Tag Archives: life

Taiwan, Asia’s best kept secret

13 Dec

I think Taiwan should be on your bucket list and here’s why:

Hualien Coast

Is that not enough reason to go? I mean, seriously, is this Taiwan’s best kept secret? I had no idea it looked like this. No one ever told me. It’s not one of those popular destinations that people talk about having fantastic turquoise water. Anyone I’ve shown the picture to hasn’t responded like they knew that it existed in Taiwan either. Crazy! I spent a week in Taiwan and all of it was fantastic, not just this one view.

We spent a few days in Tainan City at an apartment. We wandered the streets, ate some delicious food and drank a lot of bubble tea. We tried to find the night markets and were successful on one attempt. There were tons of temples to see and check out. I discovered an amazing coffee shop to work at, Donutes, just up the street from where we were staying. It’s open 24 hours, they have great coffee, amazing cakes and good wifi. What a treat!

After a few days in Tainan City we decided we wanted to explore more of the island and get back to some nature. Once I found some information on the Taroko Gorge I was intent on checking out the east side. I love nature, hiking and visiting waterfalls. We booked a train to Hualien.

Once we were in Hualien we rented a scooter and high tailed it to the gorge. We spent a few hours driving up to the top and checking out all the viewpoints. We hiked a bit and took a ton of photos. The clouds were amazing as they wrapped around the mountains. Like Oregon, we also found a ton of waterfalls coming down the mountains. The clouds were getting lower and darker and it looked like we could get some rain. We started on our way back home. We didn’t make it very far before the downpour started. We were drenched and we had miles to go. It finally let up and we started drying out. However that didn’t last long before another downpour started that was worse than the first. I now understand why it’s so green on that side of the island.

We stayed the night at this amazing hostel. One of the nicest I have ever stayed in. I’d highly recommend Wow Hostel. They aren’t just in Hualien either.

Wow Hostel

Before we headed out of the area we drove the scooter up the coast and that is when we saw the cliffs with the amazing blue water. It was a wonderful drive and there was only sunshine on our backs.

From Hualien we rode the train up to Taipei and stayed one night in the amazing Éclat Hotel (pictured below, center). We were right on the train and bus lines but we were close enough to walk to the night market, Taipei 101 Tower and Elephant park. We stumbled on a photography course in the exact location that we wanted to take photos. It was a our lucky night to learn some new tips and tricks for night photography! We also found an awesome speakeasy tucked behind a wall in a coffee shop. The manager was even from Portland, OR. Talk about a taste of home with those amazing cocktails.

We really enjoyed our time in Taipei. We also enjoyed taking the high speed rail back to Kaohsiung City. I wish we had high speed rail in the U.S..

If I had more time in the Taipei area I would have loved to get to the Yangmingshan National Park. I would have also loved to travel East and see the sunrise on the coast near the Gold Museum. There’s also some more waterfalls to explore.

TaipeiTowerPanoSM

Summer Camp and Living a good life

27 Sep

I went to summer camp as a child. We didn’t go too far from home but we were without our parents. It was a good exercise in learning how to reach out to strangers for help. We also were continuing to learn how to connect well with others (something I relearned as an adult from Scott Dinsmore’s Connect with Anyone course at WDS).

Summer camp as an adult is much the same to me. Yes, I did say summer camp for adults. You haven’t heard of such a thing. If it wasn’t Camp GLP, I’m sure there are others.

I usually pick and go to events for a sense of connection. I seek to be around other people that are doing amazing things. I want to connect with others I can learn from and grow with. I also seek those with similar values and beliefs. The older we get the clearer these get (in theory and hopefully in practice). That’s not to say our values and beliefs don’t change but they do hold more importance than when I was 10. I have less tolerance to be around people I don’t believe in or that don’t believe in me.

