Sometimes it’s hard to commit to buying art. I’m sure I have made plenty of excuses, particularly that art can be expensive. I want to propose some ideas about why buying art is good for you and your community and why you should make a habit of buying it.
Art is excellent for placing color on a white wall without upsetting your landlord. We aren’t meant to live within a world of walls, but if we must be confined to a box, we might as well make it beautiful. Putting art up on your wall contributes to the Feng Shui of a room. It creates ambiance in a space meant to entertain guests and will help them feel comfortable and welcomed. It sparks conversation, unique thoughts, ideas, or concepts. Art can provoke meditation, deep thinking, and inner healing. Art is an excellent form of self-expression, giving your peers an insight into your style, personality, dreams, and fears. Art can remind you of something you are trying to put into your practice or take out of your routine.
You can find art that resonates with you by attending local events. All types of themes attract artists and entertainers who gather at festivals as well as fairs. If you have a niche you’re dying to scratch, search for the nearest festival that caters to that niche. If there isn’t one, try something similar to it, and you will come to recognize people at the event who also relate to your niche. You can also turn to Instagram and social media to find artists that produce what you’re looking for.
But you’re a starving artist or don’t have the money to spend. This is no excuse. Buy art you can afford, prints are a great alternative! Get something small or settle with an artist that may not be your absolute favorite. When you buy art, you learn about the process. You have a product to critique, admire, to share with the people you love. Only good things come from buying art. Even better, the more art you purchase and the more of a collection you acquire, the more you expand your mind, provoke conversation, support your community, engage in imagination, and gain an inner fulfillment that people who do not buy art will never understand.
Millennials (1981-95, that’s me!) grew up with parents, Baby Boomers (1946-64), who came from families from the Silent Generation (1928-45) where marriage was a lifelong bond and until the no-fault divorce law came to be in 1969, they needed a reason to get divorced. As things changed, the Baby Boomers had the highest divorce rate ever, spiking from 1990-2012 (my parents were part of this statistic). There is no wonder why marriage is less common for Millennials and self-development takes over importance. It may seem “new age,” but more families have kids without getting married or wait until later in life to tie the knot. Some are opening up their relationships to avoid the devastating regrets of being cheated on or, worse, being the cheater.
My father being closer to the Silent Generation than my mother, a Baby Boomer, instilled in me the Christian ethics of marriage and lifelong partnership. When I met my husband at 26, marriage was the last thing on my mind. I wasn’t sure how to be in a committed relationship or end my many friendships with “benefits.” I was conflicted between “if you want me to commit to you, we need to be dating” to “I can still make out with my friends, right?” Influenced by the Burning Man polyamory scene that my peers were partaking in.
It wasn’t long until I met my husband’s three-year-old daughter, and things changed. I suddenly needed commitment. Not just from him, but I longed to change my single ways and craved stability and family. I suddenly wanted kids so they too could grow up close in age to his daughter. After helping my husband obtain full custody of his child, the ball started rolling even faster. It wasn’t a matter of, I love you so much, let’s get married! Even though I loved him so. I was now questioning how I would play the mother’s role in his daughter’s life and how I wanted to go about it. Being fully committed to my husband and his daughter by raising her, taking her to school, keeping in touch with her grandparents, and helping her expand her social life, there was no doubt in my mind that I would do anything to be her mom.
We got married in 2018, and eight months later, I adopted her. This was the biggest miracle in my life, but it was a full-time commitment. I saw walls being built between me and my friends. As if overnight, I went from a social butterfly to being a mom while sustaining part-time employment. Reality sunk in, and being unable to go to this or that show or party created resentment within me. The first year of marriage was the hardest. He was working toward his career, and I was obtaining a higher education. We struggled to get on our feet as we worked, spending time away from our child, living in small, unkempt one-bedroom buildings with two dogs and two cats. Things became very stressful. So stressful that I wanted to leave.
Not my family, just the life we were grinding to achieve. So, we did. In 2020, our second year of marriage, we moved. We left our families and our friends to live in a more affordable place that offered us job security and a home where we got our own rooms. I had always promised our daughter when we had enough space for another child, it would happen, and it did. Our family continued to expand; even though children cost money, we began to make more. We became more stable by the day. Our stress levels decreased, and opportunities became more abundant.
I enjoy being married to a partner who allows me to be me. The constrictions society had fifty years ago has been broken with gender identity, sexual orientations, and ways of life broadening. People are finding new ways to conduct and maintain relationships. I’m not saying jealousy, rules, and boundaries aren’t in action, but I believe more acceptance and a willingness to try to please the ones we love for who they are and not who we want them to be helps sustain a relationship.
What advice would I give to the younger generations? Don’t push commitment without reason, a dying desire, or a meaningful purpose to marry. Otherwise, you are feeding the government more money off a concept they sell as “love.” Love yourself, love your partner, but most of all, love your life. Love your day-to-day routines. Be thankful for the life you’re living because it is beautiful! Everything else will come together. Not only will it come together, but you will notice things becoming abundant. Love, space, time, we control all of this subconsciously. It’s up to you how you use it.
Most of all, don’t feel trapped. We are not trapped in the lives we live. We weren’t back then (history), and we’re not now. It takes honesty with yourself, what you want in life, and if what you are doing is making you happy. If you find yourself unhappy, then there is no reason to keep doing the same things every day, which calls for change. I don’t despise my parents’ divorce- it was time for a change. And who knows, my marriage is still young. Yet, if you enjoy your partner, if you don’t want to change them, if you appreciate them for who they are and how they compliment you in achieving your goals in life- then put a ring on it. There’s no documentation necessary for that.
As a thirty-two-year-old, I reflect on my eight-year friendship with my best friend.
The Value of having a Best Friend
The best part of having a best friend is that you’re never alone. With a best friend, no matter rain or shine, you always have someone to call on, who will always answer to help you or tell you everything will be alright.
Attributes of a Best Friend
1. Cracks jokes in awkward situations.
Sometimes I say something out of line, embarrass myself, or I’m just in an anxiety-ridden situation, and my best friend always makes me laugh (sometimes too loudly.)
