gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

Goat Yoga

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Most everyone who knows me knows that I love goats. I’m not quite sure how this love started, but like most loves, it just happens when you least expect it. I suppose my earliest recollection of my love affair with goats is from when I was in grade school and went to the 4-H Fair in the summertime. Among other animals, there were always goats. Adorable goats. And I started looking at pygmy goats for sale online, at a very affordable cost! It escalated when I lived in Massachusetts for a year about 4 years ago, where I regularly visited a goat farm, especially when they had babies. I’ve been dreaming of having my own little goat farm ever since!

This past weekend I got to do goat yoga, a craze that is attracting goat-lovers and non-goat-lovers alike. There’s something about it that is just intriguing. The hour of goat yoga was everything I thought it would be. Fun, filled with goats jumping on top of me (yay!), and light on the yoga. It was hosted by GlennArt Farm in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. I’ll let these pictures tell the story. Ignore my form though…it was hard to focus with a 20 pound goat on my back…haha

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Lisa Graziose Corrin, Director of the Block Museum of Art

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I really enjoyed this interview with Lisa Graziose Corrin by Chicago Gallery News, a premier source for art happenings in Chicago. I subscribe to their email list and I’m always eager to read their weekly interviews with museum directors and gallery owners. Lisa Graziose Corrin is currently the Director of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, but she was previously the Director of the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), which is a place dear to my heart, as I lived in Williamstown for one year and absolutely loved it.

The way she describes her connection to the Met in New York and how it’s like home to her is endearing, and her observation of Monet’s Women in the Garden reminds me why I love art as I do. When we look at art we are forced to examine what we’re looking at while keeping in mind that what we see at first glance is not necessarily the whole picture.

I remember going to the Met and seeing a small study of Monet’s Women in the Garden, which is now in the Musee d’Orsay, and seeing the shadow on the back of a train on a woman’s dress and the hundreds of shades of green and grey that composed this picture. I realized Monet was not painting women’s dresses at all, he was painting the effects of light. It was like a veil had been lifted from my eyes and everything I looked at around me after that changed. I saw how art could be a window onto other ways of perceiving and understanding the world. At that moment I thought “Wow I want to be looking through those windows for the rest of my life.”

This is the passage that particularly stood out to me. I just love her insight into the art world landscape, the future of leadership within the museum field, and the way she responds to work that inspires her.

Reggaeton

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So a few weeks ago a friend of mine introduced me to Reggaeton and I literally can’t stop listening to it. He shared a playlist with me, which I’ve been playing on repeat ever since. Among the many catchy tunes on the playlist, this one is one of my favs. I have no idea what the lyrics are saying because I don’t know Spanish, so I may be unknowingly offending a lot of people right now. From the music video I can gather that a couple is having a fight, they go their separate ways for a bit, and then somehow run into each other on the street in the middle of a dance party and make up? Can  someone who speaks Spanish please tell me what’s going on?? I don’t know how I lived my life before discovering Reggaeton.

Austin, TX

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I went to Austin, TX a couple weeks ago, making it my second time to Texas after going to Houston last Fall for a friend’s wedding. My primary reason for going was to support three friends who participated in the BP MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin over the course of two days (a big feat if you ask me)! For one my friends this was his second ride, but this year he was joined by his wife and a friend. The event is a fundraiser for MS research and each rider has to raise $400 in order to participate. The funds all go to the National MS Society and they raise millions of dollars because they have 10,000 + riders and some raise more than the required amount.

This type of fundraiser/bike ride doesn’t just take place from Houston to Austin, but in other parts of the country as well, like Minnesota, Illinois, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and the list goes on. I was really touched, inspired, and all things emotional that my friends participated in this ride because MS is something that hits close to home for me. It was definitely hot in Austin and we felt it while we were waiting for them to cross the finish line, but at least we got to hang out in the VIP MS tent. My mom and one of my best friends, who happens to be the sister of my friend who was riding, went with me and we made signs to wave at the finish line. It was amazing to see them cross that line and they were exhausted, but already planning training for a triathlon! They rode with Team Karbach, so of course there was beer waiting for them after they finished, courtesy of Karbach Brewing Co. After the ride we went out for BBQ, where I tried beef brisket. I got fatty and lean, per the waiter’s recommendation because I had no idea how to order, but next time I would probably only get lean.

While in Austin we also went out on 6th Street (of course) to a place called Easy Tiger. It definitely wasn’t a crazy bar, like many of them on 6th Street, and it had a really cute outdoor area next to a creek with strings of lights overhead. We went to the Zilker Botanical Garden, which was beautiful. It was so peaceful and I wish we had more time there. We visited the Graffiti Park and I bought a couple cute little prints from an artist. I was sad to hear that the graffiti wall is being torn down and relocated. We had a very short amount of time at the Blanton Museum of Art, but I liked what I got to see of it. They have a big contemporary Latin American art collection. We walked around The University of Texas at Austin campus, got breakfast tacos at Torchy’s (which apparently is a staple), walked around the vintage and luxury shops on South Congress, got ice cream at Amy’s (also a staple), and of course took pics at the I love You So Much mural. Right before heading to the airport we toured the State Capitol building, which was beautiful and we had an excellent tour guide. I learned a lot about the history of Texas that I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know before.

