A Month Has Passed…

It’s been exactly one month since I decided to try eating as a vegetarian and I’ve learned a lot. Here are a few things I experienced over the past few weeks.

First and foremost – To be honest, my choice to be try  this whole vegetarian thing was purely selfish. I wanted to be healthier for me. Though I’m sure it has positive affects on the environment, animal rights, and a variety of other things, I didn’t want to make this change scientific, too deep, or some dramatic event with meaningful lessons and all that jazz. Much of those benefits are byproducts of the last month. I admire people who choose to be vegetarian for noble reasons. My journey has no direct connection to nobility.

Secondly, I thought about food so much over the last month, especially at the beginning. What foods would I miss having? Could I really go an entire month without meat? How much salad would I consume in 30 days? My first non-salad, vegetarian meal was a wonderful homemade, spinach and ricotta ravioli topped with pesto. There was also wine (much needed wine).

Thinking about food constantly made me talk about food constantly. I annoyed myself so much (others too I’m sure). All the memes or jokes that say part of being a vegetarian is telling everyone are so much funnier now. It took up so much mental space. I felt like I had to proclaim it to the world, and really only other vegetarians care so you can exchange recipes and secretly/openly judge everyone who is. I didn’t participate in the judging, because all I wanted was Wendy’s chicken nuggets, which, I’m sure, barely qualify as meat anyway.

So what have I discovered from being vegetarian for a month?

  1. There’s more to life than salad. Though I love a good salad, there are so many other foods out there and they are just as delicious, if not more.
  2. Fastfood isn’t very vegetarian friendly, which worked out for me because this choice was health related (I still miss Cheesy Gordita Crunches – shout out to Taco Bell).
  3. Your body responds to different foods in different ways. I have more energy. I feel more focused. I have more clarity. Overall, I feel better.
  4. Food is such a big part of my life. I love cooking, trying new recipes, finding awesome wine pairing with great appetizers, and so much more. I love food and food culture.

Here are some challenges I encountered:

  1. Eating became much more involved – I thought so much more about food. I talked a lot about food. (Sorry if you were around me a lot during the last month.) It took up a lot of mental space.
  2. Cravings. Cravings. Cravings. I wanted a greasy burger for an entire week. Didn’t get one and I’m not really on board with black bean burgers yet. Still kinda want a burger.
  3. I ate a lot of oatmeal. I got so tired of eating the same things. It helped with my creativity in the kitchen. Dealing with this got easier as time went on and I tried new recipes.
  4. Sometimes I wouldn’t have enough protein and I learned the new meaning of HANGRY even though I was having normal portion sizes.

All in all, I’ve learned a lot over the last month and I feel healthier. I haven’t decided if I’ll continue on or not. The journey continues.

A Year of Generosity, Experiences, and Building.

“Hemingway said we heal stronger at the broken places, but I’ve found that where the heart is concerned, we also heal more tenderly, more open to the miraculous.” Boyd Varty, author of Cathedral of the Wild, spoke about setting intentions for the year in the last chapter of his book, The Om in Motion.

Instead of creating rigid resolutions that I often seem to fail at, I’ve decided to set clear intentions for myself. What do I want to feel more of? What do I want to do more of? How can I express more gratitude? What can I give more, be it time or resources? Am I maintaining strong relationships rooted in mutual respect, dignity, and love?

The world was rocked pretty hard in 2016. A difficult year didn’t come about unintentionally. No matter how you look at it, there were many times of despair, shock, pain, and hardship caused by natural disasters and people. Many of those things hit me at my core, but on the other side of the coin was success, change, exploration, outpours of love and support, resilience, new friendships and relationships, and the maintenance of old friendships. For me, it was a full year that began with traveling abroad and ending with family at home. 2016 was a year of saying yes to myself. It was a year of healing, soul-searching, and personal growth. 2017 will be a year for balance.

My first intention for the year is to be more generous with my time and resources. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive scholarships for grad school, receive free housing and a stipend. This has allowed me flexibility with time and resources. I hope to support causes with time through volunteering and with resources be it monetary or otherwise. I also hope to be generous with my gratitude and to be more vocal in expressing thanks to others. I want give back to the communities that have given me so much.

My second intention is to continue to having valuable experiences that enhance my learning, bring me joy, and feed my soul. There is value in participation and reflection. In 2016, I traveled abroad and domestically quite a bit. It was enlivening and enriching. I hope to read more, discuss important topics, and simply find joy in daily experiences. I want to see beautiful places and meet beautiful people.

My last intention for the year is to maintain meaningful relationships and cultivate new relationships. The concept of Ubuntu, an African philosophy, has become widely known around the world and it means “I am because you are.” In essence, people exist to be part of communities. Without other people, there is little meaning for our lives. It is important to me build trusting, meaningful relationships that are rooted in dignity, mutual respect, and love.

