Getting To Know The Dead

by Richard Furleigh

“There’s two types of people in my life, those who I knew before Alyssa passed away, and those who never knew her.” – Kenneth Burleigh, father-in-law

Sadly, I fall into that second category. For those of you who may not know, Kristen had a sister, Alyssa. The car accident that took her life was on May 24th, 2009, and this reoccurring date along with her birthday are always an interesting time for me. I feel such a deep sympathy for Kristen and the Burleigh family, losing a family member is never easy, but at such a young age hits so much harder.

Her death at a young age also meant that, even though I met Kristen in college, I have never met her sister.

This person, who was such an intertwined part of my wife’s life, is someone I can never meet. It is an interesting thing that for someone I haven’t met, I can feel the impact she had on those around me. I hear stories of the fights Alyssa and my wife had about clothes when they were younger, hear the family recall working with her at Gone Bananas with them, and watch videos of her with my wife. There is a person who may no longer be here physically but still has a presence in Kristen’s, and in turn my, life.

In the beginning there was a detachment from it, the rituals that happen every year: balloon release, throwing flowers in the river. Over time they have started to mean more to me, and I think that is in no small part to the feeling that I, in some small way, have been getting to know her, the life she led. There is a delight now that I get in watching Adriana’s face light up as she begins to tell a story about Alyssa, or the way Kristen rolls her eyes in response to something Alyssa did years ago, or bringing our little star pouch with some of her ashes in it with us when we travel and leaving some wherever we go. Big and small these things have helped me come to terms with one of the oddest things I have ever attempted to wrap my head around; getting to know a dead person.

It would have been wonderful to have been able to meet her, to see if the stories live up, and to see what sort of relationship my wife and she would have had together. While that will never happen, I am extremely grateful and inspired by the people who loved her most, carrying on her spirit with them. It has allowed me some sense of who Alyssa was in such a peculiar situation.

For those who may know someone who has a similar situation I encourage you to not shy away from discussions about the departed, but to get to know them much in the same way I have learned to get to know Alyssa over the years. It can feel very odd and awkward at first, but there is a very real connection to be had to those people, and those that are telling you their stories will almost always appreciate a chance to relive the fond memories they have with them. Because it seems to me that those who may not be here physically still live on within those they have touched. Until next time Pengminions I leave you with Kristen’s rendition of Cam’s “Village” adapted in Alyssa’s memory.
https://www.smule.com/recording/cam-village/424533653_1167914524/frame

A Trip of Solo Travel

If you have been reading our blogs you might know that we are heading to London this summer. We will be participating in the Global Business Program for a week long intensive where we get to explore international businesses, be immersed in a new culture, and of course partake in local cuisine. London in and of itself will not be a first but a solo international flight and exploring overseas will be. To “save” a bit of money I decided to take an earlier flight to London. Save is in quotes because what I am saving on a plane ticket I will be utilizing to fund my stay and adventures before class starts.

I am so stoked about it though. Always having wanted to do some solo traveling I have never created the opportunity before now. Luckily, my job at the University of Nevada has allowed me the freedom to take the time off for this adventure. When thinking about my upcoming trip I cannot wait to roam the streets in a new country going wherever my feet lead me. I belatedly decided to look at a Warner Bros. Studio – Harry Potter Tour but they are all booked up for when I am going to be there and I am bummed about it, BUMMED! ::cry emoji::

It has been about 5 years since the last time I was in London, the trip was only a couple days and it all went by so fast I hardly remember all that I did. My guess is once I am back and surrounded by the city much will come back as far as orienting myself. I often get asked when I travel “aren’t you scared” and honestly I am not. I am always excited to go somewhere new and explore.

To me the world is not as scary a place as most people who ask me that question and the media make it out to be. Most of the tragedies people are worried about happen here at home too but I go out by myself all the time here. I refuse to allow these ‘what if’ scenarios to keep me from going out and exploring the world. There is something to be said for attempting some research ahead of time to know what you are getting yourself into and being informed and by doing so I would hope that would empower others to take that leap and experience unknown places first hand.

Also, having lived alone in a big city where I knew no one and had never visited before living there; I feel pretty confident about being able to get lost and found in this semi-new place or any place really. The thing is it’s a new place on the other side of an ocean, but I am not in a country where I don’t speak the language so that is a huge plus as far as subsiding any potential fears. If I didn’t speak the language I do think that might change things a bit but by doing research ahead of time I would not be too worried then either and neither should you. Be vigilant but don’t be scared. Embrace the adventure. Don’t let others’ fears or your own hold you back. Everything you have ever done was once something brand new; everywhere you have ever been was once a place you had never been before. 

