Live Inspired: Indulging the senses in Annapolis

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Spending a weekend in Annapolis requires one, primarily, to use their senses.

Of sight — the heritage colonial architecture, the parade of American flags hung from businesses and residences, the sultry, boat-filled waterfront erupting with blazing sunsets, the pristine turquoise domes and lighted posts at the naval academy, all coalescing into a watercolor landscape from a painting you once saw.

Of smell — the scent of saltwater and magnolia flowers hanging in the air, the salinity of fresh oysters as they’re pried open, the richness of the tide’s other bounty as it’s simmered in olive oil and white wine and butter.

Live Inspired: Chemex, craft beer and joy in the world’s most violent city

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

The barista arrived at my leather banquette table armed with a tray full of equipment.

The pourover stand, with a glass decanter at its base. A stainless kettle with a delicate, gooseneck spout. A canister of the coffee itself, which she allowed me to whiff before beginning the precise brewing process, ensuring the shape and stream of the water flow was optimal for my single perfect cup.

Around me, bright murals covered the walls. Edison lights hung from the ceiling. Japanese siphon contraptions, which were also used to brew this organic java, were strategically placed around the cafe, like art.

I was in San Pedro Sula, dubbed “the most violent city on Earth.”

And I was having a lovely time.

Live Inspired: a necessary education (cat calling and the machismo culture in Honduras)

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

Perhaps it really started to sink in with the boy, appearing to be all of 11 or 12 years old.

As I approached him on the street in Gracias, Honduras, he made a show of eyeing me. He pursed his lips together as I walked past and made the exaggerated kissing noises I had become so accustomed to hearing.

“Mami,” he called, sneering and looking to his young friend for reaction.

It was my 17th such incident that day — hearing “pssts” and “wows” as I walked to the bank; absorbing “I love yous” as I searched for a place to eat lunch; receiving the hard stares and persistent chatter of professional predators as I walked around, taking photos.

But it was this preteen, years from sprouting his first chin hairs, that really drove home the point.

Here in Honduras, there is no Me Too movement. Feminism is not trendy nor visible. And the piropos (cat calling)? It’s systemic. It’s so engrained in the culture that the habit is picked up by kids who haven’t even learned what it really means.

Live Inspired: What I think about before I take a photo

Behind every snap, cultural, social and historical context needs to be considered.

• In partnership with John Reamer and Associates

I think about photography — and now videography — all the time.

I think about it when women in colorful skirts walk past colorful buildings. I think about it when old men in cowboy hats lean up against a building while devouring ice cream cones. I think about it every time I go into a market and the worn, leathery hands of the vendors contrast with the youthful ripeness of the produce.

Sometimes beautiful angles just occur, when the world so naturally aligns and a portrait emerges, so defined. Sometimes beautiful moments just happen, girls in flowing dresses dancing around a cotton tree, the sun’s golden light igniting pieces of their hair.

I think about taking these photos all the time.

But often, I don’t.

Why I refrain has nothing to do with the laws of whatever place I’m in, as someone on Instagram suggested to me recently, and everything to do with the complex cultural, social and historical considerations surrounding every snap.

Live Inspired: the new vacation

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates

I remembered the feeling so distinctly that I almost felt it within myself as I saw it through their eyes.

On my iPhone screen: a family I follow on Instagram, on the last day of their February beach vacation, soaking it all up and wishing their last moments to pass slower.

There was the Last Sunset and the Last Sunrise, dutifully and beautifully documented; smiles captured in the tide; sunglasses that couldn’t quite hide the wistful eyes.

Then images of the road, and already nostalgic faces in rear-view mirrors.

From my perch at an open-air bar in Corozal, where I had come to cool off between video shoots, I looked out at my present nook in the world; my home for the last month.

Beyond the dusty street in front of me lay a children’s park abutting the Caribbean ocean. Turquoise waves rolled in under full sun. Birds chirped. Great palm leaves rustled. 

I stopped for a minute and watched it all.

Live Inspired: In the middle of the night

It’s 4 a.m.

The cracks in the ceiling glow through shards of moonlight poking in.

