Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blogs To Leave You With

Ok! Well, I think that's it for this adventure...I'm glad I finally wrapped it up! I don't have plans right now to post all the photos in albums but I may get inspired to in the future when I'm not traveling and my time frees up. For now, I am already deep into my next adventure, out in South Dakota and running daily to fundraise for the next! You can follow me at my 'summer blog' -

and here are some other blogs/sites you might want to keep in your sights...

some friends mentioned on these trips!:
JENNIFER FALK GRAY (Neenah, WI) - poetry and other thoughts

GERRY CHING (Chicago, IL) - manning a Mobile Prayer Station in Wicker Park

ALLY SPOTTS (Portland, OR) - mostly about Christian dating/relationships

& other websites related to Leaving Brixton posts:
ART (NY) - prints, paintings (NM) - furniture

KIDS' CLOTHING (NM) - screen-printing

MUSIC (MN) - noisy intelligent pop (TN) - folk & rock/alternative (WA) - acoustic/folk kinda like India Arie

PREACHING (IN) - Tom Robbins, planted w/in Chicago

Thanks so much for being a part of my travels this past May/June!

Besos & blessings, Christy

Growing Up: Relationships

The second area I think I was mentored in the most is relationships. I stayed with an enormous number of married couples on my journey, and my favorite question to ask couples is "how did you meet?" Second favorite is probably "how did you know you wanted to marry them?" Third would be something like, "Do you have any words of wisdom for unmarried folks or younger couples?"

Here are some stories & advice that I remember:

- From my friend Cassandra, a memorable 3-pointer... 1) Make sure they're the one, 2) Make extra sure they're the one, and 3) Have only one person handle the money. (She used to work for a bank, and often draws up budgets for couples she is friends with to help them out.)

- From Andy Sanchez... Marry someone not because you can live with them, but because you can't live without them. Marry your best friend. And if they aren't someone you can't live without yet, keep dating them and give it more time.

- From Anonymous... I was unwilling to stay in an unhappy marriage because I had observed my parents do that for so long, so I talked to [my spouse] and said [this serious issue] needed to change or I would leave. [My spouse] knew I was serious, and changed. So we have a very happy marriage.

- From Anonymous... We have a good marriage, but it has been a difficult one. The year we married, we had [a severe incident] happen in our family, and spent a lot of time helping other folks and neglected our relationship. It was kind of a sandy foundation, not very strong. We've never been unfaithful, but we have had difficulty connecting ever since.

- From Anonymous (on counseling)... I came from a great family with no baggage, but the only thing I regret about our premarital counseling was that we didn't have more. Three years into our marriage we had some counseling, and I realized that in order to have a fair fight, I needed to give my husband time to think things over. I'm really good with saying things 'on the spot' so I'd win all the arguments. But then he'd bring the thing up again later when I thought we had already discussed it. So now, when we have to discuss something, even though it's hard for me, we'll agree to a time or day to discuss it and he'll have time to think things over in advance. That's helped a lot.

I wish I'd taken more notes during the trip because I know these weren't the only words of wisdom/experience that were shared with me. However, I think that time does the job sometimes of sorting out what you remember and carry with you. :) I hope these are helpful to y'all. Any other stories/advice you'd like to add to the mix?

Growing Up: Being Your Own Boss

You may have noticed in my blog description, the curious statement, "This is a story about growing up." This bothered me when I wrote it, and still bothers me. I don't know why I wrote it, and now, even in retrospect, it isn't QUITE clear. It would have seemed the opposite is true, yes? When you leave normal life and gallivant around the country visiting old friends, it isn't what is popularly thought of as growing up. It's kids who get to not work and to live and explore from day to day.

Well. I've thought about it a bit, and I do see two areas in which I was mentored on this trip, which might contribute to my 'growing up'. Here are my thoughts on the first:

AREA #1: Being Your Own Boss

One of the things I admire most is when people really take initiative in using their gifts and building something new...often at great cost to themselves, but the intangible rewards then seem to far outweigh the inconveniences.

A few examples that stood out to me were:

1) My friend Michelle Han. Having seen many bits and parts of her journey from PR employee & freelance writer to full-time artist with 3-4 employees working for her, she's probably the biggest 'success story' I've had close access to. And walking through much of that with her, praying weekly together, I know it has not been easy. You know, they say when you work for yourself, you only have to work 1/2 the time - but you get to choose which 12 hours! She's now a home-owner with a few other couples, has a dog she loves muchly and has her work showing at flea markets and art openings all over the city. I would often say to her, as this process began, "Seriously. Your stuff is better than 95% of what I see out there." and I still stand by that. If you do something well, you should make it happen!