When traveling I don’t think you should hold yourself back from going by waiting on others to be ready whether it be friends, searching & waiting for that special someone, family, or whomever. If you can make the time and come up with the money don’t wait. Go now! We all start somewhere and only get where we want to go by taking steps to get there. The only one stopping you is you.

It won’t be a super long trip alone because Richard will be meeting me so we can head out to Stonehenge but this solo experience will check off this bucket list item and who knows what this experience will bring! I have yet to decide exactly what I am going to be up to prior to Stonehenge so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. Where would you like to go? What is holding you back? Let’s help each other travel the world! Til next time Pengminions!

Active Life Choices Are The Key To Making Changes In Your Life

by Richard Furleigh

Conversations with different important people in my life combined with my own recent frustrations with not feeling like I’m creating as much as I want have led me to a deep reaffirmation of the following: anything you want to do has to start with an active choice.

When I say an active choice I do literally mean something that is an action (or lack thereof) in your life. Putting on your shoes and walking around the block, eating a carrot instead of chips, not buying that new game that just came out, putting pigment on that brush and applying it to the canvas. As long as it is something that physically moves you toward your final objective that is the crucial first step. It shows that it isn’t impossible to start, that accomplishing small tasks as part of the whole is do able, and even if it’s as small as going on that walk to start your diet you can point to it and say “I did that, and I can do this”

Recently I’ve been struggling with feeling like my time has constricted itself to the point that I have no time to be creative, to really create new content and art that I feel is important. So I’ve made two changes that I know will help me. First I’ve looked at other things that I have done this semester. I may not have made any “art” per say, //giphy.com/embed/RI6uwElqPErrq

A silly little thing I made, I call it “Penguin Execution”

but I have broadened my horizons with blogging, and making the couple videos for other classes. These are still very valuable skills to have in creative creation and framing that in that way has helped me feel a little better about it. Second I’ve decided that I will begin writing or editing a piece once a week for a minimum of 30 minutes without interruption, which means no cell phone! This is my actionable goal, and honestly I have to stick with it, just to get things down. I’ve told myself I’m not shooting for Shakespeare here, just getting words on the page is important because especially in the creative process sometimes you don’t know what you’re putting down is good until after it’s already there. I could also just write utter crap, but that could be the crap that spurs the golden thought, or the groundwork for a great scene after editing it. Honestly it doesn’t matter, just getting something done to progress my goal is the key to get things going.

When it comes to life and our choices it really does boil down to “if you always put in what you’ve always put in you’ll get in return what you’ve always gotten.” If you want to change something about your life then find one thing, it doesn’t even matter how small, and start there. Maybe you’re trying to write the next big movie script but can’t seem to get past character and world development. Cool, just writing even one line of dialogue a day is a start. The key here is to make a change that echoes across your life, to pull the trigger on something that is actionable to you.
So what is it that you have been putting off because it seems too daunting? What is that thing that you know you should do but just haven’t got around to it yet? Well, this is the time to do it. I’m not asking you to plan every tiny detail, but get a rough idea on where you want to go and start with one item. One task that will move you in the right direction. Once your done with that one, make another, and another, and…. But for now, just one, small, task, to finish is all you need. If someone needs a little advice, help them out, share this with them and offer to help them be accountable for their task. We can help each other grow and learn too. Until next time Pengminions!

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Journey to Virginia City

Living in Reno there are many interesting places to visit within a small radius. My favorite is probably Virginia City. Of course, Lake Tahoe is iconic and everyone must check it out but anytime we have family or friends visit us we always make a point to venture off in the opposite direction. We head to the old mining town of Virginia City.

Virginia City has a lot to offer for such a small town. Its old buildings are such a treat for the eyes to behold. Not only do the sights of the old building take you back but with the wooden sidewalks underfoot you become immersed in the old world. There are many unique shops throughout the main street of town. My favorite is a hatmaker, that creates custom hats in creative ways.

During the warmer months there are many events that take place that draw in a crowd each time. This weekend they are hosting an annual off road motorcycle race that brings in about 1,000 riders in an extremely competitive event. In September we attended our first International Camel and Ostrich race. I have never had so much goofy fun baking in the hot desert sun than while watching this event take place.