We also went to Waco for a morning, which was amazing! See my post about Magnolia Market here.

I liked Austin, but I don’t think it’s a city I would want to live in. I almost preferred Houston, which I’m scared to admit because I feel like Austin is thought of as a really fun, hip city in Texas and Houston is not…haha. I just really liked the museum district in Houston, Hermann Park, Rice University, and Discovery Green. Next time I go to Austin, I would want to see San Antonio because it’s so close, and definitely go to Waco again!

Magnolia Market / Waco, TX

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So I had one of the best days of my life this past Saturday…at Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas! Honestly, I think it’s the happiest place on the planet. Everyone there is just so happy to be there, and the employees are very friendly. I have found that to be true of all the people I met in Texas actually (but I can’t speak for all of Texas of course). Anyway, back to Magnolia…I went to Austin to support my friends who were riding in the BP MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin and took advantage of Austin’s proximity to Waco. I mean, I couldn’t be so close to Waco and not go! More about Austin and the bike ride in my next post.

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We arrived to Austin late Friday night after our flight was delayed a couple of hours as we just sat on the tarmac due to a disgruntled passenger. We got to our hotel around 1 in the morning, at which point the hotel no longer had a room for us because it was too late and they had to ship us to a different hotel. We finally got to the bed around 2 and had to get up at 5:30 to catch the 7 AM bus to Waco. Needless to say we tired, but getting up wasn’t hard because we were so excited to go to Magnolia. My mom went with me, which was really special because Magnolia is a place that exudes family.

We only had 3 hours in Waco before catching the bus back to Austin so we used our time wisely. We didn’t go to their new restaurant, Magnolia Table, because it’s a three mile shuttle ride away from the main complex and the wait time can be long. Oh well, next time! So we had breakfast at the bakery and the cupcakes were amazing! The outdoor seating area is very pleasant and reminds you of a French cafe.

After breakfast we went to the main store and spent about an hour there. It’s big, with two floors and lots and lots of people. So it takes a while to go through all of it, take everything in, and make final selections for what to buy. There were definitely some things I picked up right away, but others that I thought about while walking through and went back to pick up (which is not easy because there is a bit of path/flow that people follow throughout the store). I obviously got one of their signature Linen candles, a few wooden kitchen things, a T-shirt (super soft!), a beautiful little necklace made by an artisan in Nashville, TN (which I’ve worn everyday since I got it), the Spring issue of The Magnolia Journal, a couple body products, and a cute little metal Magnolia sign.

Then we went to the Seed + Supply store, which is much smaller and less crowded, but still adorable. They have several food trucks in the big outdoor area and my mom and I got crepes!

Sadly, it was time to go. I was so so happy to be there and it was absolutely worth the trip from Austin, even if just for a few hours. It’s definitely not my last time there and I’d love to see it decorated for Christmas. I also want to explore more of Waco and drive around to see the various houses that Chip & Joanna have renovated. Until next time, Magnolia!

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Nothing’s Gonna Change That Girl

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I went to see Hurray for the Riff Raff this past weekend with a friend at Thalia Hall in Pilsen, and we actually saw them at the same venue last Spring about this same time. They were just as good as last year, and their performance of this song particularly spoke to me. I like the idea of a woman being in command of herself, standing her ground, and sticking to her guns! It’s a practice I’m trying to be more mindful of.

I love going to concerts but they can be an isolating experience…you’re surrounded by a crowd of people, so in some ways it’s a collective experience. But each person in the audience is also having a unique experience because the way that music makes us feel is so personal. Whatever thoughts or emotions music elicits in us is specific to us, so in this sense it’s a totally individual experience…it’s a bit sad that you’re with so many people, yet alone. But of course it’s still fun to experience the music, nonetheless.

Sentimental

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A couple definitions that pop up when you search for the word sentimental (adj.) in the dictionary are:

expressive of or appealing to sentiment, especially the tender emotions and feelings, as love, pity, or nostalgia

weakly emotional; mawkishly susceptible or tender

I know I’m definitely a sentimental person and I’m not going to apologize for it. I may be weakly emotional and nostalgic, but I would rather be that than not feeling enough. I think having too many feelings and being able to express those feelings, although sometimes with great difficulty, is one of life’s beautiful tragedies. Beautiful because what are we but feeling beings at every turn and therefore have no choice but to express ourselves, and tragic because sometimes those feelings are not well received or returned.

Nostalgia is a funny thing because we know it’s pointless to reminisce the past and hope to return to a happy time, but those daydreamin’ minds like mine almost have no control and keep dreaming away. But can we be blamed for reminiscing happy times simply for the pure appreciation of those happy moments? I don’t think so. It’s heartening to know that we’ve experienced such happy moments and we must be grateful for them, because life is not always rainbows and butterflies.