2. Makes you feel better when you messed up.
My best friend will admit my faults, rub my back, tell me it’ll get better, put on my favorite movie, crack open a beer, and sit with me as I circle in negative thinking. He will eventually pull me out of it.
3. Encourages you to do it, even when you think you can’t.
Before I do anything I’m passionate about, I consult my best friend. I tell him all the reasons I’m scared to do ‘this or that’, and he will tell me why everyone else who does ‘this or that’ sucks and how I could do it better if I put my mind to it.
4. Keeps your secrets to the grave.
You learned this one in elementary school.
5. Doesn’t talk badly about you to others.
I have had good friends that talk shit, but my best friend always has my back.
6. Spends time with you and your family even when you don’t want to.
Spending time with family can be challenging but having your best friend with you makes it a boatload easier, especially when they seem to be having fun.
7. Picks you up when you’re stuck.
My best friend has picked me up all over California. I am so lucky to have someone who will drive fourteen hours to get me, to go to a party in the direction he came from.
8. Exaggerates all the bad qualities of an ex when you break up.
After I met my best friend, ex-lovers never had a chance to bring me down for long. He knows how to make them sound real lame and for the future without them to seem real bright.
9. Cooks you meals when you’re drunk.
I’m not the best cook, especially when I’m drunk (you can say burnt toast again.) My best friend taught me to enjoy the finer foods in life. I think he’s everyone’s best friend when he’s cooking. 🙂
10. Corrects you when you are wrong.
My best friend tells me when something isn’t right. He will give me a look like I’m crazy and say “no” sternly like a parent to a child.
11. Never says no to an adventure.
On a whim, my best friend has taken me to really cool places, like the middle of the desert, just to watch the stars.
12. Helps with your projects.
No matter how much of an asshole I can be, my best friend always engages in all my projects, promotes me, and encourages me. He will pick me up when I fail and push me to do better.
My favorite part about having a best friend is:
Having Inside Jokes
Ex. My best friend smells really good, but my ex smells baddd.
Maintaining your Best Friend
Best friends love food and drinks. If they are not drinking, they love when you don’t drink too! Best friends love when you tip well.
Best friends love when you express yourself in your style. Your best friend wants to wear their most outrageous stylish clothes too but only if you do!
Best friends don’t care when you fart, but you must clean up after yourself, like your hair in the shower or your mess near the sink. Being stinky is one thing, but to maintain a best friend, you must keep their area clean.
Best friends love best friend things. Best friend bracelets, hats, shoes, tattoos. Best friends love having symbols of your friendship.
Best friends want you to understand their family. Even if they don’t like talking about their families, being part of their family is part of being a best friend.
Best friends love cuddles. Best friends are not normal friends, and they’re not your boyfriend or girlfriend, but they still love cuddles, and no one should get in the way of best friend cuddles.
Best friends love honesty. If the person they are dating is no good, the outfit is no good, their direction in life is no good, it is the best friend’s job to tell their friend this. Even if the friend is very mad now, in the long run, it is the right thing to do.
Best friends exercise together because we want to stay in good health.
Best friends are not mean to their friends’ other friends because they know they can’t be the only friend.
Best friends like vulnerability. If you can’t be honest with your best friend, are you even honest with yourself?
You don’t need a best friend to be happy. Sometimes you are just in between things in life or haven’t connected with anyone since High School. Hey, life is life. But, when you find a best friend, fight for your best friend, treasure your best friend, and don’t let them forget how much you care about them. Life can suck, but a best friend makes all the hard stuff that much better.
My name is Natascha with Humboldt counties lifestyle blog, Little Lost Forest. Today I will be talking to Adam Schluter, producer, and photographer of Hello, From a Stranger.
Adam: Hey Natascha, thanks for having me.
Natascha: How are you feeling today?
Adam: I’m feeling- I’m feeling pretty good. Honestly, I think you saw I had open heart surgery like two months ago and I just had some weird ups and downs but it’s summertime, it’s wedding season, we’re filming the show, it’s Monday Night Dinners, I’ve just been pushing it too much. I think I’ve just been an introvert crashing, hard but other than that life’s good.
Natascha: You’re looking great and you’re spreading positive energy, you are much appreciated.
Adam: Thanks, Natascha.
Natascha: Where are you talking to us from?
Adam: I’m in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.
Natascha: Cool. How’s the weather out there?
Adam: It’s magic, perfect. Like 85 sunny but in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho you have like three months of good weather, June, July, August. September, October are usually pretty nice. You never really know. But then you have literal six months of deep pure winter. There’s six hours of sunshine during the day. It’s brutal. This area is perfect.
Natascha: Do you stay in the area year round?
Adam: No, fuck, no. That’s why I photograph weddings during the summer. I make all my income for the whole year in those three months and then I have nine months off, so I like to spend like one month in the winter because, it’s very ideal like a hallmark town. Everything shuts down, you walk everywhere. It’s like ten feet of snow a month. It’s just gorgeous. But you know if I’m not working, and I don’t have routines in place it’s really easy to succumb to seasonal depression and my mental health stuff. So, it allows me that time to travel out into the world and focus on my project which gives me a lot of purpose.
Natascha: I can understand that we have a year around cloud coverage here in Eureka. Winters can be harsh.
Adam: What do you mean year around?
Natascha: We’re right there by the bay. Right there in Eureka, not in southern Humboldt or in Oregon but right where I’m at, clouds accumulated by the water and were stuck with it.
Adam: That’s tough.
Natascha: Can you tell my audience a little about Hello, From a Stranger?
Adam: Six years ago, I lived in Mexico and I wanted to move to a place with more opportunity. I was in a long-term relationship with a girl that I loved like crazy- with all my heart. I thought we were going to get married. So, we got sponsored by this outdoor company to travel the Pacific Coast highway from the southern tip of Mexico to Alaska and pick the best place to live out of the three countries. 22,000 miles, I spent ten months on the PCH, and I chose this town where I’m living now, Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.
We spent ten months together. Every day was bliss. We were on vacation, everything was cool. We were both travelers, so everything was cool. We were running from some demons. She was really running from some demons. She was getting over drugs and alcoholism, and a whole bunch of some darkness we were running from.