I went to Camp GLP this summer and it was fantastic. I met so many awesome people and there were so many more that I’m sure were just as awesome that I didn’t get to connect with. I laughed a lot. I cried multiple times. I co-created art. I listened. I sang. I talked till I was hoarse. I exercised. I broke down some of my walls and barriers. It was a very vulnerable and raw experience and I loved every minute of it. The one thing I didn’t get was a lot of was sleep.

Why did I choose to go to camp as an adult?

Some very good friends of mind encouraged me to go. They told me that for them it had been life changing. I have similar values and interests to them. The price seemed like a good investment so I signed up. Then slowly I met more and more people online and in person that would be there. It just kept getting better and better. Although, I still felt a bit like I was coming to the party a little late since this was year two. But the more people I met the more I knew I belonged.

We were going all day long, from six in the morning till after midnight each day. We had speakers, workshops, group exercise, meditation, meals and a whole lot of other activities to occupy our mind, body and spirit. It was a different kind of “conference”. It wasn’t just about the speakers or the content, in fact that was my least memorable part, it was about living a good life in mind, body and spirit. We learned new exercises, meditation practices, how to be more vulnerable, new ways to connect with people and show up. We learned how to be more grateful to ourselves and connect with others on a much deeper level than you do outside of camp. It’s like you are in a bubble of love and you never want to leave.

If you are the 5 people that you most surround yourself with, you must pick wisely.

What did I learn for business at camp? 

The most practicable, actionable, content came from Derek Halpern on how to launch a video course. Will I be launching one? I’ve seriously considered it even before camp so that may be happening. When? I’m not sure since I just launched my new website (most blogs posted there now) and my first ebook. I have so much I want to do! So much I want to give to the world.

At camp, I also learned how to have more confidence, how to have better relationships, how to get in my writing groove and so much more. But mostly what stuck was how to show up with my authentic self and really, deeply, truly connect with other people. Something that is so important to me. It’s a big value. Just like vitality. To live life now, because tomorrow may never come.

What do you want to be remembered for?

P.S. I wrote this post before I learned of Scott’s passing. I can’t believe the impact he had on me and so many others. He is all over this post and I didn’t even realize how much until I re-read it to post after his passing. I am in shock learning of his death.Without Scott I would have not some of my best friends that I have been in a mastermind group with ever since we started his passion course over two years ago. Thank you Scott!

I hope you all know how precious life is. Do something that matters…and remember to look up.

10 tips for better photos

1 Sep

Here are my top 10 tips to help you take better photos

1. Avoid distracting elements such as too much light / dark, light / dark elements. Try to set either a light or dark tone for your overall image.

2. Eliminate distracting elements that draw your eye in a bad way. Examples: If things are too close to the edge they will create unwanted tension because your eye wants to close the small gap. If there’s red in a picture it usually is the brightest element and can draw your eye even if it’s not what you wanted the viewer to focus on.

3. Don’t center things, it creates more interest when things are off center. Asymmetry moves your eye around the image more than if things are exactly centered. When things are centered rather than in thirds, your eye just looks and rests only in the center.

4. If you want to really impact people with your work. Think of how to photograph the subject from a different view (physically or emotionally).

5. Depth of field matters. You want to illicit emotion and movement of the eye. You want to focus on one subject and let the rest fall away / become the background. Your other option is to have everything tack sharp (everything all in focus). For sure, one thing in your picture has to be tack (meaning REALLY) sharp in the photo. Pick your focus: all in focus or only one element that’s focused really well, that will create your one emotion.

6. The fewer the elements, the stronger the composition. As you don’t need too many words in a sentence, you don’t need too many elements in a photo. It gets distracting. Have a resting place like the sky or the ground. Plus, if you have that space you can create images like this for your brand:

Light Our Own Way

7. Give scale by not all things being the same size. If everything was the same size in the photo it wouldn’t be as dynamic. Same goes for a headline in an ad. If it was the same size it wouldn’t draw you into the article.

8. When taking pictures of people, make sure that they don’t have a tree coming out of their heads.

9. If the photo is a close up picture of a person, make sure their eyes are in focus. That is the most important thing on the face to focus on. It will draw you into the portrait.