2) My cousin Marie Gurule. She's still in the beginning stages of her screen-printing business where she is working a regular job and doing her business on the side, but it's really cool to see what she's doing and the steps she's taking to accomplish it!

3) Andy Sanchez. His furniture and art business is by far the most established family biz I observed while on the road and it was awesome to be walked through his shop and life, with all the bits and pieces explained. We even stood and talked for a long time about the system he came up with to come up with fair prices for his work, taking into account both what the market value is, and the actual cost of what it takes to run the shop and pay all the workers.

There were many others that stood out to me along the way - Erel Pilo, whose singer-songwriters & storytellers 'variety show' of sorts succeeded so well that she now has a monthly spot at the venue we performed at; Ally Spotts, who traveled to all 50 states with a friend blogging and working on writing a book; Cory Kaufman and his hammered dulcimer hammers; Keith York who has a painting business and travels; my cousin Sara Malnar who is organizing an enormous musical outreach in New Mexico; and Dan Cooper, my former boss, who is working on books and other projects on the side... Thank you to all of you, and more that I haven't mentioned. I think I have a lot to learn still about perseverance and entrepreneurialism (sp?), but...I think that connecting & re-connecting with all these folks has been a really positive look at choosing how to shape our lives. Whether we succeed or fail in these endeavours, we have taken the risk... and that seems invaluable to me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cats of America

I know I shared a LOT of dogs...there were not quite as many kitties on this trip! But here are the top 3 kitty photos for your enjoyment:

Annie - her humans are the Coopers in Indianapolis, IN

Punky - his human is my Grandma in Minneapolis, MN

Benjamin Button - her humans (yes she is a girl!) are the Escobars in Hollywood, CA

Trend-Watch - The Popularity of Metal Insects

Some people asked if I saw anything nationwide, patterns that stood out to me, or specific differences between people. Metal insects seemed rather popular in the west...

in Seattle at a street fair...

in Santa Fe at my cousin's house...

and in the courtyard of the Sanchez's in Albuquerque...

That's the only one I can come up with right now. I'll letcha know if anything else comes to me!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 45 - Coming Home

Sorry it's been such a long break before posting this last day summary. Maybe I felt that if I didn't post the last day, the trip would not have ended? I think they call this 'approach avoidance'. Late on the eve of what is now July 21, I post about the ending of my trip on June 23. The short list of my excuses for this happening almost a full month out are the following:
  • day one after return - sister eloped, chaotic last-minute scramblings!
  • day two - cousin got married
  • new job started
  • roommate bought a house, so I had 1 month to find new digs if going to S. Dakota in August
  • got terrifically sick for the last couple weeks
  • heat has been similar here to H-E-double hockey sticks, computers cause more heat
  • have been applying for work in S. Dakota also

So excuses, excuses. No more excuses. Here is day last, which you have been waiting for:

The girls/grandchildren extraordinaire were over in the morning. Fun to read to and chat with. :)

I lounged in the courtyard for some of the morning. I was surprised by sprinklers (!) at some point which seemed like it ought to have been part of a movie. But it was pretty hot so I dried off quickly.

In the afternoon, as we drove off, Lucy ran after us like a sad dog in a 70s movie. So cute.

Andy drove me to the airport and we had a good chat about the browns of the Southwest, the mischievous man on the RailRunner train (previously mentioned), and meetings which are not accidental after all.

At the airport, Frontier Airlines had pretty paintings on their planes of varied animals. I liked it. I fear other airlines getting ideas and having to look at ads painted on planes for Coke or whatnot. Please please no! Not that I don't like Coke, it's just advertising has enough air time in my life, so to speak, already. (Pun not intended.)

Beautiful sunset, beautiful flight. Happy to at last come home to my own bed, my roommate, her cats, my boyfriend, friends & family. Sayonara, sweet trip! It was worth it all.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 44 - ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Andy Sanchez

Shalom's father Andy gave me a tour of his work and the shop. These first few pieces (the eagle, the bench and the front of the entertainment center with the Santa Fe floral design) were in the house, then the others were in the showroom. Then he showed me all the wood and how everything is made. He said, "we like to say that our work is stories, and the pieces come with them" or something like that, and "we used to decide what we were going to build and then get the wood to do that, but now we look at the wood first and decide what to make from that."

It's a family business - his son Aaron works with him, and all 9 of the kids have some artistry in them. I think the chess set here may have been made by his son? (it's cowboys & Indians themed, not pc but historically accurate) Anyhow, it reminded me a bit of my great grandpa, who used to make and sell furniture made from polished agates (some of the Sanchez pieces feature agates as well). It was all beautiful.

(this photo on the left below is a close-up of the "waterfall" in the table above. :)