So, once we slowed down and we moved into this home that I’m in right now we literally had nothing, we only had enough money for the prorated first month’s rent and the deposit- we had nothing left for groceries, for food, we had no jobs, didn’t know anyone. But we made it work, got jobs, figured it out, obviously. Once we got more comfortable those demons came back and it pulled us apart. It came to a spot where I couldn’t do it anymore and we ended up breaking up. I was in a town where I didn’t know a single person and I was way far away from my family and friends, and I moved here with this girl that I thought I was going to marry and be with for the rest of my life and now she’s gone.
I was living in Mexico for three and a half years and I didn’t have a phone, so I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to make meaningful relationships without technology in America, especially. It’s easier in third world countries. I finally hit a wall. I was going into the first winter out here and I was suicidal. I was thinking about suicide, I was actually planning it. And one day, I really just didn’t want to do it to my family. So, one day I was just looking at a world map, just kind of dreaming, still very broke, not very much money. I was waiting tables at a restaurant, but I knew I was going to die if I stayed in this house stuck in my thoughts. I just said fuck it I’ll just do what scares me the most. If it confirms my fears that I’m alone and the worlds not there, then I can still commit suicide and give up but maybe it will wake me up and get me out of my head.
I booked the cheapest flight the furthest I could away, which was Copenhagen, Denmark and almost no money left, again. I was homeless in my late twenties. It never bothered me. I’ve always lived a very minimal life guy. I don’t mind being uncomfortable. I was like fuck I need to sleep somewhere, and I need transportation. The trains- the trains are all over Europe. There’s one company, Euro Rail, that does 95% of all trains in Europe. I just started hounding them to sponsor me for it, I didn’t have a big portfolio, it was just an idea, and we went down to Fort Bay to ask the group that sponsored part of the trip. Okay I can sleep on the trains; I can move around on the trains. From there my only plan was to find the beauty in the world and try to wake myself up creatively and do what scared me the most, which was to say hello to people and to interact with people. It’s easy as a photographer to be behind the camera and photograph stuff from a distance. I was trying to wake up. I was really trying to wake myself up. I knew I had to really challenge myself.
I’m an introvert. I’m terrified of rejection. So, I was like what is the scariest thing I can do? It’s like just go say hello to strangers and try to have conversations with them. That was the base of this whole thing. Now we’re twenty-one countries in thousands and thousands of strangers, been published three times by National Geographic, there’s a Ted Talk. There’s a book and we have a second book coming out on it this year. We started filming the show last year. We’ll have a show coming up here too. It’s still a work in progress. Mental health is not like one and done, alright I’ve solved this. No, I need to continue moving this project forward. It’s because give me a lot of purpose and it reminds me of the things I need to do for my own mental health and just keep trying.
Natascha: Your story gives me goosebumps. Congratulations on moving this project forward.
Adam: Thanks, Natascha.
Natascha: Of course. Out of all the creative outlets you could have pursued what influenced you to talk with strangers?
Adam: I think- A) I was incredibly alone. I felt incredibly alone but I was surrounded by people. It was like how the fuck does that make sense- I’m sorry, I guess you can take that out- I’m surrounded by people, I feel completely alone. We have social media and people around us, but there’s no in-person depth of those relationships, and that’s hard. It’s easy to send a text but it’s hard to sit with someone. It can be awkward sometimes. And ask for help, sometimes, and to give help when it is asked of you. They really need to learn this, because the technology, it doesn’t matter how many friends I have on that. It makes me feel worse. It makes me feel more alone. Because it’s not in person. The cool thing about this, I was actually so afraid, the first night I was throwing up in my room. I was deathly terrified. And there was no turning back. I didn’t have the money to go back. So, I put it all on the line and it saved my life, but I made up this script because I thought I better sound cool approaching strangers. I have to sound like I have this all thought out and put together. The script was on approaching and saying hello to strangers all over the world but only if I saw something beautiful and, in this moment, this is so beautiful would you mind if I took your photograph? That sounds aliquant and cool. but what I found was that when I approached these strangers you have a millisecond to earn their trust. You have to decide if they can trust me, if I’m trying to sell you something, see if I’m trying to get something from you and if you think that I’m bullshit then in that millisecond you’ll just walk away. You’ll never stop to talk to me. I found that script was dis-ingenuine. And so, through hundreds of rejections. I was getting rejected 90% plus when I was using the script. I just became more and more vulnerable. I was tired and beat down, I was still trying to figure this out. And the more vulnerable I became- you know I thought as a man it was dangerous to be vulnerable, weak to be vulnerable and foolish, obviously. The more vulnerable I became, everyone started trusting me and everyone started opening up to me. Strangers are crying on my shoulder five minutes after I said hello to them, it’s like what the fuck is going on. I didn’t have to do anything. I’m awkward and goofy. I don’t have the right thing to say, there’s moments when I don’t know what to say but like- it’s read as authentic and that’s all it takes.
Natascha: Cool. How do you choose your subjects? How do you decide that a moment is beautiful?
Adam: Honestly just pure curiosity. I love to pay attention to the world around me. There are absolutely no rules to it. It’s never forced, there’s days where I’m like I should get some stories today and I’ll go out and I just don’t find anything that inspires me that day but it’s just mostly I try to inspire people to put their phones down and notice the world around them and I feel that if people did that- come here [grabs cat]- I feel that if people do that and get off of the technology I think we’ll have a much more realistic, the actual beauty of the world around us, no fluff, no over optimism, reality by itself is pretty fucking beautiful. It’s pretty fucking special. And so, I just go out into the world, I’ll pay attention and I’ll see something that makes me curious. A lot of times it’s like a person reading a book in a park, it’s a person covered in tattoos, some of that sticks out. But I’ll say this, I never approach anybody that is staring at a phone.
Adam: I don’t try to be cynical about that, it’s just really there’s nothing interesting about that and I already feel that your head is going to be completely busy if I say hello to you and it’s just not my deal. I prefer people that are doing something else.
Natascha: While abroad how did foreigners view you as an American?
