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5 Things

“Five things” is a now a newsletter!

My weekly post, “Five things for the week”, is turning into a weekly email newsletter.

Each week I’ll choose five thoughts and/or updates on topics and events to share. My hope is that this format of sharing will be less scattered than my Twitter rants. And I much prefer the email newsletter format over posting on a blog/website.

Also included is a summary of interesting things that I have read, watched, or listened to from the week; things that I want to share with you.

The newsletter is free; I have no plans to monetize this medium.

Thank you, and please subscribe here.

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5 Things

Five things for the week

Living wall

Self-Care Sundays

I’m increasingly creating a routine that ends up with Sunday’s focus on my own rest, healing, health, and overall mental state in preparation for the coming week. This comes in the form of things like

  • Personal grooming
  • Spending the mornings reading and writing
  • Eating without guilt, yet still healthy and in moderation
  • Playing on the Nintendo Switch

And, really, anything else that I want to do. The goal being that it’s a day that belongs to me, and shouldn’t be governed by stress or work/school to do lists, or any other obligations that I do not whole-heartedly endorse.

To achieve this, I have had to make routine adjustments leading into Sundays in order to keep them clear. A lot of these adjustments can be chalked up to simply reducing the amount of procrastinating that I do.


Nature

We spent yesterday in the Sierras. The fresh mountain air, the perfect morning temperature, the relaxing open-air train ride through the trees… it was all so perfect. Midway through I put my camera back into the bag and just sat and enjoyed it all.


Photojournalism

I’m not an Angels fan but, the passing of Tyler Skaggs is a story that I have followed this week. This picture of his mother on the pitcher’s mound, and tweet thread really hit me.


Writing

I’m going to start taking it more seriously. This, of course, can mean a lot of things. But, the only thing I want to say here is that, well… I’m going to start taking it more seriously.


Photography

I purchased this camera sling bag and tried it out this weekend. It’s perfect for the new camera. I love that it’s small enough to be comfortable (it’s very light) yet, still can hold what I need it to hold. Makes me happy. And appreciative.

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5 Things

Five things for the week

Site and Blog changes coming

I’m still in my planning phase for some upcoming changes to this site. While I don’t have anything concrete to update you on now, I will say that this site will remain an “everyday” general blog. I’m putting together a personal photography website, which will have a portfolio and a photoblog where I will share more pictures and posts on photography. And no, I still haven’t yet determined what my newsletter will be about and when I’ll start pushing that. It’s all just a work in progress for now.

2. Photography

During our weekend trip to Ventura, I deliberately left my cameras behind, opting to travel light and use just my phone for taking pictures. And while my phone worked out just fine, I did regret not taking a camera for two reasons, 1) using my phone as a camera means that I always had my phone out, so chances for being distracted by it were higher than if I had just been able to keep it in my bag. Not to mention my battery drained pretty quickly. And 2) I just feel better when using a camera (instead of a phone).

3. Read

If You See Her, by Ania Ahlborn – An entertaining, quick read that definitely has the author’s signature storytelling. I like her other books, my favorites being The Bird Eater and Brother. This, for me, wasn’t as good but I still enjoyed the read. I think that she self-published this one? At least she published only through Amazon so it’s only available there.

I Wrote This on a 30-Year-Old Computer It’s definitely nostalgia but I like reading about people using old technologies. This one brings back memories of typing out school reports and fighting printers the night before they were due. It also reminded me of fighting with family members for computer time so that I could write stories and poetry, and play games. What I really liked was the author reminding me how much you could really focus in one one task, not being distracted with multiple programs running, as well as sitting down to a dedicated place and machine to do that. Not being so readily available and connected has an increasing amount of draw for me.

The Lingering of Loss Jill Lepore’s touching post about her best friend.

Blowin’ in the Wind I enjoyed the photos in this post. I also learned that tumbleweeds are edible? I remember, in the small town I grew up in, before all of the new home construction how often we would have to deal with tumbleweed buildup around our house.

Why Megan Rapinoe’s brother, Brian, is her greatest heartbreak, and hope This is a great profile on Megan and her brother. There’s so much that so many are going through. All the more reason to be supportive of as many people as you can.