The views are breathtaking as well! There is something for everyone between what I mentioned above and the museums and tours offered as well.
If you get the chance I highly recommend this swell lil old town for a day or weekend trip. Everyone we take has had a blast. What are some of your favorite places to visit around where you are from? Do you have any hidden gems we should know about if we end up in your neck of the woods? Let us know in the comments below. Til next time Pengminions!

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Don’t Dread the Pre-Owned Wedding Dress

Wedding dress shopping is a little girl’s dream! That dream quickly becomes dread when reality hits and we go in and see the price tag associated with many of those dresses: Hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In most cases this is a one day event and the million dollar dress will be hung up for all eternity. For a big day your big dress doesn’t have to have a big price tag. There are a plethora of options that can help you save HUGE on a gorgeous gown for your big day.

We often look down on the used dress but let’s think about that for a minute. Often we rationalize buying an expensive gown because we think we will pass it down to our children one day. First, how frequently does that actually happen? And, second, isn’t that a used dress? Yes, there is a different connotation there but even so, it is not new. Let’s not knock it before we try it…on, at a price more pleasurable to our pocket books.

There are many sites online or boutiques/thrift stores that you can scour for the dress of your dreams. The “dress styles of the year” are designed by bridal magazines and the wedding industry to fool brides into thinking they have to purchase a brand new dress that matches the current trendy styles. Don’t buy into the consumerist mentality. Go out and choose a dress that suits you.

 

My advice is to go to try on many different dress styles to find the one that makes your heart sing and then go and scour those used dress websites or thrift and boutique stores to find the one that works for you at a fraction of the  brand new dress price. Even with alterations included you will come out way ahead.

It may take some self talk, but buying a used dress as opposed to a new dress will bring life once more to a dress that is meant to shine and not hide out in someones closet forever. Take a leap, go try on a used dress to get the feel of it, and you just might fall in love! What are some other places you have found to look for wedding dresses that don’t cost an arm and a leg? What are your thoughts on used wedding dresses? Let us know what you think in the comments below. We look forward to the discussion. Til next time Pengminions!

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Don’t Go Home to Visit Friends & Family, Meet Them Somewhere!

by Richard Furleigh

Going home to visit is a wonderful thing, getting to reconnect face to face with family and friends is a special time to say the least. The only real downside with this is you’re going back to a place that typically is unchanged and unless there is just some wonderfully amazing thing that you have to have in your life, there isn’t much more other than visiting those people that makes it worthwhile.

Instead why not have a destination visit home?

One of the ideas Kristen and I have been kicking around for a little bit is getting together with my parents (who still live in Texas) and rather than going to go visit them, having all of us meet up somewhere new! This idea struck us as we were talking one night and Kristen was lamenting the thought of going back to visit. “It’s not that I don’t want to see your folks, but your hometown is so lame.” In fairness, she is 100% correct on that one. “Why don’t we just go somewhere else and we can all meet up and hang out there?” And thus a grand idea was born.

Rather than have one set of people go to the other, have everyone meet up at a destination outside of their homes! Travel isn’t super cheap, so this lets us kill two birds with one stone in the sense of traveling to a place we want to visit, and getting to spend time with the people we love. On top of that, getting to experience new and exciting things with them will make the trip that much more memorable! I could go back to La Porte, or we have fun in Hawaii and talk about our lives there. Call me crazy but one sounds a lot more fun than the other.

Of course you want to take the time to get input from as many parties as possible before deciding where exactly you want to go. For example we have decided to go on an Alaskan cruise in the summer of 2018 with my family. Both my Mom and sister were excited about the possibility of seeing whales, Kristen gets to check another state off her list, my Dad loves boats and wants to visit Alaska really bad, and I’m looking forward to the off boat excursions that we can do in the wild north. So there is something for everyone to be excited about.

Are there any friend or family visits coming up for you? Try to change it into a group vacation instead! Rally the troops and find a place everyone can find something fun to do. It promises to be a much different time than a typical visit back to the homestead. Until next time Pengminions!

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Why Kristen and I Almost Didn’t Get Married (For a Good Reason)

by Richard Furleigh

The decision to get married is a big one; one of the biggest of your life. The decision to spend the rest of your life with one person is daunting to say the least. Now, Kristen and I love each other (a lot) but when talking about the rest of our lives we had a serious debate whether we wanted to get married or not. We definitely wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, but the question was the paperwork behind it.

