5 Stand Out Senses (or, 5 SOS_001)

On the first day of autumn this year, I started doing something new:

Instead of instinctively reaching for my phone when I woke up, I altered the course of my hand to land on my sketchbook.  On that morning and every morning since, I tell email and weather and Instagram to slow their role, then breathe deeply for a beat or two as I sit up and place the black leather-bound book on my lap.  With mechanical pencil in hand, I start thinking of three gratitudes to honor.  I limit myself to three things for two reasons:  1. I'm a bit long-winded and flowery in my writing (can you tell?), and 2. I usually have to pee pretty badly first thing in the a.m. (Yes, I force myself to stay in bed until all three things are fully jotted down, and no I don't want to end up like the old lady in the field-trip scene of Billy Madison.)

I chose to start this practice on a day of astrological -and for me hugely symbolic- transition.  Summer is my favorite.  It's the undeniable best.  It's my groove.  And I feel down when the plug is pulled on that groove.  Summer is lingering in the heat of the late sun, it encourages movement/gathering/revelry/travel, and despite my "adult" status, it still pulses with the wild freedom that punctuated childhood.

To me, fall has always stood for massive change, both in lifestyle and scenery.  It is the uniquely melancholy combination of returning to rules and the shedding of summer's luscious verdancy.

In an attempt to get ahead of that shadow feeling, I thought a good practice would be to welcome the day not focusing on the negative aspects of the new season, but by paying homage to ALL THE RAD THINGS in my world.

This morning's first entry was so simple, but so important.  "I am grateful for my 5 good senses.  Sight, sound, scent, taste, and touch are all in fine working order, and for that I am so damn lucky."  Maybe I should put them to proper use!  

Below are five stand out discoveries that have nourished me over the past week.  I want this to become a weekly post, likely issued on Friday/Friyay afternoons.  For now, here's the first installment of 5 Stand Out Senses (5 SOS_001)...I know, 001...Ambitious, right?:

 

 1. Sight

Francis and the Lights

I suppose these rightly fall under "Sound," as well, but I'm really digging the constraint of the single take illustrated in these two videos.

Fantastic things about "Friends":

  • Kanye's jacket
  • @ 1m26s when Francis crosses the edge of set, from rehearsed order in the white envelope to chaotic freakout in the darkness.
  • Thinking about how many times Bon Iver rehearsed the synched dance alone in his living room.

"Friends" by Francis and the Lights ft. Bon Iver and Kanye West

Fantastic thing about "Like a Dream":

  • His mastery of my move.

"Like a Dream" by Francis and the Lights

 2. Sound

The new album "WALLS" by Kings of Leon.  (WALLS = We Are Like Love Songs)

This is the band's first release since September 2013.  It feels great to hear from them because in an ever-oversynthed world, they are straight-up Rock & Roll.  

Start to finish, WALLS is so satisfying...save for #6 "Muchacho," which rambles with the monotony of a tumbleweed.  Things kick off explosively with "Waste A Moment" and "Reverend," but I'll peg my favorite song as #4 "Find Me."  It recalls "The Boys Of Summer" by Don Henley, which is massive praise.

 3. Scent

This is a snapshot of the corner of my desk where I house facilitators of good smells and good feels.  Here's a list of what they are and why they're awesome:

  • Paine's Red Cedar Incense - Epitomizes that the best things in life are (nearly) free.  I adore everything about this product: 100% natural/chemical free/sustainable production and sourcing, made in Maine (their About page makes me want to visit and hug the entire team), price ($6 for 32 cones and holder), packaging (!!!), and one of the most evocative and comforting scents for fall.  (Another epic option is the sampler incense set by Incienso De Santa Fe, which also has glorious branding.)
  • Palo Santo Smudge Sticks - "Palo Santo" translates from Spanish as "Holy Wood."  It is sourced from Ecuador and traditionally used to clear spaces of negative energy and stagnation.  The link above takes you to the online retailer Mountain Rose Herbs, which provides a more in-depth product description, and is an overall fantastic marketplace for all things herbal and healing.
  • Chikuno Charcoal Purifying Cube - A really beautiful example of form + function.
  • Marble Candleholder by Fort Standard - Brooklyn-based makers of functional and fun objects in gorgeous materials.  I also met one member of the design duo at an expo last year.  Major babe.
  • Matches from CAP Beauty and Warm NY - The extent that I love these shops/brands is too vast to delve into here, but what the heck, maybe just a little!  Without exaggeration, CAP Beauty and its founders Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy DiPrima played a pivotal role in the way I care for my skin and body, and provided a case study for the business I eventually hope to grow...slowly, steadily, sincerely.  Warm NY is truly the warmest nook of Hamptons-meets-SoCal culture in New York City.  Every attempt to "pop in for a quick look" has stretched to hours bouncing between their fragrance wall, the back room of coffee-table dream books, and legit meaningful talks with the sweet and stylish women who work there.  Also, they have the best mottos:  "Beauty is wellness, and wellness is beauty." (CAP)  "Go where its warm." (Warm NY)
Photo: Me

Photo: Me

 4. Taste

Question:  You get one food and one beverage for the rest of life - what are they?  (Let's figure in spring water w/lemon and a solid multivitamin to cover our bases...)

Answer:  OYSTERS.  DIRTY MARTINIS (just the tiniest bit dirty).

Monsieur Oyster by Panthalassa | NOWNESS

Photo: Marlow Goods

Photo: Marlow Goods

 5. Touch

Walking barefoot.  Outside.  On a natural piece of land.  Like a human.

One of the many gifts that's come as a result of moving from New York City to the middle of the New England woods is my ability to experience nature readily, often, and without barriers.  It's become a nearly everyday occurrence to take a long walk through surrounding parks and trails, and it feels right when I forego rubber soles.  By allowing my feet to touch the ground, I feel not only more observant and respectful of the changing terrain (and whatever critters come to pass), but awakened to my own animalness.

I'm reminded that I'm enough: me and my skin and the clothes on (or not on) my back and my breath through the trees... Now disregarding the many silly things that clogged my head and my happiness back in the urban jungle.  I went months without feeling dirt or grass under my toes, but certainly feeling strangled by the ever-mounting stressors of an unfulfilling job and human gridlock.

There are an increasing number of studies scientifically proving the myriad benefits to human health through "earthing" or "grounding."  For those locked in city centers (or anyone not desirous of frost-bite in the dead of winter), products such as these mats can be a huge win.

But if opportunity permits, I urge everyone to shed their sneaks/stilettos/self-consciousness and truly connect with the world.

Photo / Art: Shawna Ankenbrandt; Edit: Me

Photo / Art: Shawna Ankenbrandt; Edit: Me