31.7.14

Songs that Make You Fall in Love

Let me set the scene: your friend meets you for coffee one morning, and as you're catching up, they off-handedly mention a new band they really like. You remark that you haven't heard of them before, could they write it down? Your friend tears off a piece of their napkin and jots down the name of the thusly unknown [to you] band. As you head home, you make note to listen to the band when you get a chance.
A few weeks go by, and as you're cleaning out your purse to make room for your [new book, makeup bag, fancy planner], a crumpled up napkin falls out. You pick it up, and remember your coffee date and the music you discussed therein. You realize you've forgotten completely about the band you made note of remembering, and head straight to your laptop to look them up, as you are long overdue. You do a quick search of their history, find a few of their favorite, songs and hit 'play' to the first. And it hits you. 
Something about this song is just... perfect. The melody, the lyrics, the skillful plucking, something about it is too good to quit. Suddenly, it's all you want to listen to. You memorize the lyrics, pulling them through your head non-stop as you go through your day. Constantly you mention this song or the artist responsible for it to everyone you meet; it's simply too perfect not to share. 
This song has created or replicated the feeling of being in love. It's all you can think about, and that's all you want. Your play count rises higher and higher as the days go by, but you just can't get that song off your mind. 

I know I can't be the only person who has fallen in love with a song before. Not just 'enjoyed' or 'loved' a song (although I do that often enough), but truly gone head over heels for a song or album. While this might not be the exact scenario to play out, every once in a while I find myself in a position in which a song enters my life, and something about it is perfect for that time. It's not always easy to pinpoint what, but it always makes a strong impact on me. Like reading the closing scene to a riveting book, music can [and should] induce a feeling of excitement and longing in you. 

Ok, pause. Before you start thinking 'man, this girl sounds a bit cuckoo...' and start singing 'Taylor and [insert song here] sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G", hear me out. Music is moving, and while not everyone may have fallen in love with a song before, I'm making it my mission to make sure they do. 
If you can't relate to my [rambling] example, I would love to change that for you.

Without further ado, here are a few songs that I've truly fallen in love with. For some reason or another, each of these songs has hit me in a certain way and some time in my life, and made them unforgettable. 75% of the time it is related to their lyrics, so I highly suggest looking them up if you're intrigued.


Civilian - by Wye Oak

Grounds for Divorce - by Elbow

Comfort Me- by Feist

To Be Alone - by Hozier

What the Water Gave Me - by Florence 

Her Morning Elegance - by Oren Lavie

Heavy Feet - by Local Natives


What are some songs you've fallen in love with?



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30.7.14

Road Trip Video

I've never made a 'movie' style video before, but I knew before we left our our road trip that I wanted to have video documentation of it. I brought my little point-and-shoot camera which has video capability, and aimed to take clips of our adventures throughout our trip.
Unfortunately, my camera got misplaced in the tornado of dirty clothes and piles of who-knows-what in my back seat after the second week of our trip.
So, the video really only shows our trip through South Dakota... But still. I'm glad we did it, and it gives a taste of the things we saw :)