Adam: Yeah, really cool question. The main reason above all why I wanted to do this internationally is that I wanted to do it in places where I didn’t speak the same language, I don’t look the same as the other people that are with me. I’m doing it all in countries that I have never been to. That I don’t know the customs, the rules, the cultures, and what I’m really trying to show above all, now, is the power of vulnerability and the crucial necessity of intuition. Those two things together are enough to open the entire world to help you navigate it.
I found me by being myself, being vulnerable and being curious, it’s also- people like to see curiosity because you can see that I’m excited about something I’m passionate about it. People open up to me with that. I’ve been in some of the most complicated situations in countries around the planet, like the Jamaican story, I did this for six weeks in Jamaica. I would always be the minority. I wanted to be the minority, as a white guy to be the minority- unlike in America where I’m not. I wanted to really stick out, I wanted to earn that respect and not be able to hide at all and that’s a great example of that. We never felt those differences. We never noticed it. We’re sitting there, we’re not talking about things that divide us, we’re not talking about things that are different, we’re not talking about politics or religion, we’re talking about life and humanity and emotions and relationships and stuff that as humans we all share. Whatever the differences are we never notice them because they really don’t matter, we’re talking about real human stuff and in those conversations we both feel very human together. I’ve always been welcomed. I have only had one bad situation ever out of thirty-eight countries I think I’ve been in throughout my life. This is all spontaneous traveling. I only have plans for the first two nights, to get established and then it’s up to me to meet the communities, interact with the world, leave my comfort zone, and let them lead me to where to go next. I am very very vulnerable in these spots. And they do have chances too but I’m intuitive and that’s crucial but I’m also, the world is a pretty damn good place, it really is.
Natascha: You must be pretty street smart as well.
Adam: It comes with experience.
Natascha: If you don’t talk about current affairs, religion, or politics, do you avoid these subjects or does it not come up, does it not cause people pain and other emotions when you approach them?
Adam: I try not to set any rules to it. The problem is if we get into a political conversation accidently let’s say, I’m just very honest. I don’t know enough about politics to have a strong opinion about it and that’s by choice. Also, I’m not saying that everyone should be like that, that’s just how I am. I haven’t owned a TV in ten years. I haven’t watched the news in six months. I just blissfully go out into the world to go see the real story and see what it is for myself. I just don’t know a lot about it. If someone is- the problem with politics or religion- people have already made up their minds. They’ve already created their identities. They already know their speech, they know exactly-there’s no balance to that. Most of the time, like 95% of the time, there’s no doubts to those conversations. It’s I know this, and this is this, and that’s how it’s going to be. There’s nothing for me to learn from in that. I learn a little bit but there’s nothing for them to learn also. Those conversations aren’t very connected. If they do come up, I’ll stop it or I’ll let someone do a rant. If it just continues to not be balanced, I’ll just wish them a nice day and walk away.
Natascha: Are there any common topics or themes that arise in conversations?
Adam: No not at all, honestly. A very broad one, I love to talk about relationships. I love to talk about what inspires people, what they do outside of their jobs that give them inspiration or purpose. I love to talk about families, because I’m really trying to learn about those things. A lot of this is me being curious to help myself learn how to continue growing. I’ve never been married, I don’t have kids, I would love those things. I’ve been through some really tough relationships and I’m trying to learn from other people on how to make sense of that but it’s also a way for me to learn about myself too, in conversation. I’ll tell you this- the secret sauce to this is people know when I’m talking to them that my mind is totally clear. They know that I’m listening. They know that I am genuinely there, present in that conversation and that’s what allows people to open up to me so much because they know that I’m listening. If I had bullet point questions, oh yeah there’s that sound snippet – okay, next! They won’t tell you anything. And that’s fair, I shouldn’t. I’m not really listening. But I really am listening and there’s no format to the conversation and that’s why they go so deep.
Natascha: What are some fears or passions you’ve heard of?
Adam: That’s a great question. Passions are very individual and unique. I’ve just heard millions from juggling to painting to, I hear lots of music, to being a mom. Really beautiful stuff. I just love to hear all the stuff that people are passionate about because it inspires me to continue trying to find them myself. Fear is a lot more- there’s definitely a dread in the entire world right now of fear about life as we know it changing so dramatically so as a global humanity, as a global society, whatever you want to call it, were breaking apart. And so there’s a lot of loneliness that is felt all over the world, everywhere I go. There’s less in third world countries because those are really built on relationships because there’s poverty and poverty doesn’t have much besides the relationships. There’s deep, deep, deep understanding being communicated about technology creating a bit of a chaos that we don’t know what to do about. And the world’s very scared of that. What it’s doing to relationships to communication, friendships to love, and daring. The addiction, people don’t really know what it’s going to continue doing to us. It’s just taking us away from each other in person, so I think we’re going to see a lot of the damage that it causes.
Natascha: Thank you for sharing. Can we talk about your hardware for a second? What is your favorite camera and lens for portrait photography?
Adam: Great question. I always use only one lens ever, for my entire project and it is a Sigma R rig 50 ml 1.4 lens. I’m cheap and I travel light. I just mastered that lens. And I’ve always used ninety-nine cameras. I’ve had a Nikon, D7000, but this project has always been on the D750 and I moved it to the Nikon Z6 last year and it’s made my job incredibly easy. What’s so helpful about having the exact same camera and lens for the entire thing is- I’ve always seen the world in pictures. I’m cursed as a photographer, a lot of us are. I already see the exact picture. I don’t need to take out the camera, I don’t need to take out the lens, I don’t need to look through it. I know the lens so well, it’s like in my eyes so well that it saves me a lot of time and also, I already know exactly what the picture is going to be. If it is something real quick, like holy shit this is an amazing shot, I can get it in to take a picture in two seconds I can get the picture and then we can get into conversation. It helps me a lot.
Natascha: Nifty, cheap and trustworthy.
Natascha: I know we’ve talked about this a bit but what is your stance on the social media dilemma?
Adam: I think that it’s the end of the absolute foundation of relationships that is absolutely critical to us being able to move forward. We’re already seeing it, I mean suicides of despair are down to the age of eight now. There’s eight-year old’s committing suicide. It is so heartbreaking.