10. Remember that posture also matters a lot when taking pictures of people. You want them to shine in your photo, not look like Oscar the slouch that has no figure.

 

If you are trying to figure out what to do for your own head shot session, check out this blog post for tips.

If you like this post I’m coming out with an ebook very soon. It has expanded tips as well as example photos. Leave a comment if you want to know when the book is available.

The world doesn’t have enough I love you’s

25 Aug

Have you ever wondered what fills you up? Lights you up? What replenishes your cup? Well, I was challenged by Jonathan Fields of the Good Life Project to do just that and I thought I’d share some of it with you in case it helps.

The challenge is to fill each of these buckets: community, vitality and contribution. They just so happen to be three of my core values. Community and vitality are also two of my core desired feelings (from the Desire Map). How do I feel these feelings or do things that fill up these buckets? I wrote a list. If I am ever at a loss I can do something small on this list or something a bit bigger.

  1. Write a list of your closest friends, near and far. When you feel sad or lonely, write to one of them. Pick out a piece of paper or card and write something nice. Then pop it in the mail with a good old fashioned stamp. You’ll feel good and they’ll feel better having received it.
  2. Pick up the phone and call a friend. So often we think we should text, email or instant message them. This isn’t connection. It’s a farce. Social media can fool you about what’s going on in a person’s life because it’s filtered through them and through the channel itself (ever heard of Facebook algorithms…don’t get me started). By picking up the phone you can hear the tone in their voice. You can ask questions and you can listen to the answers. You can laugh or cry together. You can’t do that online. It’s not the same.
  3. Hug someone. They say that hugging someone for 20 seconds is really good for you emotionally and physically. Don’t believe me, here’s some proof.
  4. Tell someone you love them. Bonus points if you can also tell them one reason why you love them. Extra bonus if it’s in person.
  5. Write love notes to yourself or positive affirmations and stick it somewhere that you’ll see it on a daily basis. If you don’t like writing it yourself they sell cards or calendars that you can flip though or look at when you need to feel more awesome. Here’s one I like: The Present Moment: 365 Daily Affirmations
  6. Do something with a friend. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something with someone. You’ll feel better if you listen to them, hug them or even tell them you love them while you are hanging out. There shouldn’t be any more of this stingy “I love you” business. If you love having someone in your life tell them you love them (in the platonic, I’m already married but you are an awesome friend sort of way).
  7. Get out of your head. Meditate and/or listen to some emotional balancing systems. It totally helps to clear out the clutter and try to have some quiet for a few moments every day. I know I feel like a better person when I do this.
  8. Do morning pages. If you have never heard of this check out The Artist’s Way. It teaches you about morning pages. They are pretty much a brain dump that you do every morning. It does help to make you more creative. So can reading The War of Art. Fight the resistance! Create more! Or as another friend of mine says: Make. Make. Make.
  9. Exercise. So often when I’m busy this is the first item that gets cut but it’s so beneficial for my mind and body. To me running is a form of meditation. When I don’t get my exercise in I can be more crabby. I don’t have all those happy brain chemicals that I need.
  10. Get out into nature. Nature helps you feel more grounded. I know that when I’m cranky, if I just go on a hike or go to a park I feel better. I feel more at one with the world. It’s not all woo-woo and it’s different than running though the city as I often do. Being in nature just works. I’m sure there’s a study on it too! I just didn’t look because I know it works for me. Try it.
  11. Treat yourself as a friend. This is a big struggle for me. I give the best advice to friends but am so hard on myself. Gosh darn it, I should be my own best friend. I should be treated that way. So instead of being hard on yourself, ask what you would tell a friend.
  12. Ask yourself what do you need in this very moment. Listen to the response. Your heart should help you answer. There’s some techniques to help you with this if it’s hard for you to hear the answers.
  13. Keep it simple. Sometimes all you have to do is do something simple for someone like pick up something they dropped, hold the door, tell someone thank you, smile, look someone in the eye when they are talking to you, listen when someone talks to you.
  14. Go on a date with yourself. What do you like to do? Go by yourself and enjoy the time alone.
  15. Join a community if you haven’t found one already. I’m a part of the WDS group and they are always ones to fill my bucket.
  16. Play. What is something that you enjoy that you don’t do enough? Or perhaps you can think of those things you used to do as a kid that lit you up. Chances are you’ll probably still enjoy those things today.
  17. Ask someone how you can help them. Just offer, even if they say no, they’ll appreciate it.
  18. Give a compliment. It doesn’t matter who you give it to, a perfect stranger or a friend. Giving compliments can change someone’s outlook on life. Believe me. I wrote blog post on it.
  19. Do something you’ve never done before. Be a kid again. I know I said this already, but it needs repeating (maybe just for me, but maybe for you too).
  20. Travel. Whenever I travel that fills my bucket for a long time. I’m over flowing. I do so many of the above things when I travel, especially when I head out of the country.

