Melting steel to make something beautiful

19 Jul

“In order to make anything beautiful out of steel, you have to melt it first.” Bikram Choudhury
The first Bikram Yoga studio was in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. I knew there was a reason I was drawn to it. I love that neighborhood.

Today was my third class in as many days. I couldn’t even think about blogging yesterday so here we are today. Some classes will be easier than others, and yesterday’s class was a killer. It’s been about 95 and humid in New York, and the room was unforgiving. I think I was on my mat for most of the second half of class.

During class today I was brought back to the very first Bikram class I ever took. A friend of mine in Minnesota that I worked with was opening this yoga studio and she would always tell me how it is so different. I had taken yoga in the past at different gyms and yoga centers, but I wasn’t that thrilled about it. I didn’t want to hear the affirmations or hear soothing music while I bent around in uncomfortable poses. And-I didn’t feel all that different after. She opened in 2006, and after some coaxing, I went to class. She told me to come every day for 5 days and my life would be changed. I went for 5 days. She was right. If you’re in St. Paul, you should stop by her studio and say hello to Sarah.

Now my practice is about remembering why it changed my life in the first place. 2006 wasn’t that great of a year for me, if I recall. This year has had it’s ups and downs, but in a lot of ways, it’s similar. I have had some major life changes, like I did in 2006, and Bikram helped me sort it out then. Maybe someday I’ll get into all of that, but for now that’s all you get. I need to go drink some more water.

I took some measurements of myself on the first day-and from my calculations I have about 23 inches total around my body that I would like to shed. Don’t worry-I’m not trying to have a 13 inch waist, this is all around my body total. To spare myself the embarrassment of listing my measurements for the world-I’ll keep you posted in total inches. Maybe as this continues and I get braver, I’ll let you in on the good bits.


The Beginning of my #30daysofyoga challenge

17 Jul

Wow. I needed that.

Today was the first day of Bikram yoga for me in about a year. It’s also been almost a year since I moved to New York. I think I’ve been trying so hard to get a grip on life here that I’ve sort of lost my grip on myself and my body.

Don’t get me wrong; things on the outside are going relatively great. I have an apartment in a good neighborhood, I met a great guy here who supports me, and I am on the cusp of starting my career. (It will happen soon. I just know it.)

Even with all that good stuff happening, the strain of just figuring out how to do your laundry and find groceries has taken a toll on my body. It can be so stressful to live and function in New York that I’ve found myself withdrawing from the things that I used to like. I’m not big on going out these days and I haven’t met very many new people in New York. I find it really hard to make connections with people here. And, I rarely ride my bike-this is the one that really gets to me. Biking in Manhattan just seems like too big of a risk for me most days. Because of that, I’ve slowly let myself get out of shape, which is really bumming me out. Now is as good a time as any to change that.

As a challenge to myself I’m going to try to go every day for 30 days. Last year it was 30 Days of Biking that re-taught me how fun a bicycle could be and got me moving around again. I won’t say that I was in THAT great of shape last summer, but at least I was out and sweating a little. This summer it will be 30 Day of Yoga. I will be tweeting and posting to this blog as much as I can. I even found another person on Twitter, @shannondakin, who is starting #30daysofyoga in the UK tomorrow. Hooray!

So today was the first day. I went to the open house at the Bikram Yoga LES studio and was in a room with more people doing yoga than I ever have been. The energy of the studio was great, even though the noise of the cabs and bars outside were distracting during the first few minutes. Tomorrow I won’t sit by an open window. Towards the end of class I didn’t even feel like I was in New York still. My mind felt clear and I was happy. The studio was sunny and welcoming and my fellow classmates seemed excited to be there. I am looking forward to go back tomorrow. Hopefully my muscles will agree with me, but I have a feeling I’m going to be really sore tomorrow morning. I haven’t decided if I will post photos of my progress along the way, but anything can happen. Right now my goal is just to go back tomorrow.

Like they say at Bikram Yoga LES: It won’t be easy, but it is simple.

Autumn in New York

15 Nov

The weather has been beautiful so I’ve been taking some photos.
First up are the Union Square Greenmarket, then some fun in Central Park. Last is the Trinity Cemetery in Harlem. It was probably the coolest thing I have done so far. I took about 200 photos, but these were my favorites. I’m still trying to get on the Flickr bandwagon. (yes, I know.) I’ll let you know when I do.


Some are experiments with light. Some I overexposed, then played with the exposure in Photoshop. Some are just plain old pictures. All are things I thought were beautiful. Click on the images to see them up close.

MOMA and Google’s Creative Sandbox

3 Nov

In a place like New York, there is never a shortage of events to go to. I may die from exhaustion, but damn it, I’m gonna see everything.

Last Wednesday Mesu and I went to MOMA to wander around. I totally liked how she displayed the photos-so thanks for letting me copy you, Mesu. Imitation is flattery right?