An example of that is, I was photographing a wedding and there was this adorable girl, she was eight years old too. She had this little dress her mom gave her and we were all running around. And I said, Hey! Let me get this shoot, it is such a beautiful shot of you. I went to take the pictures and she says, no! Not this side of my face. I only like this side of my face. And I was like, you’re eight years old, where did you get it? She was like, my mom says it all the time. And I see it on TikTok all the time. Children are mimicking what they’re seeing.
I didn’t know when it got cool to be so self-critical. Somehow it got cool for people to feel ugly and talk about themselves poorly. If we don’t have self-confidence then- it’s not ego, it’s self-confidence. It’s like pride in the person that you are. You don’t have to have the best body or be the most beautiful person in the world. Just being okay with who you are. It takes some self-work and that’s a gift we should give ourselves and to the world around us but right now that’s just not the norm. The norm is self-criticism, self-deprecating, belittling ourselves. That’s a bit of cancer to other people around us because then other people around us are like hey that persons beautiful, then I’m ugly. They think they’re ugly then I have to be ugly. There’s no end to that.
So that all being said, with this insane addiction that didn’t exist a few years ago, where people wake up with their phones and they go to bed with their phones, everything in the present moment has been lost. And obviously, the less present we are, the more anxious we are, more depressed we are, the more chaotic we are, we’re not planning on the future, we’re not thinking about people that are right in front of us in that moment everything is expedient, everything needs to be fast. And the most important parts in life are not fast. Love is not fast; relationships are not fast. Like communication is not supposed to be fast. And now I feel like I need to jam in a thirty-minute scheduled time with my friends just to catch up on how life is. We can’t live like that; people are dying because of that and have been. It’s just getting worse and worse every day.
Natascha: Thank you. How do you suggest breaking down barriers within a community?
Adam: I think that’s an easy one, I mean A) barriers are obviously constructed on pride, again, whatever barriers have come in between connections has to come from us swallowing our pride first. And so, the only reason that I wouldn’t go out and try to connect with the community and the people around me is if I was being prideful. Like oh man if they reject me, I’m going to be hurt by it or I’m going to be mad about it, so we think about ourselves so much that we end up not doing what the world needs us to do. To help the world out also, so.
For me, breaking down those barriers is forming relationships and conversations that are vulnerable, authentic, but also not focusing on those things that divide us. I mean, because that is just too easy to do and those are based on identity. Not based on who that person actually is. A lot of people right now with social media, all the stimulus and technology, they don’t really know who they are, they don’t really give themselves the time to find out who they are. They latch on to an identity, this is who I am, this is how I think, this is what’s right, this is what’s wrong. Again, there’s no balance to that. Focus on what’s behind all of that. It’s like who are you really and what do you love? What scares you? What inspires you? And not just question, question, question, because that’s not balanced. It’s like telling them about you also, like really having a balanced conversation. It allows people to have this foundation of trust, that all those barriers just melt away.
Natascha: Good. How do you see conversations with strangers as a healing tool? How can a person overcome their own barriers and talk to a stranger?
Adam: Yup, well however to overcome your own barriers, it’s kind of related to the question before. But again, just try. Like that’s honestly all I can say. What do you have to lose other than your pride? Just try. Hey, I want to talk to that girl. Hi, my name’s Adam. How are you? Hi my name’s Natascha. Nice to meet you. Hey ya’- I’m really busy right now, I can’t really talk. Okay, no worries. And then you learn a little bit. Have a nice day, I just wanted to say hello.
Also, I’d say appear to people without expectations and without an agenda because people can feel an agenda, too. So that’s important, to have an open personality when you approach someone. I think the most healing part of conversations with strangers is this understanding that I saw you. Everybody sees you, and we know that everybody sees us. So rarely do people interact with the world around them that even though everyone sees us, we still feel alone. And so, here’s an idea, I saw you, I said hello to you, and I was vulnerable with you. It’s very scary to do but now I know that you see me. And now we’re going to have a real conversation and we’re both going to walk away from that feeling less alone and more connected to the world around us but also understanding that each and every day we can do that. It might be hard, it might not work, it might be awkward sometimes. But we can do that. So now we have that understanding, we’re back in our home or apartment or whatever and our mental health is having a bad day we know what to do about it. Now if we do it, that is up to us but we at least know something that we can do to help.
Natascha: Do… you believe in BigFoot?
Adam: Oh, that’s a cool question.
Natascha: We are big believers here in Humboldt County.
Adam: I was going to say no. But I’ll just say no because I don’t know enough about it. To not know definitively but know I haven’t researched and don’t know enough about it. I watched I’m All Gas No Breaks on the BigFoot rally, it was pretty revealing but I don’t know enough about it. Do you believe in BigFoot?
Natascha: Yeah, yeah. They are interstellar type of beings that can be- not necessary here all the time, kind of jumps through dimensions type deal. I have another Humboldt County question for you, any stories that relate to pot farms for marijuana enthusiasts.
Adam: Oh man, I can do a whole movie on my time there. I mean the whole thing was so wild. We lived in Clear Lake, but it was off the grid in the wild, this was like twelve years ago. It was like the wild west. Those people are recreational. It was like you can have ninety-nine plants with a doctor’s order, if you had one hundred it was a federal felony so like ninety-nine plants. There were no police because Fish and Game Conservation were the closest thing to police that we had. You’re on your own fucking island. Out in the middle of nowhere. Lots of money in the house, lots of weed plants in the house, you have guns in the house, it was wild. And, toward harvest time there’s like no protection, you know, there’s no regulation. Everyone would do these twelve-hour shifts and there’s people sleeping on patios with shotguns. There were these two sixteen-year-old kids that were out there, and they came out on four wheelers. Not on our farm but the neighboring farms, grabbed a bunch of plants and the people from the farm chased them down and the kids accidently drove off the cliff on the four wheelers and killed both of them. It’s the wild west. There’s a lot of- you probably want more of an optimistic story, but you know.
Natascha: That’s a common story unfortunately.
