyes like I was a supermodel.

Baby you’re a song, you make me want to roll my windows down and cruise.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white. And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

We’ll all float on okay. Just fly me to the moon.

– A musical poem

*I take no ownership of any of these song lyrics. Here is a list of songs (in order). Did you guess them correctly??

Steve Miller Band – Keep on Rockin’ Me Baby / Lipps Inc. – Funky Town / Ray Charles – Hit the Road Jack / Oasis – Wonderwall / Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home / Credence Clearwater Revival – Born on the Bayou / Frank Sinatra – The Way You Look Tonight / The Refreshments – Banditos / Florida Georgia Line – Cruise / Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World  / Modest Mouse – Float On / Frank Sinatra – Fly Me to the Moon

Perhaps It Was the Water : 10 Unique Islands Around the World to Visit

perhaps it was the water

K. Noel Photography

The island life is one that so many people wish to experience. Every year thousands of people take flight to island destinations for relaxation and adventure. Many times when we think of an island vacation we think of Hawaii or other touristy hot spot. But maybe you are a little more adventurous and want to explore destinations a little less well-known. If so, this list is for you. Here are 10 islands you may not have thought of visiting, but after reading this you’ll definitely want to!

10. Dubai Palm Islands, United Arab Emirates / These are the world’s largest man-made islands and structured in the shape of palm trees located in the Persian Gulf. Yes, you read that right. Man-made islands . It’s an engineering feat to be admired and wondered at. And indeed the website claims it to be the 8th wonder of the world. The Atlantis Hotel is one of the main attractions on the island and should be noteworthy to know you are hundreds of feet out in the ocean on an island that wasn’t there before. But the real view is from up top. Click here for an aerial view.

9. Little Diomede Island, Alaska / Not to be confused with the Big Diomede Island (or Ratmanov Island) 2.5 miles away, which is part of Siberia, Russia. The islands are located in the Bering Straight and separated by country boarders as well as the International Date Line. Although they are only a few miles apart, there is a 20 hour time difference! Locals call them the Tomorrow Island and the Yesterday Island. Little Diomede is inhabited by Inuit Eskimo natives. Population is around 150.

8. Iceland / The country of Iceland is quickly becoming a popular destination. It might not have those warm and sunny beaches, but it has its fair share of surreal beauty. With views of the northern lights, volcano tours, and stunning geothermal waters there is an abundance of adventures to be had. Maybe even climb a glacier if you’re looking for a challenge!

7. The Galapagos Islands / Probably best known for the evolutionary studies of Charles Darwin in the 1800’s, these islands were made famous with the discovery of multiple species of animals and other natural life. If nature and science is your thing, this is mecca. The island is estimated to be 3-10 MILLION years old. Get a look at the world’s rarest animals, like the Galapagos Marine Iguana (the only lizard in the world that can swim in the ocean) and the Giant Galapagos Tortoise (which outlives most human lifespans). If you do visit, please note that this is a very fragile ecosystem and respecting the natural inhabitants of this world treasure is very important for the future of this island.

6. Madagascar / An island nation in the Indian ocean and the 4th largest island in the world is home to forests filled with lemurs, snorkeling adventures and beautiful views. There are many things to do on this island. One unique thing to visit is Akany Avoko, a home and center for 120 homeless children. Children are taught cooking and gardening skills. Public tours are given of the facilities and there is a café and craft store that raises money by selling the crafts that the kids make.

5. The Lofoten Islands, Norway / Located off the main land of Norway are the Lofoten Islands which are filled with fishing villages, classic Norway architecture, and stunning fjords which are narrow strips of water surrounded by steep sides of cliffs. Norway holds some of the world’s most picturesque places, so don’t forget your camera!

4. Hokkaido, Japan / While Japan itself is an island nation, Hokkaido is one of 4 main islands that comprises Japan. Hokkaido is the most rural of the 4 and the northern most island. So prepare for a colder climate. You’ll want to see the annual snow festival in the city of Sopporo, which features some amazing snow/ice sculptures. Or check out the city of Otaru and its gorgeous Canal District!

3. The Falkland Islands, Argentina / Although it is controlled by the United Kingdom, the Falkland Islands have been very diversely populated by settlers from France, Spain, Britain, and Argentina. It is technically under control by the British but Argentina still lays a controversial claim to these islands. Visitors will enjoy the wildlife and terrain. The ecosystem is a unique one, with highly flammable peat moss and an abundance of marine and bird species. Visit maritime and World War 1 memorials.