It wasn’t until more recent history when governments at a local and state level began requiring licensing for marriages; starting around the mid 19th century.  Prior to that announcements in newspapers or by word of mouth in communities was accompanied by a simple ceremony without all the lavish trappings of modern weddings.

For Kristen and I it came down to a few things. One, we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and didn’t need a piece of paper telling us that. Two, those pieces of paper do cost money to get in addition to the time required to go get them processed. So in many respects it just felt like an unnecessary step in our lives.

The United States however thinks otherwise in many respects. Unless we wanted to jump through a ton of other legal hoops at various points in our lives, being married is one of the only ways to ensure life with your chosen partner is smooth in the legal sense. End of life care, life insurance, health insurance, taxes, offspring rights, even renting an apartment all become massively more difficult to navigate if you are “together” but not married. On top of that, with our name change we would have had a harder time convincing a judge to allow it.

In the end we did get married in Harris County, but only for the simplicity of legal processes throughout our lives. I really wish the US and it’s states made unmarried life for committed couples a little more accommodating in this respect because, as I stated, it really just feels unnecessary. We love each other and choose to be together and we don’t need a document to tell us that.

We do know there are couples out there who have chosen to go without that paper, and we would love to hear from you so some of our other readers can be informed too! What issues have you run into and how have you overcome them? Do you have any recommendations for others who may think about doing the same? Let us know down below and thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge! Until next time Pengminions!!

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Your Wedding Decor For LESS

What seems to be the most daunting task is also in my opinion the most fun when it comes to weddings. The decor. From picking colors to theme to the little details. These things can also often come at a hefty price. It doesn’t have to however. If you plan enough in advance you can actually do most if not all of it yourself. I know there is the dreaded “Pinterest Fail” but fear not; there are plenty of easy to do craft ideas that will save you money.

When putting together your wedding remember that all inclusive or renting might seem like an enticing option and my guess is, it is easy, but I have found out that when purchasing the items you need like chair covers, table runners, decorations, place settings at a similar price as renting would be it is more cost beneficial for you. When you are done with those items you can turn around and sell them afterwards. The awesome thing about that is even if you don’t sell every piece after your shindig you could effectively not pay a dime or at the very least much less than had they been supplied for you. These items you could even save for later use. Maybe you like to host brunch or a party; you would be all set. The best part is you spend less on your wedding!

a centerpieceLet’s talk about flowers. Most brides can’t wait to have fresh flowers throughout but we all know that those truly cost an arm and a leg. If you can’t live without and are determined to have fresh flowers for your wedding I suggest finding simple arrangements that you could do yourself or just a couple single flowers for your table settings. Rather than calling up your local florist try your grocery stores or budget stores that do fresh flowers, Sam’s, Costco, just to name a few. You should go ahead of time to order the flowers in bulk for the day you need them. Discuss with them the state (bloomed or not and how long before they do) that your flowers will arrive so you can make a decision on when you need your order to arrive and the care to take so they will be beautiful for your big day. This one thing alone will save you hundreds!

The decorations throughout don’t have to be lavish. If you are willing to have similar but not identical set pieces thrift stores are your best friend. If you haven’t figured it out yet; I LOVE THRIFT STORES! Have an idea for theme and you can find some great pieces at fractions of the price that will fit your style. Craigslist is another great resource. Like you will hopefully be doing, other brides will sell off their pieces after their big day. Another fun personal thing you can do is place tiny photos of your relationship on the tables; this adds a nice touch to let your guests into some of your adventures as a couple. It is also relatively cheap to do at Walgreens. You can even make your own table ornaments by saving glass sauce jars and fashioning them to fit your style.

Each of these are things that Richard and I did for our wedding and it came out beautifully. What have you done to save on your wedding decor or have you tried some of the things we did? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments! Til next time Pengminions!

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Finding A Wedding Venue

When starting to plan for your wedding one of the biggest choices you have to make is the venue. Venues come in all shapes and sizes and determine when, where, and how you get to celebrate your wedding day and reception. When picking a venue Richard and I knew we did not want to break the bank but since we were going to be inviting about 60-70 people we knew we needed space. We also knew that cost was our greatest concern. To start we definitely, for s’s and g’s, looked at your more traditionally utilized spaces for weddings. They were: $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and often they didn’t include everything unless you want to pay even more!