 

I think my favorite item on the list (besides travel of course!) is to write a hand written letter to someone that means something to me and tell them something nice. I’m working on doing that at least 20 times before Camp GLP. But first I endeavored to make the cards. I wanted to be more personal. I think this might be a bit of procrastination. But I know it means something when you give something of yourself. Giving your gifts to the world is the best thing you can do. Just remember that you don’t have to be perfect with your gifts. It’s your imperfections that make you, you.

You are not alone, we are all in this together.

YouAreNotAlone-01

I sell prints if you want one. I can change the colors too!

P.S. You’re wonderful. Thanks for reading. You’d be wonderful even if you didn’t read this but you’re here so I thought I’d tell you how much I appreciate you.

 

What world domination means to me

21 Jul

What does World Domination Summit mean to me? Well in 2012 it was a life changing weekend that I will never forget. I have been three times since that weekend. WDS just celebrated 5 years as a “conference”.

The themes of WDS are Community, Adventure and Service. Each of those may mean something different to each attendee as we are all pretty unconventional types. The saying goes, we are trying to live “a remarkable life in a conventional world.” Most of us have non-traditional work or we bring our unconventional mindset to the “corporate” job. To me, we are a bunch of misfits, weirdos and rebels. We buck the system in order to make a better one. We want to leave this world and the people in it better than we found it.

Community

Community to me is the people. They are my tribe. I have never had a tribe that I loved so much before. Even though we are thousands of people, I know that everyone in this tribe is awesome, someone I could talk to and learn from. Someone that would listen to me if I had a problem. Someone that is doing something cool.

Adventure

I love adventure. In fact, I live for adventure. A lot of the members of WDS are travelers. Either they have their own business so they can work from anywhere in the world or they love to travel far and wide when they go on vacation. Chances are pretty good that if you are going somewhere in the world you could run into a WDSer. If they have room, they’ll probably even put you up in their place or find you an awesome local place to stay.

Service

That brings me to the service aspect of WDS. The people in this group are such givers. If you have a problem they’ll help you troubleshoot or connect you with someone that can. They often give you help for free. More of a “pay-it-forward” approach. If you do pay for their services it will be well worth it as I’m sure they’ll go over and above their already awesome contribution. Their work will be great because they love what they do and love that they are working on with you.

If we aren’t giving to each other than we are probably giving it to some other great organizations in the form of monetary donations or community service. The people in this community are just so giving.

#WDS2015 (check out the twitter feed)

This WDS was particularly raw and vulnerable in the main stage talks. I think we were all crying on and off at certain points in time and none of us cared that we were doing so in “public”. We were sharing a moment and that was fantastic. We were listening to someone be real and we loved it.

Volunteering

The past three years I was an attendee but this year I wanted to give back to the community that has given me so much. I wanted to be that helpful person for those first timers or that friendly face to those that knew me. I was thanked so many times. I thanked them right back for coming and being a part of this great space that Chris Guillebeau created for us. I told them I wasn’t working too hard as I was loving what I was doing. Anything I could do to help!