As you can tell these are not resolutions as they are not rigid, explicitly defined, and time-bound. To me, intentions act like the winds that fill sails and propels ships forward; the must be revisited, adjusted, and reflected upon often. 2017 will be a year of building for me and my intentions will guide me. Best wishes to all celebrating a new year or any time of renewal in life.

Friends Around the World: The American Artist in Italy

From conversations in hostels to exploring cities together, I’ve met some interesting people who all have amazing stories to tell. I’ll be starting a series that highlights friends that I’ve met around the world and their stories.

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This summer in Certaldo, Italy at the Fattoria Bassetto Guesthouse I had the pleasure of meeting Zoe Rayner, an American artist living in Italy. We became friends after three days of conversation and the sharing of wine, pasta, and personal stories. It didn’t take long to discover her amazing talent for drawing. As I journaled at the kitchen table, Zoe took out a sketchpad, several pens and pencils, and started crafting a masterpiece. Check out her Instagram page to see more work by Zoe, @zoe.illustration. Be sure to follow me for more updates @vincent_thurman1.

Though it may not  reflect in her work pre-say, she does pull inspiration from Arthur Rackham, Katie Scott, James Jean, Brett Helquist, and Jared Muralt. “I’m definitely not saying that my art looks anything like theirs, but I find their styles and the depth of their ideas endlessly inspirational.

Bellow you’ll find a short interview between myself and Zoe.

Vincent: Why drawing?

Zoe: I always loved art, and it became a sort of natural direction for me to take. The process of creating something can be so meditative and personal, so it’s interesting to see how others respond to what you’ve made and how you can use the personal process to convey something universal.

Vincent: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve drawn?

Zoe: One of my favorites is of an octagonal bee hive, with a few bees around it. I wasn’t really planning it ahead of time, so it just developed as I drew. It was one of the more challenging drawings that I’d done then, so it felt like a personal accomplishment, to push myself a bit further than usual.

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Vincent: Describe a moment that captures the spirt of your work?

Zoe: I guess one moment that stands out is when I realized that art was what I wanted to do for a living: I was avoiding a college paper, so I sat down to draw instead, and when the piece was done I suddenly felt this clarity. I like to be able to return to that feeling whenever I’m doing a new piece.

Vincent: Any last words of inspiration for other artists?

Zoe: Everyone has their own style, their own way of expressing an idea or emotion. Don’t compare yourself to others, but take inspiration from them and strengthen your personal style. It’s much more rewarding to reach that point of feeling unique in your work, and to be aware of the qualities that make it your own.

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 Artist Spotlight: Zoe Rayner – find her on Instagram to explore her work.

Travel Series Part 3 – Nostalgic. Grateful. And Ready to Go Again

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Imagine coming home after four months of exploration, being fully present, and navigating life in places so unfamiliar that all you could do was stumble around for a while until you found your way? Midge Carter found herself buying tickets for trains with no destination in mind. She hiked mountains, walked out to island after the tide rolled out, and sat at King Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh at sunrise with 16 amazing friends. (Photos at the end).

Today’s blog is about Midge’s four-month journey around Europe. From hot chocolate in Ibiza to longing for Smucker’s All Natural Peanut Butter by the end of her trip, Midge shared with me interesting stories about not wanting to leave, but finally coming to a place where she is grateful for her experiences, but so deeply ready to leave again. (She’s not particular about much, but she is about peanut butter. – “Smucker’s All Natural Peanut Butter or NOTHING”). In France, she found herself wandering around markets before heading out for a solo-hike. “I don’t speak French so I just walked around pointing at things and ended up with a few oranges and a baguette. I hiked up this mountain by myself and I sat on the side of it looking out at the alps… just sitting there like this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.”When you’re traveling for months at a time, you experience these peaceful, still moments where it’s just you and the world.

You also find that much of your success is related to the kindness of others. Traveling is deeply revealing – it shows us deepest selves, our strength, our ability to be alone and be happy, and our need to connect wherever we go. “There was one day when two of us met up with two friends for a hike and when we got to the top it was so windy and no one else was around. It was JUST us. It was just the most… it was one of those moments that feels so tangible because it’s so solid when you’re in it and you want to remember it.” These moments aren’t easily forgotten. We hold tightly to the moments where we felt most alive. We remember who was with us, what the air felt like, and how important the people around us were in those moments.

As the trip came to a close the emotions changed. The desire to get off the plane and escape back to a new place grows and grows. “The hardest part was that I didn’t want to be home. Especially because I spent the rest of the summer in the same town I grew up in. It’s like going from doing something interesting every day and all of sudden you’re back in the grind. It’s not like every day there (Europe) was perfect, but it wasn’t every day here.” While listening to Midge share stories of travel and her journey home, I couldn’t help but go back to the moment of landing back in the States after my first trip abroad. That feeling of I could be anywhere in the world right now, why did I come back here sets in. You think of just buying the first ticket out to wherever and going away again. It doesn’t last forever, but it does feel like it will never go away.