Adam: Yeah, it is. A lot of boredom really, so fucking boring. You’re trimming ten hours a day, and it was before cell phones were big. You get bored of it. Everybody’s on drugs, a lot of people are on drugs because of the boredom, and I never did drugs. I smoked pot and ate mushrooms. I love those two things, a lot. But I’ve never done hard drugs. And everyone’s on some real hardcore drugs. We had people overdosing. One of our closest friends, out there, OD’d and died. It’s just boredom. People really don’t know what the fuck to do. They’re really just sitting in the house together doing nothing at all. Every once in a while, there will be cool stuff. Like one of the owners of the farm who would never talk to us like the trimmers and the people in it, but he’d come in and he was this very ominous figure. He was nice. He’d go up to the kitchen and sterilize every single thing in the kitchen and nobody was ever allowed to go toward the kitchen. He would put on Grateful Dead, and he would stand there for like twelve hours and he’d just be silent. You know never say a word. We’re all feeling his presence. And then he would walk away without a word, and we’d never see him again. So, there’s just interesting characters.
Natascha: Yeah, yup. My zoom is cutting me short. It says I have three minutes remaining unless I upgrade to pro, which was unexpected. Can you just tell us what you plan on doing next?
Adam: In my personal life I am starting to date for the first time in my life. Really trying to figure out relationships. It’s kind of complicated for me, for the reasons that we talked about before. With my show, my project, we just sold forty percent of it to a major production studio and now we have a major team that is taking, really my team- which is just my director and my camera man, two close friends of mine, and were all merging forces. The next six weeks we are creating our new trailer and we’re taking that too market to sell the show. Which we expect it to sell. Hopefully in the next two to three months we’ll have the show sold and you guys will be able to see what it looks like.
Natascha: Alright Adam. Thank you so much for sharing with us. These are some beautiful projects you got going on that are very inspiring and feel good. Looking through your art makes me feel- good.
Adam: Thank you, I appreciate you looking at it and I appreciate this time I really do! It’s an honor and an opportunity. I just want to spread it and remind people that they can do this too. I actually need them to do it because I’m only one person and it’s a big world out there.
Last year on August 10, 2021, my husband, Jeremy, delivered Malakai, at our home in the seaside town of Eureka, California. I am very grateful for the beautiful experience and the baby it brought me. Malakai is developing quickly for his age and is rather a large (2-3T/tall) boy. He is kind and plays well with others. Malakai’s birth has also been a transformational experience for me; I have found myself much more organized and future-focused. I have taken up business classes and organizational skills I didn’t have before. I had a summer off from substitute teaching and played in the sun with my children going from one campsite to the next, one town to the next.
It was a beautiful mothers day in May when my son started repeating his first word, “Dada.” The ramblings of “Da Da Da Da” went on for months until Halyaya (his sister) and I couldn’t help but reply, “I am not dada!” Toward the end of the summer, my son started saying, “Mama.” I might close the door behind me, and he will stand with his arms outstretched, screaming, “Ma ma! Ma ma!” Or he will be in a sour mood and ask to be held with his hands opening and closing and a crying plea “Mama, Mama,” snuggling his head into my chest and rubbing his nose against my blouse. This little victory was exciting for me, just as much as his little first step, which led him to run through the house with other children or play outside in the backyard.
Malakai started eating food which felt like it took forever as my friend’s babies were being fed bananas, strawberries, and avocados, but Malakai refused it all. He eats meals with us, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He loves snacks. Like Halaya, he prefers warm foods over cold foods. On my birthday, two days after his, Malakai fell into the fireplace and got a cut on his eye that bled profusely. We rushed him to the ER, and by the time we got there, he didn’t seem fazed by it. He is one tough cookie.
I love the community I have met, the friends and acquaintances my son draws in at festivals or parks. Even at the grocery store, I can have a sour attitude, and a lady will approach me and comment on the kindness in my son’s eyes or how much they love his smile. At his daycare, where I picked up a shift or two over the summer, I watched as his cheerfulness and playfulness spread amongst the teachers and infants. It will be hard for me to return to work and place my one-year-old in daycare in a week when summer comes close. Halaya, Malakai, and I have had two months of intensive bonding.
Even though we are no longer breastfeeding, Malakai still cosleeps with us. My husband and I want him to sleep in the cradle, but it is hard for me mostly to separate from him. He no longer sleeps next to us but more like against us, on top of us; sometimes, we find him at our feet. He will whimper or cry in the night, and one of us will get him a bottle. I love to soothe his cries. I expect that the cosleeping will be coming to an end shortly.
Now that Malakai is one, and I look back, I had thought the first year would be more challenging. I was surprised to have gained somewhat of life back, to continue to have a healthy relationship with my husband, and still have time to spend quality time with my daughter. Even though I have to commit more time to raising my child, I have learned to cut out certain times of the day to get things done, like writing my blog. Things that are harder than I assumed would be going out in public or leaving my children with someone else to watch. If I were to do it again, I would have breastfed longer, introduced solids sooner, stuck to using cloth diapers more often, and maybe would have been less eager to go out in the town. But in all, it’s just been great, and I couldn’t be happier with the little family we have created.
I want to ask you a few questions, and while doing so, I will give you my answers as an example.
First, sit and take a deep breath.
What makes you happy?
(ex. I am happy being with my tribe
when I am showing love,
and when I am being productive.)
What really makes you happy?
(ex. I am really happy when I am surrounded in nature. When I am in ceremony. When people around me are getting along. Also, being in trance.)
What change would you like to see in the world?
(ex. I would like to see people live with less anxiety.)
Take a deep breath, hold, hold, and breath out. Repeat those three times.
What do you want?
(ex. I want to be separated from the stress and needs of society. I want to be with my loved ones living self sustainably.)
What does your deeper self-desire?
(ex. I desire to draw inspiration from my loved ones, creating deep, passionate art while living in “flow.”)
(ex2. My deeper self-desire to apply my education to feed, cloth, and provide for my tribe while spending as much time with them meanwhile being heard and appreciated.)
What puts you in a trance like state?