 

Some of my favorite quotables from the weekend:

There is something bigger than yourself. — 

Self confidence grows every time you promise to yourself.

Follow the path. See where it goes. Embrace uncertainty. — 

Don’t trade your voice for things that don’t matter. It’s OK to say no. — 

Loss is what cracks us open. It’s natural and leads to growth. — 

It’s not about what you do but WHY you do it.

Even elephants are born small. —

Adulthood is a process of reinvention.” — 

Abandon your ego and good things will happen. — 

Sometimes you just have to let the tapestry cone completely undone to start again. — 

Love is the only thing that lasts. — 

Don’t make money, make a difference.

When you are an adult, try to be a kid again.

When you see people as just a platform, you eventually stand on them. — 

No label will embody all of your gorgeousness, ever. Get over it. — 

Something I always tell people who wonder why I am a photographer and designer, not just one or the other:

The same principals of design apply to photography. — 

Till next year…keep the magic going!

WDS party

Past inspiration from WDS

WDS 2013

Exploring Oregon’s high desert

7 Jul

Last year, I didn’t travel internationally at all. This year I went to Africa. When I’m not traveling internationally I am trying to see more of the United States and my home state of Oregon. There is so much to see and do in Oregon that my wanderlust is often quenched just by driving an hour or two.

Recently, I went to the desert. Yes, it’s not all trees and rain in Oregon. In fact more than half of the state is pretty dry and desert like. But there is actually a desert depending on your technical definition. This was a recent discovery of mine. Once I found out about the Oregon desert, I obsessed about going. I had to find a time in my schedule to go and I preferred to go soon. I found someone that wanted to go with me and we began planning the trip. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well, as life sometimes does. A few days before the trip my friend was canceling due to a family emergency. So I put a last minute call out to a new friend of mine. She is visiting from Australia and loves photography. You know what? She said yes! The next day we set off on our 7.5 hour road trip.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before: if you want something to happen you just have to ask or as Nike would say, Just Do It. Get outside your comfort zone and go for it.

On the road

We didn’t stop much for pictures until we were almost close to our destination. We just couldn’t help it with these colors and the open road. I love contrasting colors of nature and playing with perspective.

High Desert Road

Then, we came around a bend to this sight (below). We just had to stop for another photo of the storm that we were driving into. I thought, hey, what the heck, my car needs a bath. But first, a photo!

On The Road with Zoe

We drove slowly through the rain storm. We couldn’t even see the road, much less the desert we were looking for. Once the clouds parted my car looked like it went through a car wash, so that was a plus. A few more miles and we were close to our destination, yet we couldn’t figure out how to get on the desert. With some help from our new friend Rose, we found the way.

It’s really super cool to drive out on completely flat land in the middle of nowhere. It was even better to see the remains of the storm pass around the other side of the desert, somehow, leaving it as dry and cracked as ever.

Desert Rainbows

I did feel a bit guilty as my car did leave a small “footprint”. I try so hard to be a good steward to the environment and not leave any marks. However, the desert is about 6 miles wide and 11 miles long so I wasn’t going to walk the whole thing. I really wanted to explore and knew that driving on it was allowed. I thought about running the whole thing but in 100 degree heat I didn’t think that was too advisable without a lot of water.

There is a tiny lake that is left on the desert from winter. You shouldn’t drive too close to it or your car will likely get stuck in the mud. You can see in the photo where the wet desert meets the dry desert. To me, it’s a nice yin and yang.

Desert Yin Yang

This was one of the most phenomenal sunsets I’ve ever seen. It was everywhere. All around. Literally something to look at 360 degrees. I did’t know where to look and when. It was absolute perfection.

Where do you camp in the desert?