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28.7.14

The Ins- and Outs- of a Successful Long Distance Relationship

Photo (of Phil and I) by Hannah Fine Photography 

So, if I haven't made it clear on here yet, I'm in a long-distance relationship. Very long distance. I live in Washington State, and he lives in Washington DC. Approximately 3,000 miles apart.
In fact, we've been long-distance for just over a year. A year of too few trips, too many Skype calls, and too many lonely days binge eating chocolate while watching The X-Files.
Ignore that last one.
I dropped Phil at the airport last week, so I've spent the last several days moping around my house [read, ignoring my mounting pile of laundry and baking allllll the time. Queen of comfort food over here] and just making myself miserable out of loneliness.
Is this the best solution to my problem? No.
In fact, I know better. I'm basically a giant masochistic lonely heart who likes to ignore good advice.
But I won't let that happen to you. Listen to me: you can survive - and thrive - in a long-distance relationship.
When I tell people that, yes, I have a boyfriend, and no, he doesn't live here, in fact he lives 3,000 miles away, the response 95% of the time is "wow, isn't that hard?"
Yes, it is hard. But is it worth it? Of course.
I think the strongest testament you can give to the importance and health of a relationship is maintaining it long distance. If you can make it a few months, a year, several years, in a relationship filled with trust, commitment, and communication, you've demonstrated that the relationship is definitely worthwhile.
Also: lots of travelers are in long distance relationships.
There are several reasons for this, but often they include:
A) You met your significant other while traveling abroad (as was my case)
B) Travel is a priority for you, so you often leave your significant other for international adventures.
C) You discover your love of travel after entering into a serious relationship, and decide to move internationally to follow said love.

Regardless of the reason, the outcome is often the same. You are apart from your loved-one, you're sad and lonely, and you daydream about seeing them. All. The. Time.
Well hold on darling, because I can help. I've learned the ins-and-outs of this game, and I feel like I'm pretty good at it now.

FIRST UP: Reasons Why Long Distance Is Better Than Close Quarters
Yes, you heard me right. There are ways in which being in a long distance relationship is better than living near-to or with your significant other.

Your communication skills rock. A few recent studies have shown that people in long-distance relationships are better at communicating their emotions, share more intimate interactions, and communicate more overall with their partners than those in live-near/in relationships. That's because one of the only things you get when in a long-distance relationship, is communication. Whether it's Skype, email, or hand-written love notes, it's likely that you're better at talking to your partner long-distance than when you live near them. As a result, post-long-distance you'll be better at communicating in person, too.

Your affection is grounded in the other person's personality. Have you ever seen a couple (or even just 'close' friends) that only seem to like each other because of the stuff they do together? People are quick to assume that because someone is adventurous or fun to kiss, that they're in love. When you're long distance, you don't get those things. You don't get to hold hands, to go on dates, or to do 'normal' couple things. As a result, you are left only with what the other person has to offer emotionally and mentally. That means that you like them for who they are, not what they do (how cliche, haha). So I might have fun going on dates, but I also know that this person emotionally balances me too.

You value your time together more. Do you still get butterflies seeing your significant other, after a year or more of being together? I do. (If Phil's reading this right now, he's rolling his eyes, haha). Thing is, when you don't get to see someone every day, the time you do have is 537292x more special, and you look forward to it all the time. Little things are more meaningful, and you treasure even trips to the grocery store. Nothing seems boring, because you get to be with that other person. This carries on even after you've moved near/in with that person, because you remember what it was like to only see them every three months. This is just like how every time I eat a cupcake, I treasure it because I know that I went a whole year without cupcakes in Egypt, and it was torture. (I did just equate a serious relationship to eating a cupcake).

You get to know each other better/faster. When all you can do is talk, you end up getting a good grasp of what the other person is truly like, where their interests lie, and all sorts of little things you might not pick up on if you were watching a movie together or out with friends. That's not to say that you can't understand someone as well if you live near them, but you tend to understand them better, faster, when you're long distance. This is probably a result of being good communicators, as aforementioned.

Now, with all that said, being long distance isn't all bread and roses. (Is that even an idiom? did I make that up? I can't remember. I'm losing my mind. haha). It's really hard, and some days it really sucks. After doing it for a year though, I've figured out some ways to make it better.



SECOND DOWN: Ways to Make Long Distance Fun and Successful
Do these things in a regular or long distance relationship, and I guarantee it'll flourish.