4. Watched

This Old House, s. 40, ep. 26 – I always like the end of season episodes where they finish a project and turn it over back to the homeowner. While I didn’t like this style (mid-century modern), I did like seeing the different techniques used to modernize it.

Stranger Things 3Binged during our midweek day off (weird). Sure, the series has its faults but I like the ride, and season 3 was no different. These kids are growing up, fast! Hopper P.I.!!! And the Neverending Story scene was *chef’s kiss*.

Women’s World Cup matches, including the quarter, semi, and finals – USA! USA! USA! There’s a lot of people that can/will write about this much more eloquently than I can. I will say this: I am inspired.

5. Listened

Why’d You Push That ButtonI especially liked the Jibo episode but, more recently I listened to the Celebrity Death Twitter episode and I found it interesting how so many things could be perceived from slight differences in how and when people tweet.

Song Exploder, ep. 162 Big Thief This episode, breaking down their “Cattails” track, had me listening to the band for the majority of the rest of the week. I just really like playing their songs in the background while I’m working. I find them very relaxing.

Bear Brook, ep 7 – We listened to this update during our drive down to Ventura. It’s a bittersweet update where 3 of the 4 victims are identified as a result of years of research and persistence from volunteer researchers. I sent a thank you to one of them, Rebekah Heath, on Facebook to for the work that she did.

The Mountain Goats I’ve grown into the habit of just bringing up their Essentials playlist, on Apple Music, and letting it loop over and over again. I love the songwriting.

//My Read, Watched, and Listened lists are two week’s worth, even though it might not seem like it. I’m pretty happy that I didn’t spend a lot of time watching anything. The reading list is also low due to our extended weekend getaway and then the weird holiday midweek, which made the whole week kind of lazy (and nice).

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5 Things

Five things for the week

Sunday morning

1. Balance

I work from home and I love it. It’s definitely a privilege that I try not to take for granted. Like many remote workers, I do struggle with “clocking out”. I sometimes feel guilty for even stepping away from my desk during business hours. As the time passes, I am getting more comfortable with it.

I do want to start mixing things up a little more, such as working out of coffee shops and other locations more often. If not just to get some more “social” tine around people. I have written about this before but, I do want to start networking and participating in some meetups more often as well. So I joined Meetup.com to check out what is happening in the area.

2. Habits

I fell back on my “no screen time other than e-readers after 9 pm” habit forming so, will I’ll have to put more focus on that, this week. The second bad habit that I started working to eliminate is working on multiple things simultaneously. In other words, I have been trying to focus more on single tasks, even adding time to my calendar dedicated to them. I would gauge my success rate in doing this at 50% for last week. I have some ideas to implement, this week, to help improve that.

3. Read

Inside the black (cherry) market of vintage Kool-Aid packet collectors After reading this, for a while I sat and tried to think of any food and/or beverage that I felt as much passion for as the people this highlights. The answer? Nope, not a single food item.

The Pu-erh Brokers of Yunnan Province A good cup of Pu-erh rivals the best cups of coffee out there. I love this tea and appreciate this article’s behind the scenes insight on it.

There Is Too Much Stuff Yes.

L.A. Son, by Roy Choi – I started to reread this. I have the hardcover sitting on my dining room table so that I can visit a few pages at a time. Chef Choi is doing some really admirable work.

4. Watched

Good OmensClose to when the book was first released, I attempted to read it. I didn’t finish, mainly because the religious aspect turned me off (I had a huge chip on my shoulder about religion at the time). Thew previews intrigued me so, my wife and I decided to give this show a try. It’s good! It’s got a wonderful blend of British humor and good storytelling. Perhaps I’ll pick up the book again soon.

A Tale of Two Kitchens The more I learn about Chef Gabriela Cámara, the more my admiration grows. This short documentary juxtapositions her two restaurants with the many issues across the US-Mexico border. It’s an excellent look at the people we often overlook. As a bonus, here is Evan Kleiman’s Good Food interview with Chef Gabriela (13 min). Another bonus, here is Dave Chang in conversation with her (68 min). I enjoyed both interviews very much.