But it’s the cracks in my confidence, my self belief, that show up most glaringly at this hour.

**

Did I get good shots today?

This camera is new; I’m learning it on the fly. I’ve wasted some moments with bad audio, bad focus, bad settings.

I won’t get those moments back.

Will this video come together? Will it be any good? Will it be reflective?

I adore Corozal. I feel so motivated to show all that I love. But the things I want to portray still elude me. Here, thanks to the incredible warmth that surrounds me, I have dined in people’s homes. I’ve shared food they’ve made with their own hands, with worn and beloved recipes, passed down through generations.

And this, I can’t share, not really.

Live Inspired: my very serious guide to the elite nomad’s beauty routine

Since some people have commented on this glorious bronze glow I’ve obtained while traveling through Central America, I thought I’d share my beauty secrets for achieving radiance and staying glamorous while on the move.

Repeat at your own risk.

SECTION 1: BODY CARE

Shower (but not too much). One pervasive theory suggests that regularly bathing yourself with water and soap is a good way to, you know, remove sweat and dirt. But that theory doesn’t know sh*t about ice cold water lines, and cockroach-lined walls. So resort to this option only when you start to wonder who in the room smells so bad and then realize you’re the only person in the room. When the time comes, here is the proper protocol:

  1. Do some jumping jacks. Maybe some pushups. You’re going to want to be sweating going in to this. Bonus: this will help keep you #lean and #fit.
  2. Scream as you walk into the shower. This is akin to breathing out while lifting weights or biting down on something while digging out a splinter. You’re acknowledging that this is going to suck and you’re proactively dealing with it.
  3. Find some 3-in-1 action. This is no place for multiple steps. This is a war zone. Forget the conditioner; forget the loofah full of body wash. You’ve got time for one substance — it doesn’t matter if it’s supposed to be 3-in-1, it just is now. Slap it on, wash most of it off and get out.

Live Inspired: planning travel/ what’s ahead

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates

Between all the visible parts of my job as a roaming writer and video producer, there is one element constantly in the background:

Planning and booking travel.

Living a life on the move requires me to constantly be thinking about where I came from and where I’m headed in addition to where I am in that moment.

I get a lot of questions about how I decide where to go and where to stay and what to do while I’m there, so I thought I’d share some of my process — that delicate balance of making a plan while staying open to major change — as well as some of what’s in store for me in the months ahead.

Live Inspired: Resolutions for 2019

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates

When I took off on my open-ended journey, I anticipated learning a lot about the world and other people, but as it turns out, I’ve uncovered so much about myself, too.

Leaving my support network, my sold possessions, everything I know, to travel alone, full-time, through places where basic comforts I’ve long took for granted are often absent — while trying to build a business from scratch — has tested me in major ways.

I’ve been hard on myself as I’ve struggled through the ups and downs, condemning my shortcomings, my moments of frustration and sadness and exhaustion. I’ve cracked the internal whip, always believing I could do more, always terrified I wasn’t enough.

Over the last six months, and perhaps especially the last several weeks, I’ve broken down enough to realize that track isn’t sustainable, and it’s not allowing me to be my best self or produce my best work.

So as I look ahead into 2019 and all the promise it holds, the resolutions I’m making aren’t ones of great achievement, of hard work, of doing more and being more. I am old enough now to realize I need no extra nudge in that direction, and I probably need a nudge the other way.

Instead, I am vowing to let go of some of the pressure and expectation and to be more gracious to a person who is constantly striving to do her best: me.

Live Inspired: 2018 reflections

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates

Nearly one year ago, I walked into a tiny, Portuguese restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown — one of my favorite neighborhoods in my favorite city, and one that always makes me think and dream — and plopped down at the bar.

As I sipped a glass of wine, I looked through the window, out onto the dark, bustling streets, and my heart hurt. Minneapolis, my adopted home of eight years, had been great to me, as had the Star Tribune, from which I was taking a short break to wander New York and see old friends.

But change, I knew, was long overdue.

So over a plate of prawns and white beans, I quietly hatched a plan. I was going to flip it all upside down.