2. Papua New Guinea /  This place is filled with a vibrant and colorful culture. Check out their many festivals throughout the year, including the Crocodile Festival. To quote the Papua New Guinea Tourism site, “In Sepik culture men and crocodile share a special bond. The Crocodile symbolizes strength, power and manhood.” There are a plenty of water sports and tours you can take here, so surfers and snorkelers rejoice! Just watch out for those fresh and saltwater crocs.

1. Le Mont-St. Michel, Normandy, France / This island is one that will take your breath away. The man made road from mainland Normandy, France to the tiny island commune leads to the high walls and spires of a gigantic medieval castle! Famous for its high tidal variations, every couple times throughout the year the sea engulfs the road and the island becomes truly isolated again. The rich history of the castle and its inhabitants is attention-grabbing. According to the history of this castle, the Archangel Michel requested that the Bishop of Avranches build a small church here in the year 709. Through the years, many different structures where built as well. Anyone interested in history will adore this island.

Now, be well in your travels and find an adventure!

Live as a Wildflower, or Die as a Potted Plant: 5 Thoughts to Open Your Mind and Heart

For myself I hold no preferences among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous. Bricks to all greenhouses! Black thumb and cutworm to the potted plant! ~Edward Abbey

flower b&wK. Noel Photography

As humans, we want to explore and we want to grow! This can be achieved and mean something different to everyone. Everyone has their own idea of success and their own idea of what it means to be happy.

But “being happy” has become this ultimate achievement and then knocks us on our asses when we realize that we’re not. It’s because being happy is not the goal. Happiness comes and goes like every other emotion. The key is to become content. Contentment with your own range of emotions, your appearance of yourself and of those around you, and contentment with every aspect of your life.

Bliss is found in acceptance of self. Here are a few ideas that might open up your mind when it comes to the harder subjects of life.

1) Rejection sucks. There is no better way to say it. It does. Whether it’s a boyfriend/girlfriend, job, friend or other it can be hard to accept. We feel it as a personal attack on who we are. Open your mind! Realize that what others do to us is only a reflection of what they feel or want for themselves and try not to take things personally. See it as your freedom to finding what IS right for you. If you have to force acceptance from someone/something you are wasting your energy. It takes patient to get there, but don’t give up.

2) When it comes to love, nothing can be quite as bittersweet. Even if everything is going well it can be hard to balance who you are and who you are with them. No one can ever know you like you. I’ve had a boyfriend tell me that he knew me better than I knew myself. And I believed him…and then I lost myself and let him tell me who I was. So know that you control your own universe. And while we may be all essentially alone, having the right person by your side with a mutual respect for your own individualities can make that universe a little less lonely.

3) Forgiveness. When it’s the last thing on your mind, stop, and make it your first. It’s important to process your emotions and what you are feeling at that moment. But then quickly remember that you do not want to hang onto jealousy, rage, pain. Because if you hang on for too long, it becomes you. In the end other’s trespasses against us end up becoming our own trespasses against ourselves. When something is done to us that is perpetrated by another person that is the first wrong. When we relive that moment in our minds and emotions and let it control who we are that is of our own doing and we wrong ourselves. Forgiveness is a necessity for our own wellbeing.

4) Adventure is not just for the young. It is for the young at heart. We’ve all been stuck in a rut before and forgot that there is more to life than just work and when to pick the kids up from practice, to go and get the groceries, etc. We were not put on this planet for careers, for looking nice, or for the newest iPhone. We were put here to explore and to see how far we can push ourselves! So find, explore, do something! Push your own comfort zone, because if you don’t you’ll end up a potted plant depending on others to create your experiences.

5) Gratitude. It’s one of those things that can easily evade us in the worst of times. We need to be continually conscious of our own emotions and actions. If thoughts create action and action creates change remember to ask yourself “Is what I’m doing/thinking going to change this world for the better or worse?” Have you ever encountered a really rude or just negative person? Think of how that changed your own mood and then did you do anything worthwhile after that or did you just keep spreading negativity around? Now think of a time when someone did or said something nice to you. Was it easier to feel the intention to put something positive back into the world?

Our thoughts create who we are. Making the effort to appreciate what we have creates contentment. You can strive for bigger and better things (in fact don’t ever stop), but contentment can grow right along with it.