June 17th, 1994 This was unique in that there was no narrator nor talking head(s), it was a documentary made from actual news clips and file footage to tell the story. And it was super effective; I found myself remembering exactly where I was and what I was doing as some of those clips were played (and I remembered hearing them the first time).

I remember that, during the chase, I was working (as a busboy at Black Angus). I was irritated because I had to work and all I really wanted to do was watch the NBA Finals. So every chance I got, I would find my way into the bar area to take peeks at the TVs. I very vividly, thanks to the refresher from this documentary, remember the split screen between the game and the white Ford Bronco. I also remember that it felt like the whole restaurant had frozen all activities, as more people filed into the bar area to watch the chase. Very surreal.

5. Listened

Prince’s Batman (1989) soundtrack I linked to Prince’s “Batdance” video. The first time I saw that music video was at my grandparents’ house with my cousins, who were visiting from Colorado. We were all so hyped for this movie. The entire soundtrack is just so fitting with the look and tone of the movie. I still love it. “Partyman” is my favorite track.

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5 Things

Five things for the week

1. Newsletter

I have been toying with starting a weekly email newsletter. I like the format but was never really sure that I would have anything to write about consistently. I have quite a few ideas forming, though, so I decided to move forward with the first step; creating an account on the newsletter platform that I want to use (Substack).

I don’t know when I’ll write/send the first one but, if you want to, you can subscribe here.

2. Habits

Last week, I started to work on eliminating one bad habit while tying to replace it with a “good” habit. This was simply to stop work, social media, and other unnecessary screen time by 9:00 pm to begin reading (books, articles, non-digital magazines). I would gauge my success rate at 60%.

So, this coming week, I’ll try to keep that going while working to eliminate the second (of three) bad habits.

3. Read

Save Me the Plums, by Ruth Reichl I loved the “behind the scenes” look at what Ruth Reichl had to do to move from the freelance to the corporate world. It still sounds very glamorous, considering the travel and prestige she experienced. It was a fun read, with excellent writing as always (from her). I always thought that I would go into journalism (photojournalism) after high school. That didn’t pan out and I’m kind of happy it didn’t.

USWNT Inspires Older Fans, Too. One of Them Was My MomGrant Wahl’s touching tribute to his mother, after she passed. I love sports for what they mean, and can mean, for people who watch sports. Sure, there is the sport itself but, the journeys and the representation and the stories… this is what I love best abut it all.

Are McMansions Making People Any Happier?I found this interesting as I watch developers and builders, around Sacramento, straddle the line between building neighborhoods with large houses and trying to fit as many of them into their subdivision as possible. It’s so weird to look out your window and directly into the window of your neighbor’s house. Part of me wonders if it would just be better to have townhouses/rowhouses and give the homeowners more back and front yards.

4. Watched

I watched a lot of YouTube this week, mostly watching updates and gameplay videos on Nintendo‘s E3 announcements.

I also found myself watching a lot of the Food Wishes videos. I know I’m late to the party on them but, they’re really informative and entertaining. I like Chef John’s humor.

5. Listened

Song Exploder, ep 161: Sheryl Crow A powerful, powerful track. Love the episode as Sheryl walked us through the process of combining her vocals with Johnny Cash’s.

The Moth: Mets Magic I found Marie Hershkowitz’s story to be very endearing. One because it has to do with baseball fandom, and two because it talks about the sacrifices one makes for others.

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Five things for the week

Canopy

1. Vegetables

There is a simmering movement towards eating more plant-based foods and we are not exempt from this. I love meat but, lately I find myself craving more vegetable-heavy plates and recipes. I’m not sure what has started this. As a result, I find myself learning new recipes and cooking methods. Though, I still will most likely lean on grilling as my preferred cooking method, especially during the Summer.

2. Habits

I wrote a list of three habits that I want to stop. I then wrote a list of three habits that I would like to replace them with. This coming week, I will focus on ceasing one and starting its replacement. I think trying to tackle all three simultaneously will be too tough.