Don't limit what you do because your partner isn't around.  This one can be hard to do. For me, the season of 'couple-y things' is fall/winter. Everyone is out walking around in the snow or the leaves, looking at holiday decorations, cooking and baking together, coming home to cuddle up next to a fire. Yeah, rough if you're not with your significant other. However, you know what will make you feel like a giant mouldering pumpkin? Not doing things you love just because your significant other isn't around to experience them with you. You'll never be happy if you rely on your partner for doing fun, exciting things. The solution? Do them by yourself (without moping) or plan get-together's with friends. Plan lots of day-trips and outings that you can enjoy on your own, without constantly reminding yourself of how alone you are. Look at your trips as mini-vacations, not as sad events lacking a certain someone.

Don't rely on your partner to be happy. This branches off the aforementioned tip. What happens if you can only be happy when your significant other is around? You're gonna be depressed a lot of time, because chances are you'll only see your partner every few months. So here it is: the most obvious, yet the hardest to achieve, tip: be happy, by yourself, even when you're lonely. Spend time every day doing something you enjoy independently. Whether it be reading, painting, running, riding horses, or archery, just make sure it's something you can enjoy doing by yourself. Also, don't get held up on the fact that your partner isn't around. A healthy relationship will always have a bit of isolation, you just get a bigger dose (does that make you healthier? haha, possibly faulty logic).

Photo (of Phil and I) by Hannah Fine Photography 

Don't ruminate on your loneliness. You're miserable and alone. You want your partner. Trust me, I understand. I've been there [a lot]. Again, playing off the previous tip, thinking about how sad and lonely you feel all the time, definitely isn't going to make you feel happier. It's only going to make you feel worse, and get you nowhere. Plus, your partner won't feel any happier when they ask how you're doing, and your response always is "I'm sad and I miss you". Be proactive, and stop thinking about how lonely you are. By simply turning off that thought, you should notice a dramatic increase in your mood. Every time you feel loneliness coming to swallow you up, go do something you love (see above tip).

Send each other meaningful gifts. Have you ever taken the Love Language test? Basically, there are 5 possible love languages that every person can have, and we each tend to be dominant in one or two of them. My love language - for both giving and receiving - is gifts. A good gift is special to me, because it means the person was truly thinking of me and went out of their way to show it. Now, don't get me confused: good gifts do not need to be expensive, and they don't need to be useful, they just need to be thoughtful. When I was visiting Phil a few months back, I forgot a pair of jeans in my rush to pack and get to the airport. He mailed them back to me (because I own like...2 pairs of jeans. And I hate laundry. haha), and inside the package, he lined the box with notes listing the reasons he loves me (don't kill me for making this public, Phil). This was one of my favorite gifts I got from him, but it wasn't a box of chocolates or a bouquet of roses. Do things like this for your significant other; send gifts regularly that are meaningful and personalized.

Plan exciting events together. Maybe I just love to daydream, but Phil and I have spent a good portion of time planning real and hypothetical trips and adventures together. If you can't be with that person right now, the next best step is to plan what you'll do when you do get to be together. Then again, we may just be crazy people who get on a high by frequenting SkyScanner and TripAdvisor. But still - it's fun and entertaining to dream and plan about trips you can take when you finally are reunited. We are currently planning a 2-week backpacking trip through Eastern Europe for this upcoming Christmas. The act of planning brings us closer, and is a fun way to spend out time apart even when we can't chat about it.

Compliment often. You know what's the best (regardless of where your partner is)? Waking up to a lovely message full of compliments, or getting off work to find a hand-written note full of praise of your love sitting on your doorstep. Perfection. Swoon-worthy. While I think that compliments should be shared between couples in any relationship frequently, I think it is especially important in long-distance relationships. Why? Because you can't tell by the way they look at you, or the way they graze the back of your hand, or the million other cheesy (but adorable) ways your partner can show that they find you beautiful and talented in real life, over the phone or Skype. You have to show your love and affection and admiration for that person by telling them. So, do it! Tell your significant other as often as you can how you feel about them, and what makes them special.