Anywhere you want, so why not the middle? That was my choice. If this was my once in a lifetime chance to camp in the middle of a playa I was going to take it and you know what, it was totally worth it. The silence is so silent. The only time I’ve ever been in such a silent place was skydiving, the moment after you open the shoot and before you get close to the ground. You could hear a pin drop from a mile away. In the desert that pin was a mosquito. You could hear them flying at you like no place I’ve ever been to. I felt like I had super hearing.

Long Sunrise Shadows

The light in the morning is absolutely incredible as well. The desert literally glows, sunrise was pretty spectacular.

Some recommendations I have if you decide to visit a desert like this one.

Rent a car. My car hit a lot of bumps on the roads and it got extremely dirty. I don’t just mean the outside either. My car was filled with dust inside out. I’m not even sure how to get the dirt out of all the crevices and upholstery. I tried for two hours and there’s still dust. Sigh…

If you plan for night photography, like we did, you should pick a night that’s not close to a full moon. Oops! Oh well. You can’t have everything you want all at once. It was perfect enough as it was. Plus, that meant we actually got some sleep. The only thing to wake you, was the flapping of your tent when the wind picks up. Otherwise, utter peace and quiet. It was absolute bliss.

Next stop hot springs! Then a few of Oregon’s other wonders. Stay tuned for more on the blog…

In the mean time follow my daily adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

Three scary things about travel

16 Jun

Here are three things that may scare you about traveling

Hint: they aren’t that bad…

Driving overseas

I’m not sure why so many people seem so shocked when I tell them I have rented and driven a car in Europe and the UAE, heck, even Vegas. I just want to set the record straight that it’s pretty easy. For Europe I just had to get an international drivers permit, which was essentially paying AAA to check out my license and give me a small piece of paper to carry with me. It expired a year or so later.

Driving in these other places is actually better than driving at home, in my opinion. I am not a fan of the slow driving, hesitant, gawking driving that most people do in the states. It drives me crazy to know that we are backed up on the freeway because people are staring at a wreck that is not on our side of the freeway. It’s dangerous and you may cause a wreck because of seeing a wreck. It happens all the time.

In other countries the fast lane is truly the fast lane. If you are in it you had better be going fast, or passing someone. I found it liberating to drive 200 km on the autobahn. I also loved weaving in and out of traffic in the UAE. I guess I’m pretty good at offensive driving. Don’t be scared, just do it. Don’t hesitate, that just gets you into trouble.

CarSheep

 

You wouldn’t get this view just driving the highways…take some back roads.

Staying with locals

What’s a good way to save money on vacation and really immerse yourself as a local? Don’t stay in a hotel in the tourist areas. Look at all your options including AirBnB, VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner), B&B’s, hostels or CouchSurfing. If you want to live like a local, then stay like one. I know it may seem scary to stay in someone else’s space or to stay with someone you don’t know but it can also be an incredible experience. Maybe you’ll cook together or they’ll show you around town. To me it’s worth the risk to save some money and have a better experience. I love living like the locals. I love experiencing the city in their eyes.

I’ve only ever had one bad experience when CouchSurfing and it wasn’t because I was scared of the host. The host was amazing! He showed us around the city for two days. It was the conditions of his house that made us uncomfortable. I’m a clean person and I like my accommodations to be that as well. This time the place was really a mess, especially the bathroom. I think with a few quick questions maybe you can find out more about their living conditions before you go. Or have a back up plan. That’s the safest way to travel anyway.

 

Theft

I know this one is a scary one for a lot of people but if you live in fear than you never truly live. Well, that’s my philosophy anyway. I usually do the things that scare me because they scare me.

There are things that you can do to prevent theft in other countries like carrying an RFID cut proof bag and dressing like a local. You just want to blend in and not scream ‘I’m a tourist’. Just watch you back and stay out of bad neighborhoods. To me that’s the same advice that you should live by at home. Just do the same thing when you are abroad. Also check out my packing list, it has some good recommendations for safety like the bag I love and copies of all your important documents.

Stay safe and travel often!

Bags

Read more myths about travel.