Empathy: Is It Even Still Alive In Southern California?

kindness

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Empathy is feeling and understanding another person’s emotions. It is being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and being able to emphasize with their situation.

Southern California is teeming with homeless men, women and children. It’s hard not to miss them standing on street corners asking for change. Then again, sometimes it’s easy to miss them. They are the invisible, or at least the ones we wish were invisible. Why is it so hard to look them in the eye when your car is stopped at a red light and they are holding their signs up saying “God bless”, “Anything helps”? It’s a societal guilt. We don’t want to look too closely because we might feel something we strive not to feel. A sort of sadness. THEIR sadness, THEIR desperation.

Our current mindset in this modern age is that being happy is the end-all be-all of goals. We read articles on the Top 10 Ways to “Be Happy”, numb ourselves with mindless television, and compulsively buy when we feel upset or bored. So when we see something that makes us uncomfortable, we turn away because it will interfere with the illusion of a continual happiness. This is especially true in California because of the high number of homeless.

But I’m here to inform you, empathy is not dead in Southern California. It is hidden and not always expressed publically, but it’s still here. While walking around in Long Beach, I stumbled upon a delivery boy talking with a homeless man in an alley way. He introduced himself as Robert and appeared to be making small talk. I snapped a picture and passed by. That’s all I saw. Just a glimmer of humanity in an alley. Just someone talking on the same level to another person. A simple act. There are so many organizations and 5k runs to end hunger and homelessness, but we don’t have to interact with “them”. We don’t have to look them in the eye and ask “how are you doing today?” It’s easier to dehumanize than to see them as our brother, sister, daughter, son.

Our society has seemingly put value in narcissism since we are able to post everything and only what we want others to perceive of us on the internet. If we show others that we are happy then maybe we will actually BE happy. Empathy for others does more for our personal happiness than we could ever dream. Being able to connect with another human being’s pain and suffering shifts our perspective away from our own problems and broadens our view of the world. People shy away from suffering because they are afraid that they will take on that other person’s pain. In actuality, by lifting their burden we lift our own.

Everyone has scars. If we can find a way to embrace those emotional scars and share that burden with others, we realize that we are not alone. We are never alone.

One of the most profound things I’ve realized since moving to California is that becoming homeless can happen to anyone out here. Even myself. The next profound thing I realized is that I have a wonderful support system to fall back on and am extremely lucky to live the life I live and know the people I know. Many homeless are mental ill with no support system or endured an extreme situation that landed them in their current position. Even the ones that got there with drugs or crime might have endured traumas in their life that turned into bad choices. Feel gratitude for your life and try not to judge so harshly another person’s experiences.

Find courage to show your empathy and know that this kindness converts directly to the happiness you seek. The more love you show the world the more you feel it for and in yourself.

Under the Trees: 5 Reasons Why Being In Nature Cures All Bad Days!

Mountain glory

“A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.” – Swami Sivananda
Now I had the luxury of growing up in Colorado where being in nature kind of just happens when you walk out your door. In California, it can be a bit different depending on where you are living. You might actually have to make an effort to find a little more greenery. But here are 5 reasons why you should make that effort!
1) It can relax your nerves and calm your spirit. Even a “city-slicker” can experience the frustrations of living in a city once in a while. If you truly open yourself up to what nature has to offer you can find an inner calm. Your auditory senses are given a little break from being turned on constantly to a different kind of smell, sound, and view.
2) Mountain activities like hiking, biking and skiing/snowboarding provide exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. Go with a group of friends or go by yourself, these activities work out your limbs in the best of ways! You won’t even realize how much you’re actually doing because of how much fun you’re having…until the next day of course when you’re too sore to get out of bed. If mountains aren’t your thing, get to the desert and ride a quad!
3) It puts things in perspective. Had a bad day? Work/ school got you down? Boyfriend or girlfriend driving you crazy? Step out into the great outdoors. Looking out into an incredible view can change your outlook on things. Not only is our world a massive place (although with social media it can feel like a small space at times), feeling ourselves in a physically larger space allows us to remember that we are just tiny creatures on a giant world floating in a colossal universe. When we are able to break free of our ever-shrinking technology-laden world, we remember that life is bigger than that fight we had with someone, or that work assignment we messed up on. Being in a larger space give us perspective.
4) We connect better with people in nature! This one might be obvious. But when there is no electrical outlets and the nearest cell tower is too far to get the best signal, we tend to put our phones and ipads down and focus on what is in front of us. When we focus on the people around us, we listen to them more and insert ourselves into the growth of a relationship.
5) Our self worth increases. When you put into play all of the above reasons we find that those little stressors and worries just don’t matter. When we feel good we do good for ourselves and others which creates a cycle of self worth.
So find your perfect spot on the mountain and live it up!

