Florida, New York City, photographs, pictures, travel

Inspired: Pictures from my trip down the East Coast from New York to Florida

I planned to Twitter and Instagram my way down the East Coast as I made the move from New York City to Florida. Fate intervened and long story short, my phone was stolen at JFK airport on my last day in New York. Because I didn’t have time to get a new phone before I left, I made the trip without one. I was forced to enjoy the scenery and be in the moment for over 1200 miles of our beautiful country. It was wonderful to disconnect from my device and connect with the world, even for someone like me who loves technology.

I was able to capture a few pictures with my digital camera. Here are some highlights (literally) from the road!

dreams, history, photographs, pictures, writing

Beautiful: I Dream About Recording History As It Happens

From Pinterest

Yesterday I sat up in bed before my early alarm, grabbed by iPad, and wrote down this post as it gushed into my brain:

“Snap your pictures. Get down these lines of text. Record history as it happens. Some day you’ll need this to see how far you’ve come, to bring you comfort when you feel like you still have so far to go, when you feel like everything is lost.

Time is a plastic surgeon. It does funny things to us, to our memory of yesterday. And all the yesterdays that came before. It covers the bumps and bruises and scrapes. It dulls the pain. It sands the rough edges and rounds out the sharp and jagged corners that were so hard to navigate. It makes everything soft. When we record our days as they happen, when we literally chart our experience, we get the real story.

And we need the real story. We need to remember what we’ve been through so we can fully appreciate where we are and all of the people who made the journey possible.”

I’m not sure where this came from, but I’m sure glad these words and the ideas they convey arrived.

photographs, pictures, social media, social media creation

My Social Media Strategy: Pinterest and Instagram

From Pinterest (of course!)
From Pinterest (of course!)

You oughta be in pictures, and that includes on social media. My Pinterest account is christanyc. My Instagram account is onefineyogi. These channels are important to me for one main reason: 65% of the population is composed of visual learners so it pays to learn how to communicate with pictures. I am not a naturally visual personal. I am one of the oddballs who is almost entirely an auditory learner so communicating in visuals is very difficult for me. Pinterest and Instagram have greatly enhanced my visual abilities and they are fun to use. This is the big difference between Instagram and Pinterest for me: most of my Pinterest pins are pictures that other people have taken that I find interesting and Instagram is composed of photos I take. 

Think of this as a visual bulletin board that is neatly organized by topics that you choose. I’ve created boards that include Inspirational Words, Healthy Food, and Yoga. Some key points:

  • You can either upload images you’ve created or you can upload images from just about any website. When you upload from a website, you can click the uploaded image on your board and it will take you to the site where you found it. I mostly use this latter type of pin to help me bookmark websites that I want to be able to quickly refer to for recipes, visual inspiration, and new product ideas.
  • I also frequently pin pictures and quotations that I want to use for future blog posts and for the Compass Yoga and One Fine Yogi Facebook pages.
  • I use Pinterest to say hello to friends whom I share interests with (Hi, Sharni!) and to trade ideas back and forth with my sister, Weez, who is even more passionate about Pinterest than I am!
  • I am not too focused (yet) on building a following or following a lot of people as I mostly use it for my own reference and utilize keyword searches to find images that relate to what I need. As I begin to make more of my own products within my business, I expect that will change.

I was very late to the game on Instagram, mostly because I was a bit freaked out when Facebook stated they would begin selling Instagram images for their own profit with no attribution to the people who created the images. After many people, some quite famous, abandoned and closed their accounts, Facebook quickly changed its tune.

I got into it about 2 months ago because it did seem like a fun platform to use and I wanted to share with the world more of the pictures I actually take. (Admittedly, I have just a *few* photos of my adorable pup Phineas!) It’s kind of like a visual diary of places I go and things I see. I mostly use Instagram mostly for fun and not much for work, but that could change in the future as I get more familiar with the platform and Facebook provides new functionality.

Putting it together
With these two platforms, I’m really trying to improve my visual thinking and visual explanation skills. So far, it’s been fun to play around with these and I have seen vast improvements in my design work as I spend more time with visual content. If you use these platforms, I’d love to hear what they’ve done for you!

adventure, blog, photographs, pictures, writing

Beautiful: My Blog is Going on Summer Vacation, Too

From Pinterest

Occasionally, a leopard can change its spots. A Christa in New York can become a Christa in Los Angeles, at least for a little while. We can break patterns. We can do things differently. We can evolve.

Last week, my friends Susan and Richard shared a post from the New York Times that discussed how technology is helping us connect and leaving us feeling lonely. We get absorbed into our screens at the expense of looking people in the eye. I’ve fought hard against the argument that all of our connecting is causing us to become disconnected but I couldn’t refute the points made by the post’s author, Jonathan Safran Foer.

