Protect Your Magic

ProtectYourMagic_BrynaShields

I stumbled upon this little piece of graffiti while wandering around Brooklyn last summer and while the message resonated with me, I'm also trying to decide what exactly I think it means. In the first place, it can be hard to pinpoint what it is within us that is "magic" - though I truly believe every person has it. In the second place, that magic transforms and morphs as we grow and experience and travel through life. So how might you protect something you can't exactly pinpoint about yourself? I think the answer begins with learning to trust ourselves, to tune into our inner voice, our instinct. It can be really easy to fall out of this habit, in our world full of how-to articles and blogs, self help books, life coaches. It can be really easy to assume that we ourselves must not have the answer, but someone or something else. And of course there is a balance. It's important to reach out to others for guidance and perspective. But ultimately it comes down to learning to use our instinct to distill our actions and decisions to the things that serve our sense of purpose.

Photo from my instagram.

Adventures in Portugal and Spain (Part 2)

After marveling at the rolling beauty of Portugal, we hopped on a plane to Barcelona. It was quite a change from the quaint feeling the Portugal streets offered, as Barcelona is a more metropolitan setting, a gridded & orderly set of streets peppered with the energy of moving traffic and pedestrians.

The most striking part of this city for me was the unusual architecture, as well as the variety. We biked through the streets, learned the stories of Gaudi's work, his life and tragic death, we ate delicious tapas and walked through little winding alleys.

Veggie Garden was a delicious vegetarian restaurant we stumbled upon by accident, and I'm sure glad we did. The place is covered wall to wall in colorful paintings and the food was great!

Wandering through the Boqueria in Barcelona was packed and crazy and colorful and lively. Any type of food/spice/meat/seafood you could imagine was there. It was a little overwhelming with all the people crowding the market, but I reveled in the energy beaming around every corner, and the smells of fresh, sweet fruit.

The end of this whirlwind trip was bittersweet, but as always I walked away from my travels with renewed energy, and uncovered some new truths about myself - what I want and where I want to take my life from here. Travel is all at once exhausting and rejuvenating and I cannot wait to plan more adventures around this crazy world.

Adventures in Portugal and Spain (Part 1)

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Travel has always felt somewhat sacred to me: I adore the energy in airports and train stations, the exhilarating unfamiliarity, uncovering beautiful little secrets of a new city, listening to other languages. It even feels liberating to live out of a single suitcase - the liberation from possessions and junk mail and chores around the house. Ever since my first trip out of the country at 18, I knew I wanted to devote a large part of my life to exploring the world. I was extremely lucky to have seen some of the world's most beautiful sights while I was in college, and I vowed that wouldn't change after I graduated. Of course, the realities of adult life delayed those plans a little longer than I'd hoped. But last Fall, I committed to saving up enough to have another adventure, a long overdue one, and in May I made it to Portugal and Spain with some girlfriends from college.

Our first taste of Portuguese life was in Porto - a city split by the Douro River which leads right into the ocean. The first thing to marvel at when you arrive here are the tiled facades and cast iron balconies of nearly all the buildings. It was truly the most magical thing about exploring this city - charming eye candy to greet you at every corner. The people of Porto also made this place feel warm and welcoming. I often found myself looking up at buildings to find people hanging out at their window sills, taking in the fresh sea air and smiling down at the crowd below. And in case you didn't know, Portuguese is an incredibly sexy language. Huge line dances and dance parties in the middle of the street and strolling through the winding hills to get down to the riverside and riding an old trolley out to the ocean made for a perfect introduction to this beautiful country.

After a few days dancing around Porto, we hopped on a train to Lisbon (that's the train station above!). Lisbon had many of the same architectural charms as Porto, but what made this city especially lovely was all the lettering and street art everywhere. They also had incredible pastries here; be sure to pick up a pastel de nata from Pasteis de Belem if you're ever here.

Cruzes Credo Cafe was by far the best food we had on the trip, and it even tops the list of best meals I've had anywhere. If you're in Lisbon, I'd highly recommend this place, and then wander around the streets and find a good Fado bar.

Next week I'll share some adventures from Barcelona!

Beautiful New York City

In July, I spent a week in New York City - mostly I just wandered aimlessly through the heat that was trapped in between skyscrapers. There is such a grittiness to New York that I'm drawn to - I get a rush from all the people and murals and art and stickups everywhere. Something about being here breathes a new creative energy in me that I haven't been able to find anywhere else.

Looking for Adventure

Jegeor2These photos make me want to hop on the next plane and fly across the ocean to anywhere, just so I can walk around and photograph new and unfamiliar sights. There's nothing like some gorgeous architecture to surprise and delight, especially when large pops are color are involved.Jegeor1

Ocean and Sky

Last week I traveled home to Boston for a few days in search of clarity and direction. It was a much-needed excursion, despite running around all day every day (which tends to happen when you visit home, I've found). Every time I travel I remember how much I love the simplicity it offers: away from all the possessions, the chores, the incessant wave of incoming junk mail, everything from your daily life at home. Somehow being out of your element offers an unparalleled clarity. I returned to Chicago feeling refreshed and focused. Every time I go home I try to make at least one trip to the ocean. There is something so equalizing about standing in front of this grand, powerful body of water. My father and I walked along the shore, listening to the waves, letting our feet sink into the sand, occasionally collecting shells and rocks along the way. Afterwards we ate crunchy fried fish in a small restaurant on the water and I felt nothing but gratitude for the beautiful place where I got to grow up. I live for these simple moments.

Wingaersheek Beach

The Return

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It has been quite a while hasn't it? In all honesty I needed some time to evaluate where I wanted this blog to go, and just my business in general. It has been so exciting and empowering to have full control of the direction of my career as I venture into freelance life, but it is also quite overwhelming at times. There have been so many decisions I did not anticipate needing to contemplate. But despite the stress and occasional panic (ok, more than occasional), it is still the best adventure I've ever chosen.

As part of my business soul-searching, I traveled out west for the first time ever, exploring Los Angeles with a friend who used to live there. Being in California felt dreamy and inspiring and unlocked my mind, which had been feeling cloudy for a few months. I always find it fascinating how refreshed your mind feels from being in an unfamiliar place. The designer in me swooned at all of the gorgeous type found on signage, while the photographer in me went wild over the landscapes and golden sunlight.

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I was surprised at how hard I fell in love with this city - with all of the beautiful plants, the architecture, the art, the ocean, the mountains - it's hard to walk away feeling anything but a little romantic and daydreamy.  

From Detroit with Love

Walking through Detroit can at times feel like moving through a time machine. The streets are lined with art deco and hand painted shop signs, the architecture feels like being in a midcentury movie. Whenever I tell people how much I enjoy traveling to Detroit, I'm often met with rolling eyes or confused expressions. Detroit is not without its problems, but past the abandoned buildings and stretches of destruction there lies so much potential to rebuild. Small businesses are popping up in this city, which is very encouraging to see. Optimism and opportunity are a necessary, powerful combination. It's easy to feel optimistic in a place with less obvious problems; it's much harder to look past all that to find optimism amongst what is seemingly a grim situation. When I look at Detroit, I cannot help but see potential, and feel inspired by a community of people who refuse to give up on this city.

These are some of the images I captured while I was there over Christmas vacation. I wish I had taken more, but it was quite the whirlwind trip. Every day was gorgeous until the day I left, when a blizzard came in, but it's always fun to photograph those, too.