(ex. Reading puts me in a trance like state. Dancing, music, sex, and movement put me in a trance like state. Massage and touch can get me in a trance like state. Art, poi, yoga and sitting in meditation help me fall into a trance like state. Being in the middle of the desert under the stars, a fire these things contribute to a trance like state.)
What are you afraid of?
(ex. I’m afraid of how my words and actions hurt myself and others. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid I’m not good enough.)
What are you chasing but not achieving?
(ex. I am chasing higher education, luxuries, and travel.)
Who are you?
(ex. I am a woman, living in America with a loving tribe. I love nature, animals and kids. I am a writer and an artist)
Where do you want?
(ex. I aspire to be a published artist and to work for animation. I want to spend my life traveling and living self-sustainably. To have an abundance of knowledge.)
How are you going to get there?
(I’m budgeting my money. I’m giving 100% at work and I work whenever I can. I have a savings. I am practicing my art. I am committing to a higher education, when I can afford it. )
Now sit in meditation and allow yourself to transcend into your future self. Letting your passion and the motions fall into your skin and settle within you. You have the ability to become the person you desire to be. You do not give up. You see the adventure within.
Thank you for reading my Waxing Gibbous moon meditation. Coming soon, I will be interviewing Adam Schluter CEO of Hello, From a Stranger. A man full of the stories of strangers spreading positivity, acceptance and truth.
Living in a liberal state, I am surprised to hear the uproar in the mom’s’ community on LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) in Disney, Pixar, and children’s animation in general. Children’s’ cartoons have always had heterosexual lead roles. As society becomes more accepting of people in our community, diversity is inching onto the big screen. Yet, some parents insist that homosexuality is being pushed onto their children. For years the princess will one day meet her prince was the “only way” that a child’s movie would play out. I want to ask, “How long are we going to keep homosexuality in the closet?”
In 2013, the hit movie “Frozen” came out, a coming-of-age animation about two princesses, Elsa and Anna, one of whom is overcome with the powers of winter. Frozen was the first Disney movie to portray witchcraft in a positive light, a significant progression compared to Disney’s bias towards Christianity. The hit song “Let it Go” was said to have been an innuendo for coming “out of the closet” and a piece on self-acceptance. Even though I did not find any correlation with to homosexuality in this film, this song started the buzz. When will Disney include everyone in their movies, not just heterosexuals?
In 2020, the Pixar animation “Onward” was released with a butch lesbian supporting character as the father figure. By no means was this character a leading role. Now with the cat out of the bag, we’re not all made to fit into generic categories. I witnessed mother’s’ taking offense to this character like she was invading their children’s perspective on how they might feel about themselves. If this is the root cause, then these parents also need to reflect on how they view their children, and whether they would love them if they are different. Perhaps that is what Disney has tried to teach people through diversity in their movies: to love everyone and not just those that fit into your category.
Bringing back “The Proud Family” was nostalgic to all 90’s babies. What kind yet strong-headed lead would we want on television for our kids, other than 14-year-old Penny ProudDisney brought it back as “Louder and Prouder,” and accompanying the Proud family, in a supporting role is a gay couple with non-binary siblings. They brought in voice actors that also identify as their characters—bringing work and awareness to the community. I am an open space, but it pains me to hear other mothers take offense to this rising trend and the feeling that we can’t be honest with our children about treating people as equals. Let your children follow their hearts instead of making them feel like they have to hide.
So on that note, is it just a rising trend? This is a rebuttal I heard the other day. “I would be okay with it [homosexuality in animation] if they [animation studios] weren’t doing it to make money from a fad.”
Well, I hate to break it to you, but as a bisexual female, I have been waiting my whole life for homosexuality to be in children’s animation. I honestly found heterosexuality kind of gross growing up. Seeing the go-to man marry a woman scenario over and over; got me sick. There are so many things we should be protecting our children from,: war, violence, hatred, negativity, but love? If we shield our children from love, what kind of hope are we giving them for the future?
Lastly, Disney released a short film called “Out,” about a man having difficulty telling his parents he’s in a relationship with another man. He switches lives with his dog and they play cat-and-mouse, almost exposing his live-in boyfriend to his folks. My husband didn’t like the movie when he saw it. The situation was all too familiar to him. We’ve all heard of the struggle LGBTQ people may have coming out to their parents. He wasn’t seeing what I was seeing. This was the first step. There it’s “out,” it’s been spoken. For a story to be told, it has to build from the beginning. Otherwise, the audience may not understand the world’s laws, but here it was. I would expect Disney to prep their audience to understand the struggle of queerness through this simple short, so that more complex characters can come into play in the future. Instead of immediately judging the characters, the audience may show compassion. We all live on this earth together.
Last month I went on three camping trips with the kids, to the Summer Music and Arts Festival, Grizzly Creek campsite, and with my partner to Ruth Lake. We had a great time and no one got sunburned! Here are a few quick tips on how I made it camping for a month with my kiddos!
The Sumer Music and Arts Festival was the hardest of the trips. We were vending and had a fairly large pop-up behind our booth but it’s not easy keeping a ten-month old in the shade. He enjoyed walking around and listening to music. I brought ear muffs for the kiddos so they could enjoy the stage and a wagon to pull the baby in. We were placed next to a yoga dome that was never built so there was less traffic our way. My daughter got poison oak in her eye on Sunday and we had to rush to the ER and they dosed her with steroids. I’d say we reacted properly and got her help as soon as it was obvious the swelling wasn’t going to go down with over-the-counter drugs. I came back to pack up without the kids. We brought lots of water to this event and had friends camping with us to help along the way.
Grizzly Creek Campsite we were able to cook on the fire. Check-in took a little while but the kids played with the freshwater spickets. Friends came and went and our dog Zed protected the campsite. Halaya set up her first tent which was a huge accomplishment. I took the kids swimming and Malakai had a blast in the water. He wasn’t a fan of his LifeVest but we had a lot of fun in the shallow area. I didn’t bring enough formula and the surrounding stores didn’t have any but I was able to contact a friend to bring it before it was too late! Camping with the kids isn’t nearly as hard as it might seem. The baby wakes up twice a night and I have extra bottles made. I made the bottles with hot water but I might have made a bottle or two during the day without making a fire and heating it. We brought baby sunscreen and a little sun hat. Halaya read to me at night and wrote a haiku in her journal. On Sunday we went hiking and explored the forest and river. I used my Ergobaby backpack to comfortably hike with the baby. It was a path off the road that doesn’t look like it gets a lot of foot traffic and leads to a beautiful clover field.