Photo (of Phil and I) by Hannah Fine Photography 


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24.7.14

Road Trip: COMPLETE

We finished our road trip. Holy cow. My car is so dirty [and so am I]. I can't wait to have a choice of more than 4 shirts to wear and my own bed to sleep in. My body is so happy to have a regular schedule again. I'm feeling accomplished and exhausted.

ROAD TRIP STATS

Total States: 18
Total miles: 7,481
Total days: 31
National Parks + Monuments: 8
$ saved with National Parks Pass: $65
Potty breaks: 24
$ spent on cheese curds: $20
PBJs consumed: 22



I'm home now. I think I will avoid driving for a month and stick to bikes. And walking. Or maybe just confine myself to my bed - we will see. 

Also, you might have noticed some changes around the blog. All that time I spent driving, my head was churning with ideas for ways I could re-design and improve the appearance of Due East. I've been taking the Blog Design Love course via A Beautiful Mess [I highly recommend it] and have learned the little bits of code I needed to accomplish the design I've been envisioning. I finally got home so I could whip out my watercolors and test out a few designs...and this is what I came up with. Ever since I started Due East, I've always been making minor changes, but with this design, I finally feel at peace and happy with the look of things. What do you think?
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23.7.14

Road Trip: Bryce Canyon, UT

As we came up the ridge to the overlook onto Bryce Canyon, I waited for a fire-breathing dragon to swoop up from between the pillars of rock and fly off into the distance. I don't think I've ever had such a strong impression of an alien (in this case, Fantasy) landscape before. Which is probably why I'm so in love with Bryce Canyon. 
Any place that makes me feel like I'm in a fairytale at, I'm a fan of.
Also, can we just talk about how perfectly orange these rocks are? Any place composed primarily of my favorite color, I will also love.
Bryce Canyon keeps hitting the mark for me. 
The brochures claimed that the most popular trail (Navajo/Queen's Garden loop, for those of you interested) is the 'best 3-mile hike in the world'. I rolled my eyes. I think that every national park probably claims to host 'the best' hikes in the world.
Except, Bryce Canyon wasn't bragging. 

No joke, this was the best hike I've ever been on. That's because it was:
-The perfect length. Not so long as to leave you bored and exhausted (especially at that altitude), and not so short to make it feel more like a walk than a hike.
-Always eye-catching and full of viewing pleasures. There was no shortage of cool things to spy.
-Full of things to climb and play on. There were 1489403248932 different little side-paths and boulders and columns and things to explore. And we did. And none of them was disappointing. 
-Easy to get to. Although I appreciate a rugged hike, it's nice to be able to drive just a few minutes inside the park to get to the trailhead. Especially in this heat.

What I'm saying is, Bryce Canyon is my new favorite place we've gone on this trip. Which is good, because you should always end on a high note, sa? This is the last stop on the road trip before our end and retreat back to Washington. I am content.


Have you been to Bryce Canyon before? Were you as smitten with it as I am? 

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21.7.14

Road Trip: Zion, UT

Zion was beautiful, but I feel bad for my inability to fully appreciate it due to my [constant] fear of heights. Most of the hikes required climbing the steep cliff edges - see Angel's Landing - which I wasn't able to manage. We went on a hike through the river canyon, and then a short hike to the canyon overlook. There were a few thunder storms that rolled through the evening, but the morning views were sunny and bright.
Heights and storms aside, it was still beautiful. 








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19.7.14

Road Trip: Grand Canyon, AZ

The Grand Canyon was a last minute addition to the trip. We went. I cried. I plastered myself to a wall. Phil went to the edge. I was terrified [of heights]. He loved it. I cried more. We left. 




Photo documentation of my feelings [of extreme terror - nobody should be that high] at the Grand Canyon. My tears and fears prevented me from getting many pictures, but there was a storm, so it was hard to get good lighting anyways. I appreciate the beauty of the location, but I'm glad it was a side trip. I wouldn't have lasted there much longer. 

PS - it's ok if you laugh at my freak-out. I would too, if I wasn't freaking out. 
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