After a while, you come to a point where you’ve settled back in. You find that the grind isn’t so bad and you look back on all the memories made with amazing people. “I think I stopped being angry when I felt like I was doing something with my life again… And I’m at a point where I’m nostalgic, and grateful, and ready to go again,” The desire to travel never really goes away after that first trip. It intensifies and staying in familiar places too long starts to feel suffocating, but that’s when you look through old photos, plan your next trip and get on your way.

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All photos were provided by Midge Carter. Midge is studying public relations, a lover of Smucker’s All Natural Peanut Butter, and a fellow Travel enthusiast.

The Big Picture – Update

Between now and the end of 2016, I’ll be sharing a collection of posts in series format. As I become more selective of blog content, I’ll be looking for stories, guest writers, and people to feature. If you’re interested feel free to DM me via Instagram, @vince_thurman1 or Comment on this post.

Over the next three days, I’ll be highlighting three areas of travel ranging from planning your trip to having to come home after a few months of being away.

This week’s series will highlight three friends interested in travel. First, I’ll be highlighting Harrison Watts, who is preparing to leave on a four-month study abroad trip to Florence, Italy, which also happens to be his first Solo-Trip. Next will be Amanda Yats, this week’s guest writer who will share about her Love Affair with England. Finally, Midge Carter will reflect on spending a summer abroad.

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Coffee has a Story – Review: The Coffee Room

Much like recent posts, the focus of this one will be a review of a local place. Coffeeshops and cafes have my attention. Each one has a particular story, unique coffee, and a style all its own. The Coffee Room is no different.

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It is elegant and warm, quiet and refined, and their team seeks to provide high quality coffee that has been ethically sourced. There is a story for every cup and passion for every pour. If you’re interested in some quiet time in a quaint downtown cafe, The Coffee Room is for you. It can be found in downtown Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Not only is the coffee wonderful, but they also have quite a selection of delicious food. I enjoyed the peanut butter, green apple, and strawberry jelly panini. It was the perfect balance of tart and sweet for a late afternoon snack, which paired well with the lavender latte.

Amanda Yats, fellow coffee and travel enthusiast, described the mozzarella, pesto, and tomato panini as mouth-watering. “All of the ingredients on the panini have flavors that really compliment each other.” (@amanda_yats – Twitter). Marry Moore, a graduate student from Ireland, studied while waiting for a bite. She also found the peanut butter, apple, and strawberry jelly panini to be a fantastic choice. (moorem29 – Instagram)

The Coffee Room is an inviting space where you’ll find baristas who are happy to welcome you into their home for a warm cup of coffee or breakfast on Sunday. It is a place where passion rules the day and a commitment to the process really makes all the different. You’ll find good coffee with a story to tell. From pour overs to onsite roasting, The Coffee Room is must visit.

Follow The Coffee Room: @narrativallitycoffee on Instagram

Follow Amanda Yats: @amanda_yats on Twitter

Follow Mary Moore: @moorem29 on Instagram

Style Revisited – Something New

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about style, being unfamiliar with fashion, and finally taking risks. I’ve decided to revisit the topic to share what I’ve learned about myself and style in the past few months. Here are six lessons I’ve learned:

  1. My confidence has grown tremendously. Taking risks and seeing them pay off is a great way to boost confidence. I’m not talking blind risk. I’m talking thoughtful, calculated risk. Making smart decisions after going through some trial and error. Some outfits were great and others were… Well let’s just say I won’t be wearing a few of them again. This has benefited me in my personal and professional life. Decisive. Bold. Flexible. Creativity. These are the words that come to mind.1
  2. Less is more… I paired down my wardrobe down to the essentials and a few extra luxuries. I have 7 pairs of paints including jeans/denim, 3 pairs of shorts, closes to exercise in, 8 dress shirts, approximately, and 10 t-shirts varying for seasons. Based on that count I’d say I’d have approximately 40-50 total items of clothing, excluding shoes. That can be saved for a different blog. I have less stress about deciding what to wear because I now have less an 100 items to choose from. It feels great. You can always buy what you need to fill in gaps.2
  3. Understand the occasion. Thinking back to a few years ago, I would dress how I wanted to dress. It wasn’t bad, but sometimes I wasn’t dressed appropriately for the occasion. There were times when I was overdressed and others when I was woefully underdressed. If you aren’t sure about what’s appropriate, ask. It’s okay to ask questions. Better ask and find out, than show up and be out of place. 3
  4. Be comfortable. Look Good. Feel Good applies here. First and foremost, you have to be comfortable. If you aren’t, people will notice, which doesn’t matter a ton, but you’ll probably hate every second of it. Constantly readjusting is a sign that you might not be comfortable. Make sure the fit is right on whatever you’re wearing. When the fit is right, the entire outfit looks better.Style 1
  5. Own your style and try new things. If you’re creative, find a way to pull an outfit together that you didn’t see before. If you’re unsure about that haircut or hairstyle, try it. If you don’t like it, change it. If you like to dress up, get out of bed a half hour earlier and get ready for the day. If it’s Saturday and you aren’t going anywhere, rock the joggers or sweatpants. 4
  6. Don’t let people dictate what is right for you. Style is about a swagger or an expression of your personality. Don’t force it and play around with the ideas you have. You might find that you like something you were afraid to try.