My husband got jealous of all our camping and wanted to come with us on an excursion. He loves to fish, so we went to Ruth Lake. Ruth Lake is beautiful. You can see the trees on the hilltop are burned from recent fires and have a white tint. The valley had come back, with lots of greenery and life. We wanted to camp at Boy Scout Camp but so did everyone else because it was full. I would recommend getting a reservation for that one, word says it has great fishing. Instead, we settled for the first campsite Fir Cove Campsite. The sites were more spread out than the other sites, there was easy access to the water and hiking trails. We brought both the dogs on this one and they did great! Halaya and I walked the trail closest to the water and it lead to the next campsite. We swam in the water which was mushy and full of tall grass. I swam pretty far out and the weeds continued to tickle my body. We cooked hot dogs and let the dogs swim after the beach was clear of other guests. We drove around looking for the perfect fishing spot but couldn’t find it. I recommend reserving a boat, fish are released into the lake seasonally.
Overall camping with the kids is magical. In the forest, no work and time spent together. I loved every moment I got with my children, friends, dogs, and husband. I appreciate everyone that was a part of my camping excursion. The biggest tip is not to forget sunscreen, lots of water, and formula. Don’t be scared to sleep in the tent with the kids and spend time under the stars.
Renascence means the revival of something that has been dormant.
A transformational festival is a music and art event that wakes the unconscious, resonates the soul and unleashes the skills trapped within.
June 10-12 (Laytonville, CA)- Renascence has been a music festival that has been thriving to come to existence through the creative minds of artist that have been attending transformational festivals since 2016. Aspired to have been in production since pre-covid, taking a major hit when the gathering was indefinitely postponed in 2020. The name Renascence resonates with attendee’s as they have been forced in their homes and away from community gatherings for the past two years due to COVID. The festival brought what we’ve been waiting for, a healing and rejuvenating experience. It was a beautiful relief and intimate reunion as we came into flow with the Renascence crew.
Volunteers began streaming in on Thursday, although the build crew had arrived the week prior. Gates opened to the public on Friday and people weeded through the quaint hippie town of Laytonville and on to the outskirts to the event.
Renascence was held at Mendocino Magic, an exclusive 600-acre campsite at the Holland Reservoir, which provides clean water to neighboring farms. With plenty of room to camp, attendees dropped off their gear and had the option to park in general parking or car camp. Glamping was also available! Cheerful camp host-squad was present and proud to share their “burning man” inspired foundation where they host other events such as stargazing, campouts, and paintball.
Three stages were conveniently placed within comfortable walking distances from camping areas. The Basin stage was hidden at the furthest North corner near RV camping, headlining DJs such as Angelic Roots, SUDS, Alien Kitty, and Bioship who threw down phat beats into the early morning, turning off its speakers at 8am. At Meadow Stage, across from artist camping and surrounded by vendors, live artist, and Couch Fam, hosted several more DJ’s including Beat Kitty, AN-TEN-NAE, Dev Step, and AHEE. The third stage, the Reservoir, hosted live music and EDM, situated along the waterfront under a comfortable shade structure, with amazing musicians such as Reverend Stefen Sams, Ancestree and LaPostive. With such incredible music comes fun, loving vibes.
Vendors, performing artists, and live artists filled this space with creative endeavors. Wire wraps and fine jewelry by Or Original’s, pipes and bongs by Leafy Green, and hand sewn jackets from Zuvuya by Representz Clothing. Headlining live artist, Joe Mallory (who painted at Renascence pre party), and guest artist Gabriel Welch. Alongside Elliot Bliss, Katie Rose and many more. Fire performers, aerial silk dancers, LED flow artists and exotic dancers left each stage a unique experience. Talk of the town was that the first Renascence was an artist party, we were left in awe flooded with talent all around.
Hiking trails, kayaks, clean swimming water and art sculptures made this more than a music festival but an exclusive experience. In between stages stood a tea teepee with psychedelic black light art and a patio where ayahuasca inspired music by Eostar and the WEB of ONE rang into the valley. Healing from the community coming together must have imprinted the land, by the time Sunday rolled around so did the heavy rains, which is always needed and appreciated in Mendocino County.
Co- founder and producer Tori Love made a statement on June 20th reflecting on the festival,
Volunteer lead and co-producer Jordan @santacruzceramics also states after processing the event, “My experience was humbling and gratifying. Being able to provide the experience of Renascence for our community was the single biggest undertaking of mind, body and spirit I have ever done. Working with Tori to bring our dreams into reality was a blessing along every step of the way and we’re so excited to do it again next year!”
Party-goer and old-school DJ, Lyjia (Tom Core) states, “Beautiful grounds and staff were welcoming. Had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. I had heard a joke that people party to bass music in the forests and didn’t realize it was true!”
I highly recommend checking the Renascence Festival IG (@renascencefestival) to view all the talent that attended, and I hope to see you there next year!
May 31, 2022, at the Arcata Theater Lounge- Mike Love played reggae-styled jam music with a crowd full of loyal fans. His music was inspiring, and the attendees were ecstatic to dance to such a fruitful message.
Mike Love shared a deep appreciation for Groundation, a band he opened up for when he first hit the road in 2013. While Mike Love’s band members had to take a step away from the road, he introduces his fill-in Ryan Newman, Groundation bass guitarist, who grew up in Arcata, CA, and Groundation drummer Paul Spina from Santa Rosa. His band also includes a trombone, saxophone, and keyboard player. They played songs from his newest album, a collaboration with Rising Tide, called Together.
Mike Love is a vocalist and guitarist from Hawaii. He is known for creating unique harmonic noises from his diaphragm that have not been heard in mainstream productions prior. His looper, analog delay, and barefoot buttons also contribute to his branded sound.