So fuck it…we have the feelings we have and we just can’t help it. So keep on having those feelings and sharing them. In the spirit of Lorde (who I recently saw in concert and was absolutely amazing):

I am my mother’s child, I’ll love you ’til my breathing stops
I’ll love you ’til you call the cops on me

Poet/visual artist Cecilia Vicuña

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I had the pleasure of seeing a talk/performance by Chilean visual artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña at the Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago last week. She began by walking onto the stage holding large colorful paper glasses up to her face and hummed for a couple minutes. She then began to speak about her life with a biographical chronicle of events of her time as an exchange student in Chicago while in high school. There was a poetic manner in which she spoke – the way she broke up her sentences into shorter phrases, sometimes whispered (which was frustrating at times because she was hard to hear) and then raised her voice surprisingly quickly for the next line. She was so cute and fragile, and yet full of wisdom, assertiveness, and passion.

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She spoke in detail about a practice in which she breaks down the syllables of a word to identify the meaning of each syllable and how they relate to the meaning of the word as a whole. For example:

Palabrarma

Palabra – word; arma – weapon

Meaning – words as weapons

Granted, this is a word she has made up, but she does it with actual words as well. I think it’s fascinating to break a word down to discover that each of its parts means the same thing, or something similar, to the word in its entirety. She delved further into the philosophy of language and argued that it primarily analyzes western beliefs and the western structure of thought and speech, and it fails to take into account eastern thought or any other systems of language.

She talked about our powerlessness in the control that we have over our lives – not that we can’t have autonomy over our actions, but that there is something greater than us breathing life into us, and we can’t take credit for that. In fact, we have to understand and respect it. She also brought our attention to Hindu beliefs regarding breath that I wish I could remember, but she was just so full of insightful anecdotes that I couldn’t catch all of them. I wish I could have recorded her performance and play it back when I’m in need of some encouragement. She was wonderful.

A weekend getaway in the Berkshires

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What is it about getting away for a few days that helps you put things into perspective? Getting out of your bubble, the space you occupy, and the actions you perpetuate on a daily basis to clear your mind and refresh…refresh in the sense of either confirming certain convictions, or taking a different path with a new mindset.

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I went to the Berkshires this past weekend with my mom, as the two of us often do, but this time two of my best friends drove in from Boston for a couple days. I absolutely loved getting to share a place that I hold so dear to my heart with two people that are also close to my heart. It was interesting to hear their reactions to Williamstown because they are city people and their main observation was how quite it is. Too quiet. But I love the quiet. I love the peace and tranquility and the smells. I guess it just feels like home. They definitely also recognized how nice it was to get away from the city though, and how different the pace of life is – like stepping back in time away from the modern world.

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The first thing I did early Saturday morning before my friends arrived was go to my favorite little goat farm that I used to visit when I lived there – Mountain Girl Farm. I’ve had a long-standing love for goats and it’s no secret to those who know me well that I dream of having a goat farm someday. I am completely happy when surrounded by goats. Hence the million repetitive pictures you’ll see below…

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I promise I did more than just frolic with goats while I was in the Berkshires. I got to take my friends to my favorite restaurant in North Adams, MA called Public, which is a tourist attraction and brings some urban flair to the country, both in ambience and food selection. We went for a couple walks in the fields because luckily it was sunny and warm. I took them to my favorite coffee shop in Williamstown, Tunnel City Coffee, where the baristas still remember me even though I haven’t been a regular in 4 years since I lived there. And I took them to the Clark Art Institute, which is a magnificent world-class art museum tucked away in the hills. We also had a meal, more like a feast, at home with a good family friend who happens to be a chef (among other things).

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It was hard for my mom and I to leave this beautiful place we love so much (and I didn’t want to go back to the city), and I think we came away from the weekend with an even greater love for it and sense of connection to it.

 

Lorde is a queen

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I went to see Lorde in concert the other night in Chicago with some friends, and she was incredible. Even from far away up in the stands, we could feel her humility, genuine spirit, and wisdom. Her energy permeated the building. She spoke with such poise about what this album means to her and where it came from. As often happens at concerts, artists like to share a bit about what they’ve been through that influenced their music. And often these moments are inspiring. I think that warm, energized feeling elicited by these personal stories is magnified because it is connected to music and music always brings out all the feels (at least for me). If these stories weren’t told through music, they wouldn’t be nearly as powerful.

Lorde’s dynamism lies in her lyrics and her melodies of course, but also in her presence and performance. And her dance moves because they are just real and amazing. Her new album is a breakup album, so we cried, we laughed, and we danced. Because what else are you supposed to do in the face of heartbreak…

I like this performance of “Supercut”, because while it doesn’t show her explosive energy, it’s like a spiritual ode to an elusive memory of the past. Lucky for us, she sang this song at the concert and ran all over the stage in an happy/melancholic frenzy. It was definitely one of those experiences that I never wanted to end.