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Also a special guest quote from my friend Julie Fredrick: “SHOES ALWAYS MATCH THE BAND OF THE WATCH.”

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Photos taken by: @SarahFiorillo (Instagram)

 

Office Spotlight – Jesi Ekonen

Etsy Shops. Just Follow Your Art. Associate Director. Jesi is the creative genius who doubles as a Student Affairs professional who basically does six jobs. This spotlight is particularly special because I’ve known Jesi for a little over six years now. She interviewed me for LAS Competition Day in 2010.

Knowing Jesi has been a privilege. From the great conversations, to the times she’s pushed me to become a better professional, and all fun and funny moments in between, Jesi has been a tremendous mentor and friend over the years. She loves Dan Ekonen, Betty White and Mr. Jones. She’s wildly talented in the realms of art, whit, and sarcasm, which resulted in the creation of Just Follow Your Art (http://etsy.me/2eqYyTC). And she’s just cool.

Jesi and I share a love of wine/champagne, leadership development, all things potato, and just giving a damn about making the world better in big and small ways. Knowing Jesi has helped me become more creative, professional, and thoughtful. I’ve been lucky enough to work with you, learn from you, and just celebrate good times. Thank you for all you do, Jesi.

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Jesi Ekonen is the Associate Director of the Leadership Institute at Central Michigan University

Office Spotlight – Sarah Fiorillo

From the Grad Coho (Grad Cohort) to the Grave (Grad Cave), Sarah Fiorillo has been as cool as they come. Do you need a friend that is weird, but in a cool way? What about one who challenges you to be better? Well that’s Sarah Fiorillo.

The first time I met Sarah was in a Small Group Communication class. She was in a group called Kitty Power. My group was less creative, and decided to be Incredibly Awesome. After that course, we never crossed paths again. That was until we both started grad school. Over the last year, Sarah and I have shared an office, bottles of wine, presentations, facilitator roles, classes, and roles in several murder mysteries thanks to Jeremy.

Sarah is a supportive individual who thrives in creative environments. From bouncing ideas off one another to Instagram photography, we’ve had some cool memories and lots of laughs. One semester stands between us and graduation. It’s been a good run FeFe. If you’re thinking about going to grad school, make sure you’ve got good people around you. It’ll make all the difference.

 

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Sarah is the Coordinator of Leader Advancement Scholarship for CMU’s Leadership Institute. She is pursuing a career in Higher Education.

The Artistic Lens – Lessons from a Visit to the Art Institute of Chicago

If you’ve seen any of my drawings or paintings, you’ll know that I have no hand for the arts. Even with a deep appreciation for them, my doodles and sketches don’t amount to much. That doesn’t stop me from drawing or painting. I color outside the lines (sometimes on purpose and other times not so much ha). I love it and I am interested in how artists see the world.

I spent a few hours at the Art Institute of Chicago on Wednesday with a friend and mentor. I was excited to discover new insights about creativity after taking a guided tour of the Modern Art Wing and some unguided roaming. Our tour guide, with such a bright and excited passion for the arts and museums, discussed a variety of works including those of Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Moholy-Nagy. One of the common themes among their works is to push art forward when it needed to change. To see differently in a conventional world. Even if the world wasn’t ready or receptive, they changed for the sake of the artist and creativity.

One of the unique insights presented was that artists adapted to the introduction of technology. For example, artists found new ways to paint still life paintings when the camera was introduced. Not in content, but in presentation. They became more abstract to be specific. Our tour guide may have captured the sentiment of the artist, “You can take a picture of a tree. You know what it looks like. I don’t have to paint what is there. I can’t paint what I see.” Trees became characterized by odd shapes, vague outlines, and colors that no tree will ever be. Yet, it is still recognizable as a tree.

Artists have freedom to create representations of familiar subjects based on what they see and perceive. This practice seems transferable in its utility, but I’m unsure of how to make it tangible for other areas of my life. Though I am not an artistic, in what ways can I adapt my behaviors and thinking as new information and technology are introduced? There are many questions I have yet to answer, but this new (to me) way of thinking may prove to be helpful in future endeavors.

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