3. Read

I found out Nazi money is behind my favorite coffee. Should I keep drinking it?Large corporations built by Nazis, who own and operate multiple brands, including a bagel chain. What a world.

Too Many People Want to TravelThough I don’t travel nearly as much as I did a few years ago, I would notice how disrespectful we travelers were to the places we were guests at. I can’t imagine how much worse the more touristy areas are. I can’t imagine a shipload of people pouring out into the streets of a small coastal town. That sounds like a nightmare to me.

‘Great Successor’ book excerpt: Kim Jong Un’s gilded boyhood of chefs, travel and lessons on ruthless ruleI may buy this book. I have some “tempered curiosity” about his life, wondering how much of this is real. The excerpt worked, though. Curiosity is piqued.

4. Watched

Captain Marvel We finally got around to seeing this. My superhero movie fatigue is still pretty strong. Sure, this had some fun moments but, all said and done, it was like the others. Same story and plot arch that these comic book movies have.

United Shades of America S4, E5 – The Real DC. I really wish that during my time there, I had spent more time getting to know “the real DC”. I had moments and experiences that I stumbled into but, not nearly enough to be memorable. Just enough to know that what we think DC to be is really not what it is. I loved this episode, peeling back some of those layers.

5. Listened

Criminal, “Jessica and the Bunny Ranch” I found this fascinating if only to remind myself that there is a whole world of things out there that 1) I don’t think about all the time and 2) that I don’t ever see myself being involved in, ever. Yet it’s out there and it’s happening. It has its own set of rules, etiquette, cultural issues and norms, and more.

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5 Things

Five Things for the Week

1. Health

Around Wednesday afternoon I started feeling… “off”. It wasn’t until later that I realized I was running a fever. That was also when the coughing fits started to happen. This lasted until Friday afternoon, where even the occasional coughing fit still snuck its way in.

I used two sick days for work (Thursday and Friday). I tried; there was just no way I could get anything done. I didn’t have the ability to focus nor think about anything for any extended amount of time.

2. Perception vs Reality

Of course I didn’t do anything directly to cause me getting sick. It happens to all of us. But this week had me thinking and evaluating: am I really taking care of myself the way that I think I am taking care of myself?

Careful there, I think I just crossed over into OverThink land.

I have certainly improved my self care. I know that I still have a ways to go before I got to where I envisioned. But am I as far along as I believe myself to be?

The blame for this doubt (and over think) is because I didn’t set clear, measurable goals along the way. So I don’t have a measure to tell me whether I am right or wrong, on track or not, succeeding or failing.

Must remedy this soon.

3. Read

The WNBA’s male practice squads lose to women all the time — and enjoy it This was an interesting read and my immediate and most prominent reaction to it is simply “that sounds like a fun job!”

The Billboard This speaks to the power of art, and what art can mean for not ony the artists but for our society. When I see/read/hear about cases like this, I try to remain impartial. I wasn’t there, we don’t have all of the facts other than what was reported on. And though I tend to believe the victims, I always temper it with the reality that I just don’t know all sides.

Simon Liu Isn’t A Sex Offender. But He’s Still on the Registry For Life Our system is messed up. Even some judges, like the one in this article, agree. So, why aren’t we changing it and making things right? And why does change, to do the right thing, take so long?

4. Watched

Always Be My Maybe Another feel good movie for me, mainly because I love seeing Asian representation. I love seeing the increase in opportunities for those who haven’t had them before. I’m also a Randall Park fan, and it was good to see him in a leading role for a feature film. Funny and sweet and loved the Asian foods showcased as well.

Wanda Sykes: Not Normal Damn, she’s good. I was so happy to see that she had a Netflix special. Hilarious. She has been a longtime favorite comic of mine.

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters I saw these movies come up in my suggestions (on Netflix). I heard mixed things about them but, in my excitement for the upcoming Godzilla movie (and because I was laid up, sick most of the week), I decided to check them out. The first one was promising, setting up some good potential story lines and introducing the characters (though most are clichéd and/or forgettable). Overall animation was good, though.

Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle I knew, going in, that these movies wanted to focus more on human stories rather than Godzilla and “monster fights” so, I figured that there wouldn’t be a lot of action scenes. But, I think that is what made these disappointing. When you use Godzilla as a character, you have to focus on that character. Show action. Show Godzilla action. This movie, for me, is where the anime, story, characters, etc. got so clichéd that it became boring to me.

Godzilla: The Planet Eater The third of the trilogy, surely the climax and ending would be all worth it, right? Halfway through the movie I was highly irritated by the over-explaining, over-narrating of the dialog. It became so repetitive and so tedious I started to wonder if the English scripts where just photocopied and collated in the wrong order, with multiple copies of the same pages. So irritated that I almost turned it off but, saw it through with the optimism that a Ghidorah vs. Godzilla battle would make up for it. Wrong.

5. Listened

Rilo Kiley, Japanese Breakfast, Rammstein, and Blackpink made up the majority of my music listening, this week.

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5 Things

Five things for the week

1. Family

My brother in law spent the three day weekend with us, and we made it a fun weekend. Other than making sure every meal was good, we went to Topgolf, did some reminiscing in my wife and his old neighborhood (they grew up around here), wandered around downtown, and spent some time catching up. All in all a fun weekend.

2. Creating

I carried my camera with me all weekend. I got some shots I was happy with but, this was more about getting back into the habit of carrying that camera bag around with me without being self-conscious about it nor seeing it as a burden (ugh, something to carry). I used the XT-1 and the 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 lens. I loved the flexibility of the zoom as we wandered through the city.

For Memorial Day, we stayed around the house and relaxed (where we caught up and just talked). I grilled a feast (above), including Santa Maria-style tri-tip, bbq spare ribs, garlic bread, ranch beans and coleslaw. It was so, so good.

3. Read

Something Is Changing in the Way People Eat at Home I’ve been increasing our efforts to reverse this trend, at least in our household. I want to be at 80% meals made at home and eaten at our table, and 20% going out and being more social. My wife and I both grew up in families where every dinner was at a table with everyone there. It’s just so odd how quickly we got away from doing that in our adult lives.

Why Walking is the Key to Being More Productive I have mentioned needing to build walking into my daily routine before. I still haven’t managed to get to a point where I can say I am doing it regularly, even after reading all of the different studies and essays and articles showing how much this benefits an individual.

4. Watched

The Lonely island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers ExperienceIt’s fun, and silly, and had some fun cameos, and made me laugh. Isn’t this really all that matters?

5. Listened

A lot of Japanese Breakfast came through the headphones and speakers, this week. It’s just really good music and songwriting. I created a playlist exclusively for them after watching Michelle Zauner, Maangchi, and Sarah Lee in this video, from Munchies.

I tried to listen to the Apple Music curated “Focus” playlists while working. They’re okay for background music and I didn’t really find myself distracted, which is good. I think that I need to use them in moderation; too much trance and electronica-type music for too long sometimes gives me a headache.

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5 Things

Five things for the week

reach
  1. I have to make a very difficult decision in the name of my health. This will take an opportunity away from me but, it’s needed. I need to heal. This was inevitable; I admittedly have been putting off this decision for quite some time. It’s time I verbalize it, take action on it, and stand by it. I need to heal.
  2. The best technology gets out of your way and allows you to do what you need/want to do. If you have any technology, hardware or software, that gets in your way, get rid of it.
  3. I learned that Cattleman‘s is a real steakhouse restaurant (not just something on Fresh Off the Boat)! There’s one about 25 minutes away from me so, I’ll be indulging soon.
  4. Just shut up, put your head down, and write.
  5. I can’t work on messy, cluttered desks. I don’t understand how others can. Physical clutter clutters my mind (at least, I think so) .
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5 Things

Five things for the week

Dark
  1. The more time I spend in this city, the greater the appreciation I have for it. It really is underrated (though, perhaps not as much as the locals play it up to be) . It’s definitely growing. It doesn’t quite feel like home yet, though I suspect that it is only a matter of time.
  2. I started using my phone to read more ebooks (between meetings, waiting in lines, etc.). I also have been using it for more tasks that I used to use the iPad for. As a result, my screen-time stats this week are really high. Like, really high.
  3. I’m almost ready to start filling my house with indoor plants. And I have some ideas for the yard that I want to put into motion. The first step is starting to invest in a bunch of pots and planters.
  4. My creative block is because I’m not allowing myself enough time and space to be creative.
  5. The most difficult part of last week (work-wise) was getting my head wrapped around the amount of work that needs to be done from now until March.
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5 Things