Have I fallen victim to this trend? Maybe. And that answer scares me. This summer I’m going to spend more time connecting, less time connected. This blog will take on a different shape to support that effort so that I can spend more time in the world and more time on my personal writing projects. As someone who thinks in words, I’m trying to improve my visual skills and this blog will support that goal, too. I’m going to attempt to chart my summer in pictures with a couple of lines of text thrown in to record the a-ha moments. The joy. The happiness. The peace. The clarity. The adventure. The world as I see it with my eyes and not through the filters of online information.

Each day, I’ll try to post one photo that perfectly captures what that day means to me. Some will be pictures I take. Some will be pictures I find. And it’s all TBD…

art, beauty, books, creative, creative process, creativity, illustration, photographs, pictures, technology

Beautiful: Creating Photos and Art with The Book of GIMP

bookofgimpIt’s more than a book; it’s a tome. Through No Starch Press, Olivier Lecarme and Karine Delvare just published The Book of GIMP, a complete and comprehensive guide on GIMP, a free open-source software program that successfully rivals pricey options like Adobe Photoshop. Visual design software can be intimidating because it has so many bells and whistles, as well as its own vocabulary that is foreign to people just getting started in design. Lecarme and Delvare demystify GIMP without dumbing it down in any way.

The book begins with a 24-page quick start guide that orients new users to GIMP. If you’re already familiar with the software and need help with specific functionality, skip to any one of the well-organized chapters to get in-depth knowledge on photo retouching, drawing and illustration, logo creation, composite photography, animation, and web design.

This book takes you through each area progressing from basics to advanced functionality, providing descriptive screenshots and step-by-step guidance. The mini-lessons and exercises in each chapter build upon one another so they are ideal for someone who just wants to complete a quick task or for someone who wants to know all of the ins and outs of GIMP’s many capabilities.

The reference section and appendices go into deep detail on settings and tools that are available to hone your masterpieces. It even has a chapter on the physiology of vision! And if that’s not enough for you, there’s always the section of additional readings, tutorials, related projects, and connections to the global GIMP user community.

Whether you’re just getting started in visual design or are a seasoned expert, The Book of GIMP is the best creative companion for all of your efforts to Make Something Beautiful.

art, entrepreneurship, photographs, pictures, yoga

Leap: My Yoga Photo Shoot with Photographer Michael Vito of Third Place Media

Washington Square Park, New York City. Photo by Michael Vito.

Michael Vito, photographer and Founder of Third Place Media, recently did a yoga photo shoot with me in Washington Square Park in New York City. We had a blast together and I wanted to share the results with you a) because I love them and b) because you should get on Michael’s calendar if you’re looking for top notch photos, yoga or otherwise. Click here to view the album.

In the coming weeks, Michael will be putting together a guest post for this blog to explain how he, too, recently made the leap into a freelance life. Let’s hear it for another brave soul who said, “Geronimo!”, and never looked back.

art, photographs, pictures

Leap: Chris Hondros – The Passion and Genius of a Photojournalist Lost

Chris Hondros with his cameras at work in the field

On Friday night, I went to a photo exhibit with my friend, Amy. Conflict Zone showcases the work of wartime photojournalists, pulled together to honor Chris Hondros, a photojournalist who was killed by a mortar round in Libya in April 2011. Chris was killed in the same incident that took the life of Tim Hetherington, another brilliant photojournalist.

The exhibit is open until February 17th at the New York City Fire Museum and the images are as beautiful as they are haunting. It’s the work of Chris Hondros and so many others like him, who have tirelessly recorded the images of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by placing themselves in harm’s way, that have made the war real for us. Unlike during the World Wars and Vietnam, it would have been easy for us to ignore the wars in favor of our own daily concerns. After all, these wars raged on thousands of miles away on lands that few of us will ever see. Unless we were directly linked to the war effort through a loved one serving in the military, we didn’t feel the direct impact of the war all that much.

Except of course when a face was put to the effort, and that face was shown to us through the work of photojournalists. They wouldn’t let us ignore exactly what was happening. We were forced to confront that the vast majority of Iraqis and Afghans are incredibly similar to us and they wanted peace to. We were forced to recognize that “the troops” were composed of someone’s sons, daughters, spouses, friends, brothers, and sisters. Chris saw to it; he kept us honest and aware.

We owe Chris and the community of journalism an enormous debt for their service, and the only way to repay it is to pursue our own passions with the same fervor that they pursue theirs. Now that Chris is gone, his work is his legacy, just as our work will be our legacy when we’re gone. Make it matter.

art, inspiration, photographs, pictures

Leap: In Love with Pinterest, a Celebration of Beauty in Images

The Lantern Festival, Honolulu, Hawaii from...Pinterest

I found my way to Pinterest through a blog friend labyrinth.

My friend Phyllis started a new blog, The Carb Lover Lady. Phyllis and I are bloggy friends after I asked to interview her back in 2009 for my Examiner column on entrepreneurship. Phyllis recently featured a recipe for Greek Yogurt Banana Bread on her blog from Ingredients, Inc., the site of Alison Lewis, a health expert. (By the way, I’ve started practicing my baking again thanks to the encouragement of MJ, another bloggy friend and great supporter of my writing and life.)