Under the Responsibility: Carrying the Weight of the Ocean

baby seal 2

There is no Sarah Mclachlan song playing here. No one telling you to donate to the cause. Just a genuine urging to keep our oceans alive and thriving with simple acts.

Donating money to a cause is admirable but there are also simpler and more probable ways most people will take action. And people feel astoundingly better and more certain by having a hands-on effect on something.

Here are a few of those simple things:

  •  If you see a sick seal, whale, bird or other sea animal you can call a local Marine Animal Rescue Center. These animals are usually alone, sluggish, and (in the case of seals) will have patchy fur and wrinkled skin from hunger.

Depending on where you are in California, you can google Marine Animal Rescue Centers and find them throughout the state. If you are in Orange County/Los Angeles area call the Pacific Marine Animal Center at 949-494-3050 or Marine Animal Rescue at 310-455-2729.

There has been an influx of sick baby seals on the Southern California shores that has overwhelmed non-profit animal rescues for years. Scientists are still trying to figure out why so many seals are going hungry and then isolating themselves on our shores. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure it out. Overfishing in our seas is having tremendous consequences on sea life.

  • Tie up and seal your food that you bring to the beach to prevent seagull attacks!

Now this may seem cute and funny when you see it, but it’s actually neither. Our food is barely good enough for us, let alone a wild animal. A bird does not digest the same way we do and this causes problems for them whether you choose to turn a blind eye or not. These animals become dependent on us for their next unnourishing meal. So just remember to watch your food and seal it up!

  • If you see glass or trash on the beach, take a second to pick it up and walk the 100-200 yards to the trash cans provided on the beach.

There are usually trashcans near the boardwalks. 2 minutes of your time saves the year or more of floating that piece of trash does in our ocean. Not to mention, no one likes stepping on glass! If you are visiting from out of state, this does not exempt you from caring because you can leave and forget it. Just remember everything comes back around. It’s a cycle of nature that effects everything and everyone.

If you would like to volunteer to clean up our beaches, visit the California Coastal Commission for their California Coastal Clean Up Day Saturday, September 19, 2015.

So, simple right?! These are just a minimum of things we can do to help out with very little effort. Think about what the ocean has given you. Food, beautiful and inspiring scenery, maybe a fun weekend or vacation. Give back to the ocean and the creatures in it! Even if it’s not monetary, we all can give back in a small way.

Under the Palms

Under the Palm

K. Noel Photography

I REGRET OFTEN THAT I HAVE SPOKEN, NEVER THAT I HAVE BEEN SILENT.

-Syrus

  Silence is one of those powerful moments that can channel so much meaning to a given situation. It can be used to pass judgment, permeate wisdom, show cowardice or bravery, or convey a powerful message of understanding.

  No matter where you live, being in a modern lifestyle can sometimes make it difficult to find that moment of silence.

  In Southern California, the moment can be found on days when you look up at the palm trees and for a brief moment the only sound you hear is the wind rustling the leaves. Or finding yourself alone in a coffee shop listening only to the clinks of dishes being washed in the back. Those are the moments that come and go so quickly you almost forget to appreciate it in such a loud city.

  It’s those little things that people don’t pay much mind to that help us appreciate living this California lifestyle. It’s what tourists and visitors are looking for when they come out here…that moment their minds become silent and all they hear is the rustling of a palm tree or the crash of a wave.

We just have to remember to take that moment and know it is just as important as the sounds of city life.

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Under the Pier

“My life is like a stroll on the beach… as near to the edge as I can go.”
-Thoreau


    When I first moved to California, I really did not expect the dreamy, fast-paced, frustrating, beautiful and curious way of life here.
    Sometimes there are days when the soul-sucking traffic makes me want to pull my hair out! Other times the ten minute trip to the beach on a sunny 75 degree day in January watching surfers and children makes me never want to look away. California is a place that takes and gives equally.
    I would like to see it for what it is. In all it’s grunge and glory.
    These pictures express just a small fraction of a Southern California life.