Five things for the week

Abu Dhabi views
  1. I like this tweet.
  2. I do take work travel for granted, sometimes. I don’t always appreciate the opportunities that I have to do what I do, and the places that brings me to. I need to practice more gratitude and appreciation for that.
  3. There were a few places, in Abu Dhabi, that I found myself wishing that I had brought my camera. I didn’t bring one on this trip, even though I had my backpack with me everywhere I went. I really need to get back into the habit of carrying one wherever I go.
  4. I forgot how much fun it is to drive around with the windows down, and blast the Beastie Boys. I feel like I’m in my twenties again.
  5. I’ll need to dig down and grind, this week. There’s a lot to get through.
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5 Things

Five things for the week

the Benedict Arnold (eggs benedict on a waffle)
  1. I’m making a point to load up at least one day of the weekend to get out and do errands. Part of this means saving some things until the end of the week (which is okay, because it will help me plan better). It also means ordering less online and going to more stores/places. It’s all part of an effort to be more mindful about what I am doing day to day.
  2. New rule: eat outdoors whenever possible (when weather permits). Breakfast on Saturday morning (picture above) was perfect on the patio compared to inside. Inside was crowded and noisy. Outside was quiet, with fresh air and sunshine.
  3. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I wear clothes that actually fit me.
  4. DirectTV is pissing me off. Too much to go into here but, I’m 90% sure I’ll be cutting the service soon. Which means we’ll be a streaming household only (because there’s no way I’m going to Comcast).
  5. My February project will be getting some plants and trees setup inside and outside of this home. Our home needs some plant life!
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5 Things

Five things for the week

L Bird mural
Lady Bird Mural
  1. No resolutions for 2019. No projects, writing or photographic. No defined things to change, do, or observe. Just another year, intentionally. I need 2019 to be my “recalibration” year. A year where I can just “be” without expectations.
  2. 2018 was difficult. It wasn’t, when compared to others’ 2018 anything remote to “difficult” but, for me? Difficult. I made a huge necessary change in moving back to California, mainly because I was struggling in early 2018. A lot. The remaining part was me trying to get reacclimatized to (what sounds weird to say/type) my own life. Thus, the reason for #1 (above).
  3. I have fully accepted and embraced my introversion. I truly have but, I do need to work on some balance. I have let my lifestyle stray way further into it than it should have.
  4. I want to start working on my own defined timeline and stop working off of other’s timelines. I need to drive more.
  5. I didn’t end up buying a car this past week (many reasons) but am still on the lookout for one. It makes the shopping experience easy when there is no timeline/deadline or sense of urgency.
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5 Things

Five things for the week

  1. The lingering smoke, from the Camp Fire, caught up to me, putting me out of commission on Thursday and Friday.  Scratchy throat and itchy eyes, to say the least. The perspective? This is minor compared to what the fire victims are going through. 
  2. I’ve touched on this before but, my work is trending away from “mobile” and more towards desktop. I just like sitting down at a dedicated space, on a dedicated machine, to work. Ergonomics are better, too. (duh)
  3.  Though this week will be a short (work) week, it will be busy. As always, much to do. I’m gearing up for it. 
  4. We have been fine since reducing from two cars to one. Though, I find myself wanting a second one from time to time. Part of this is because it’s comfort. Part because I have always had my own car up until this past Summer. Sometimes I do get a little stir crazy. This is the ultimate test in understanding a need versus a want
  5. I think about becoming more… public. You know, promoting the blog more often, changing social media settings from private to public, and engaging in more (online) conversations regularly. I can’t quite put my finger on why but, there’s something keeping me from doing so.And I’m fine with that, for now. 

//So sad that I don’t really have a good photo to add to this post. I don’t think I picked up my camera once, this past week. That’s just not good.