Alison uses Pinterest to find a lot of the images on her site and they’re stunning. The one of the banana bread made my mouth water so I toddled on over to find where photo like this can be found online. And then I went down the rabbit hole. I was blown away by the beauty and breadth of the images.

Pinterest is a site of curated images by people like you and me. Their mission is to build a community of people who share images they love. As my friend Amanda (another friend I met through blogging) said, “Fun to take a break from text and live with images for a while.” My friend Kelly pins images of houses she dreams of living in. And that’s the real genius of the site: like life, it’s what you make of it.

Above all, Pinterest is a wonderful reminder of all the beauty that this world holds, all the inspiration that’s out there if only we search for it and share it. Hop on over and check out the images that are making me smile – click here.

art, blogging, pictures, writing

Beginning: My Tumblr Blog – Born into Color

Becoming a storyboard artist
I’ve been trying to find the right channel to share my love for design and creative living in a visual way. This blog is really meant more for my writing. This blog is a storyteller’s project, and while a picture can be worth a thousand words, pictures need their own space. I went looking for a place online that was easy to update on the go, that I could largely populate from my mobile phone as I’m out in the world, living it up. In short, I needed a channel to document my usual shenanigans and let them really shine.

Tumblr gets my vote
Enter Tumblr, a ridiculously user-friendly microblogging service that lives somewhere between mainstream blogging and Twitter. Post a quote, link, picture, video, audio clip, or some short text (perhaps slightly longer than 140 characters.) The mobile app has all kinds of features that are easy to use and make posting a cinch. I’m giddy just thinking about this new online adventure. I will post whenever I see or experience something really interesting that I want to share but that doesn’t necessarily warrant a full written post on this blog.

Pictures make a better brain
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about how to build a better brain. There’s a lot of evidence for visual learners to try to improve their auditory skills and for auditory learners to try to improve their visual skills. I am part of the latter group – the weird ones. (Seriously – only 10% of people are auditory learners.) We’re the people who never forget a conversation or something we read, through are highly unlikely to remember what shirt we wore yesterday. I think in words, not pictures. Temple Grandin inspired me to try to make pictures a bigger part of my life. And I’d always like to find ways to boost my brainpower.

Born into Color is born

So here we go – the visual storyteller in me finally gets the chance to have her say in pictures. The title of my blog “Born into Color” is inspired by a line from a poem by Rumi entitled “Quietness”. Appropriate for a girl trying to use fewer words and more pictures. This is my attempt to “Become the Sky. Escape. Walk outside like someone suddenly born into color.” Isn’t that image beautiful – to imagine that every time I set foot outside my home I’m suddenly transformed by the world around me, like a black and white film suddenly brought to life by color.

I’ll be updating the Born into Color regularly while I am at SXSW. I’ll be presenting Taming the Monkey Mind: Yoga and Creative Focus and teaching yoga. If you’re going to be in Austin, let me know so we can meet up! Follow Born into Color by clicking here.

art, environment, green, photographs, pictures

Picture of the Year

The Today Show recently ran a contest to determine the “picture of the year”. There were images of Obama, Michael Phelps, moving photos of conflicts around the world. But the theme that ultimately won out was nature. 3 of the top 5 photos chosen by viewers depicted acts of nature around the world, the top one being of a lightning storm over a volcano in Southern Chile. The photo is dramatic – so much so that you’d think it was doctored up or contrived. Rest assured, it is real and awe-inspiring. It was taken by photographer Carlos Gutierrez for the Patagonia Press. 

I think about the environment a lot, its beauty and power. I used to work for an environmental nonprofit and it is one of the main causes I donate to. I read extensively on the topic and am constantly working to lower my carbon footprint. I am certainly a green consumer and firmly believe that there are enormous public health implications if we do not do everything we can to protect our natural world. I am so pleased that Mr. Gutierrez’s photo won – it shows that I am not alone in being inspired by nature, not by a long-shot. Of all the photos that were taken in this historic year, nature reigned supreme in inspiring people around the world.
I hope 2009 will be the year when green energy and environmental conservation takes center stage – in this country as well as in other countries around the world. I hope we put policies and regulations in place that halt the rapid disappearance of species and habitat. I hope that more people will be willing to pay a bit more now for green products rather than pay dearly for the consequences of not protecting the environment in years to come. As a society, I’d like to see us protect and treasure life.

There is a song that John Denver sings on the Muppet Christmas album that is one of my favorites. It’s about a little tree named Alfie. At the end of the song, John communicates one small request from Alfie, and whenever I hear it I get a little bit choked up. It bears repeating. “You see life is a very special kind of thing. And not just for a chosen few, but for every living, breathing thing, not just me and you. So in your Christmas prayers this year, Alfie asked me if I’d ask you to say a prayer for the wind, and the water, and the wood, and those who live there, too.” That’s a request I’m very happy to fill.