*Dead*

So, once we reinforced our gut feelings we sought out alternatives. We knew that we were not looking for an all-inclusive venue because food, alcohol, decorations, cake, flowers, ect. we could and wanted to do ourselves; besides knowing we could find it much cheaper than if we had it included in the venue. We went with a basic, bare community center in Texas knowing we could turn it into something all our own. All for the great big price of, $350. There are many community resources out there that offer spaces indoor and outdoor to hold your event and for a fraction of the cost of most wedding venues.

Before: Venue

Some alternatives can be, depending on size and what you are wanting to do, are:

1.) A local or even destination park – You can often rent spaces at community parks for almost nothing. You might not even have to pay if it is super small.

2.) A beach – Just do your research early on for potential permit requirements or restrictions.

3.) Community centers -They offer spaces that are sometimes really basic and bare and other times quite beautiful. They almost always will be many times cheaper than a true wedding venue.

4.) Have a backyard wedding – If you, family or friends have a nice house that wouldn’t mind offering up their home for your big day you could make it an extremely budget friendly wedding.

5.) The great outdoors – Even some National Parks offer the ability to hold your event in beautiful locations. Check out some of these suggestions, here.

6.) Have your wedding on an off-peak day (during the week) or during the off season.

7.) Use your creativity! You can get married almost literally anywhere! Use venue search terms that don’t include “wedding” and you might find something perfect that you may have missed otherwise.

The greatest key here is start doing your research early. Some of these ideas fill up swiftly like normal wedding venues so getting the process started early is important. Some don’t require as much prep or any permits but you should make sure you find out ahead of time so you know what you are getting yourself into.

Find out the requirements and restrictions when you are researching so you know what you can and cannot expect from a particular site. You don’t want to have paid for particular elements like a band, decorations, alcohol, ect to find out the day of they are not allowed. Know what you want and what you are willing to do without. Not every THING is as important as it may seem. Save money and just enjoy spending time with the people you are sharing this all with.

Remember it is supposed to be an experience of a life time not an experience you end up paying for for a whole life time. What are some unique ideas you have for a wedding ceremony, reception, or both? How were you able to save money planning your wedding? Let us know in the comments; we love hearing about your experiences. Til next time Pengminions!

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Hubris

“It’s often foolish pride that tells us we’re not wrong” – What If I Was Nothing? by All That Remains (one of my favorite hard rock love songs, who says headbangers can’t have feelings too?!)

When it comes to relationships I feel pretty confident in saying that this one thing more than almost anything else is the killer. Yes your ex’s of the past may have been slobs, or didn’t show they cared, or were too controlling, or any other slew of problems. But, peel back the layers however and I’m willing to say that a lack of true consideration for the other person stemming from an inflated sense of ego is at the root of it all. Even in my relationship with Kristen, which I think we work pretty well together most of the time, I see the telltale signs on both ends of arguments.

Acknowledging this lurking monster has been one of the greatest challenges of my adult life. Looking back I can see how this one thing has torpedoed past relationships with people, and strained others with family and friends. So what exactly have I been doing and how can it maybe help you?

  • For starters it helps to try to keep a level head before the real argument even starts, once things begin to go red it’s too late. Understanding that in most cases the other person isn’t genuinely trying to be mean, it’s just a matter of how you’re interpreting the situation that is leading you down this path. Back up a little bit and try to understand where they are coming from.
  • If you find yourself getting agitated during a conversation ask yourself why is it that you feel that way? Exploring the rationale behind your emotions is a powerful tool to not only understanding the situation better but understanding yourself.
  • Learning to take criticism (even about small things) is pivotal. People don’t like feeling like they’re nagging, but if something is out of place or unclean there is then good reason to bring it up. General cleanliness can make items easier to find for future use, and can lend to a general sense of well-being. Not helping the other person feel good about their living situation is selfish to say the least.
  • On the flip side of that one, learn to let some small things go. Not every blanket, shoe, and cup has to be put back 100% of the time. Much in the same way that letting go of your ego about not needing to “keep everything perfect” isn’t helpful; insisting that everything be in it’s perfect little place isn’t either  and can be just as selfish. Balance is sometimes found in the grey areas.

These are only a few of the tools I’ve employed, but much of it comes down to self monitoring. That in itself is another crucial tool for life but here it has such a profound impact, if you are honest with yourself and allow yourself to grow out of it.

The next time you find yourself approaching argument territory in life pause for a moment and ask yourself why? If you’re honest I bet you’ll find a completely different way to navigate the situation in a much more positive way! If you have any other tips feel free to leave them below! Until next time Pengminions.

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