There was a really great exhibit of the modern kitchen, starting from about 1880 until 1980. Seeing as how I love to spend time in the kitchen and think that the design of everyday objects is beautiful, it goes unsaid that I will be visiting again. There’s something so comforting about seeing objects you love in a museum. Who knew a coffee mug could make a person so happy? (well, wait. I knew that already, on so many levels.)

On Thursday night I went to the Google Creative Sandbox. Basically, they invited creatives from all over the city to play with all the Google toys we could. Games like HTML5 vs. Flash, a Google photo booth and open bars with mini hot dogs-what creative wouldn’t be satisfied? That covers all of our basic needs right? Booze, junk food and nerdery? Check, check, and check.

Google wanted to get us excited about the new Google TV. I tried to watch the demo-but it was so loud it was hard to hear. And, honestly, the chances of me buying a TV in the near future are slim. The internet is my Google TV.

There was this cool site I didn’t know about-where you can make your own Google Search story. Have some fun and be sure to show me. I love a story.

Until we speak again…

Plastic and the City

28 Oct

Things are great here. Really really great. The city has the most amazing energy, people are alive (mostly) and I killed 3 mosquitos last night. This didn’t save me from waking up with a few new bites, but hey. It’s a step.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the greatness of my life right now that I feel like I can do anything. Like drink until 4 in the morning. Or start smoking again. Or eat out for lunch every single day and not think that it will eventually catch up with me. I can see how people get caught up in the craziness of things and stop remembering what is really important: Friends. And Family. And being good to each other and our space.

This brings me to my next point. The plastic bag situation here is crazy. OUT OF CONTROL crazy. Because of my current living situation, I am somewhat forced to eat out more than I would like to, so I notice the consumption that I and others around me participate in.

For example: Yesterday I went to get a salad at this place that makes them in front of you. You choose the greens, which you pick up out of a cooler, they are in a plastic tub, then you give them to the salad maker, and he mixes your lunch.  Bring it to the counter, they automatically put it in a plastic bag for you, and shove plastic forks, knives, napkins, and send you on your way. About half of the people just walk over to the seating area, unwrap the plastic bags and eat it FOUR FEET AWAY. This hardly constitutes the need for a bag. Yesterday I told the girl at the counter that I didn’t need the bag, so she looks at me-very confused-and takes my salad out of the bag. She then puts a NEW BAG inside what was going to be my bag-for the next person. I’m assuming this was because the plastic from my salad touched the inside of the first bag. Uh-oh. Don’t want any germs or anything.

I’m sorry. It’s not her fault. It’s not really the people who walk a few feet only to throw the just used plastic bag away, minutes after using it. It’s all of our faults for letting it get this bad.

I’ve got more. But for today, I don’t need a bag, thank you.

YouTube Play at the Guggenheim

27 Oct

On Friday night I went with my partner at the PR firm, Mesu, to YouTube Play at the Guggenheim. (She thought it was freezing. This amused me to no end. It was 65F.)

YouTube Play celebrated the nature of video production as an art form today. They took artistic video submissions from anyone, anywhere, and a panel of  judges decided on the top 25 artistic videos on YouTube. You can see the winners here. (I love that Die Antwoord is on the list. This song will forever remind me of Ad School in Minneapolis and one of my classmates, Thom. If you haven’t checked them out yet, in all their bizarre glory, you really should. I won’t fault you for not finishing this post. They are way more interesting than me.)

To celebrate the event, there was a projection on the outside of the Guggenheim-transforming it into its own piece of YouTube. That’s the reason why I wanted to go-I’m sort of obsessed with these projections. To get to see one live was really cool.

Here’s what I captured from my iPhone. Not too bad for a phone.

There was a beautiful full moon right above the museum. They must have planned it.

One of the things that Mesu remarked on was the lack of meaning in the projection. Granted, they could have done more with it than just have it be a flashy After Effects demonstration, but I still thought it was cool. I watched the people around me-and they all loved what was happening. People don’t get to see these sorts of things every day, and it was interesting to see the reaction of the crowd. Heads turned up, smiles on faces, children and dogs in the background.

That’s why we do what we do right? To elicit a reaction? I know that going into advertising, we are supposed to compel people to take action. This wasn’t advertising, but observing reaction and recreating the cause is part of what I want to get really good at. What makes people react? How do they look? How can I make them get that feeling? How can I elicit a response? It’s like I’m creating a little emotion toy box. Put all the little reactions and emotions in this toy box so you can take them out to play with later.

This is my favorite of the winners:

We’ll talk soon, I’m certain. (word of the day: elicit.)

Advertising or Social Engineering?

21 Oct

Watch this video. Cool, right?

Then tell me: does it matter if an advertisement meets the bottom line anymore? Does it have to make sense?

So many times I will find things that I think are interesting in my random surfing. Increasingly, when I get done watching, downloading, listening, I realize it’s either sponsored by a brand or created FOR a brand. It may not have anything to do with the brand itself, but somehow the name is tied. Does this mean I’m going to buy more of whatever brand is sponsoring? Does it need to mean that?

Brands are trying to socially engineer experiences more and more. Does this actually make people want to buy more Honda’s, as seen in the really cool video above? Would you buy a Honda because of this video? What if you saw it in person? Does it even matter?

At a recent lecture from Paul Collins, a Group Creative Director from AKQA New York, he told us that ads don’t need to make sense anymore. When you are trying to sell ideas to a client, does this work?


Tell me. Tell me everything you know. And everything you don’t know too. We’ll learn together.

Thoughts and observations, part 2

19 Oct

So, it’s been two weeks, give or take, and things are getting a little easier. Of course, by remarking on this, I realize that things will be really hard for the next few days. Just to be spiteful.


Things that are not so great:

1. From what I can gather, Target is the second coming to most New Yorkers. In a place where you can get just about anything from a local business, Target is the place that people are loving. That and Trader Joe’s. I’m sure there are locavores out there, I just have yet to find them.

2. People do not like bikers in general, from what I can tell so far. I’m sure there is a bike community, but I haven’t found it yet. The cabs will try to kill you, the people in Brooklyn will yell out the window at you and don’t even get me started about biking in the Hasidic neighborhoods. I’m immoral there. (see this) Good thing my helmet arrived the other day.

3. I have more mosquito bites than I ever have had in Minnesota. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I had ONE in Minnesota. At last count, it was 16.

4. No one talks to each other on the subway. You can be standing 4 inches from someone’s face, and they won’t make eye contact or even act like you are there. I don’t want a dissertation, but sometimes a smile is nice.

5. I get lost on the subway. A lot. Usually this means I see strange things more often than I would like. Remind me to tell you about the naked guy. Or the pushy panhandlers. Or the girl who got mugged. or…


Things that are more amazing than you can even imagine:

1. When you’re just walking down the street and suddenly  see the Empire State lit in a new color-it’s amazingly beautiful. Every time it happens I just stop and stare. I can see it from my apartment window too. Anyone who tells you Brooklyn isn’t cool has never been there.

2. You can drop off your dirty clothes and someone will wash, dry and fold them for you. My clothes are now folded for the first time ever, in some cases.

3. The New York Public Library is possibly the coolest place I’ve been to. Ever. And not just because I can replay the Sex and the City scene in my head when Big pulls up and then drives away down 5th Avenue. (well, sort of. I will never admit that to you in person though.)

4. If you are craving a bowl of gluten-free noodles with pesto, broccoli and chevre, you can look it up on the internet, order it and get it delivered. If you’re not in Brooklyn, that is.

5. There is a guy here called the Sandwich Dealer. He has a cell phone that you text your order too, and he will text you back what corner to meet him. Just like a drug dealer, but with grilled cheeses.

6. It feels really good to go to a museum and realize that you have seen most of what is in it. I guess I’m not as small-town as I think sometimes. The trick is to see it with new eyes. I’m working on that part, as usual. New eyes, new eyes. The plight of the art director.

7. On any given night you can find multiple things you want to do or see. This is the hard part. Deciding has never been my strong suit. Now, if only I didn’t get lost on the subway so often…









Thoughts and observations upon arriving in New York City

6 Oct

Today is Day 5. I arrived on Saturday evening to New York City, found my way to my apartment, waited on the stoop with my current life possessions for my friend to show up with the keys and opened the door to a new life.

A few things I have noticed so far:

1. My neighborhood is noisy. People yell down the street and it’s just like having a conversation right next to the person they are talking to.

2. After 11 PM, you can still get food and coffee here. I know, novel idea.

3. I walk slower than everyone else. I have been trying to pick up the pace-just so I don’t look like so much of a tourist. The problem is I’m not really in a hurry. Ever.

4. The subway is really hot. You dress for the weather, then when you get underground, you peel off layers-or just suffer through it. So far I’ve arrived at my destinations looking quite melted. I have to get the hang of layering.

5. I haven’t ridden a bike in a week. This is the longest stretch I have gone since April. There are a few places I am going to check out this weekend, so hopefully by next week I will have some new stories about traveling in the city by bicycle. (as if I wouldn’t have anything to say otherwise.)

6. Everyone talks in abbreviated blurts-unless you ask how they are. Then they talk for a really long time. Ask them how to get to the subway though, and you get something totally different. This is only on the street though. Everyone in other spaces acts like people everywhere else. Sort of.

OK-more later. And an update on my fancy internship at the largest PR firm in the world.


11 May

I’m not moving.

Not for now at least. I thought I should tell you.

Here’s why:

I went on a mini-vacation to the Sunshine State with my mom-visited the school, ate lots of good food, did the tourist stuff, did some regular stuff–and something felt wrong. I was homesick. Like really homesick. I wanted my bike and my apartment and my friends and my shoes and..well, Minnesota. Yes. There. I said it. I wanted Minnesota.

The school was fine-but there are no real clear benefits to attending Miami Ad School in San Francisco vs. Minneapolis. I think it’s even better for me here, since advertising is all about connections. I have been working hard on making these connections in all parts of my life and I’m just not sure that giving it all up at 33 is worth it to move across the country to start over. Without a job and no network to rely on for help finding a job.


I’m a Libra. That should explain some of my indecision.