The “selfie” generation

by Richard Furleigh

If you don’t laugh at Kristen’s snapchat filter of George you’re sense of humor has died, but I digress…

Having visited London and Rome this past summer Kristen and I spent quite a while inside some of the most spectacular museums this planet has to offer. From the British National Gallery, British Museum, Pompeii, the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Paul’s Cathedral we were astounded and surrounded by some of the most exquisite pieces imaginable from many millennia of history. As the hours inside these various establishments accumulated though we began to notice certain things, and information given to us shed light on a similar modern thing: the selfie.

If, by some miracle, or lack of reading any recent news articles, you may not be aware that my generation gets blamed for a lot pretty much everything. One of the things that comes up time and time again is that we are entitled, vain, and selfish. Talking heads point over and over to the use of social media and the pictures we post of ourselves at different places, or the use of filters to look better as examples of this vanity. Yet look at the British National Portrait Gallery, this is one of Britain’s larger museums that is essentially filled with nothing BUT selfies. Yes I know they are “classic paintings showing the most important people in history” but why did they have them painted in the first place? Historically there were very few if any painters who just roamed the countryside waiting for important events to happen and then swoop in to paint those who were involved. No, it was because through history people (and when I say “people” read those with the wealth and power to make it happen) commissioned artists to paint their likeness, in some cases, just to show just how rich and powerful they were.

While in Rome we also learned what I thought was one of the most fascinating facts about sculptures I have ever heard. Many sculptures smoothed out harsh features or did away with others that were socially disliked to make the subject look better. Photoshoping apparently started in the 700’s BCE… Yet no one wants to look at these facts when demonizing us for being socially engaged.

As with almost everything else, the progression of technology brought us cameras which put photography within grasp of more and more people until here I am with a very high quality digital camera on my phone. The ease and the ability to capture a picture takes almost no effort and costs nothing compared to the days and thousands of dollars classical paintings took. Paintings pale still to the months and even more thousands a sculpture took to make. Why not take advantage of the modern age and share with my friends and family our latest adventures? Why point to the guy taking selfies as dumb and into himself? This is nothing humans for thousands of years haven’t already done, they just weren’t capable of mass producing them. I mean, if we’re being honest, even the pyramids, while fascinating now, were essentially big exclamations of “I’M SO IMPORTANT LOOK AT THIS!”

I hope I’ve at least shed some historical light on self portraits, digital and otherwise, so that we can all look at them a little differently rather than with such a negative overtone. If you get the chance though go check out any of the museums we were able to visit on our summer travels, and spend some real time in there exploring. I promise it will be worth it. Until next time Pengminions!

Follow us on
Twitter: @findingfurleigh & @richardfurleigh
Instagram: @findingfurleigh
Facebook: @FurleighFotography

Advertisements

Travel After Terror

Kristen and I recently returned from a fantastic vacation overseas to London for our MBA program, and then continued on to Italy after that. Having traveled overseas a couple times before this we were relatively familiar with what to prep for, but before our departure to London something new popped up.

May 22nd was the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert just outside of Manchester killing 22 individuals and injuring 250, and less than two weeks later, on June 3rd, was the London Bridge/Borough Market incident with 8 people dead and at least 48 injured. Kristen was scheduled to leave on June 11th with me behind her on the 16th (she was able to get more time off and her flight was cheaper. I was jealous).  I want to commend the University and Jim McClenahan for their actions leading up to the London trip for their assurances and the dialogue provided to students who had concerns.

For Kristen and I however, we were not particularly concerned. Not to say that in any way that we were completely apathetic to the situation, but rather, knowing we would just be a little more alert than normal on a trip that we would be fine. From some of our friends and family we got the expected “be careful!” which was appreciated, but what we told them was how we were looking at the situation: there are a myriad of dangers inherent with living in any major city that could strike on any given day. Someone could run their car through pedestrians, an elevator could malfunction, simply going to work, or someone could just find your body one day. It sounds trite in a way to say that simply going about your daily life could kill you, and maybe that’s why we block it out, try to pretend it doesn’t exist, but it does.

The only thing I made sure to do while in both countries was to pay a little more attention to what was going on around me. I kept my head out of my phone while walking around and made sure to be a little more alert to the actions of others. I also made sure to keep an eye behind me from time to time as well, people sometimes forget that not all threats make themselves apparent in front of them. On June 19th there was another terror event in London, this time while we were there, when a man drove his van through a crowd leaving a Mosque after prayers in apparent retaliation. Fortunately we were nowhere nearby and we didn’t have any other incidents in either country.

The main point here is that something could happen to you at just about any time, and while we should live like we expect to live a long time and take care of ourselves, we also shouldn’t let the possibility of that life being cut short from keeping us from enjoying our time here on this little blue rock to the fullest extent possible. Trite though it may be I know I don’t want to be 90 in a rocking chain thinking about all the things in my life I could have done if only I’d not been so scared.

If you have any trips coming up what are some of the things you do to prep for them from a safety standpoint? Any other tips for day to day or travel? Let us know down below and get out there to enjoy life! Until next time Pengminions!

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

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!

Follow us on
Twitter: @findingfurleigh & @richardfurleigh
Instagram: @findingfurleigh
Facebook: @FurleighFotography

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!

Follow us on
Twitter: @findingfurleigh & @richardfurleigh
Instagram: @findingfurleigh
Facebook: @FurleighFotography

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!!

Follow us on
Twitter: @findingfurleigh & @richardfurleigh
Instagram: @findingfurleigh
Facebook: @FurleighFotography

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.

Follow us on
Twitter: @findingfurleigh & @richardfurleigh
Instagram: @findingfurleigh
Facebook: @FurleighFotography

The Furleighs in San Francisco

When work inadvertently schedules you three days off in a row what do you do? Pack up the car, get a pet sitter, and take a quick trip of course! Following up on some of our travels I present to you our time in San Francisco.

Day one was venturing to the infamous Alcatraz Island. The island itself was surprisingly beautiful if you took away the giant steel and concrete looming over you. Getting inside to see the prison however was intimidating and even a little inspiring. If you’ve never visited it isn’t until once you’re inside that the true magnitude of the whole place hits you. It’s almost unsettling to think of the history such a facility has, and surprising some of the tales of reform that came from inside. One of the more dramatic stories from Alcatraz has nothing to do with it’s time as a prison, but after it was abandoned. First nation peoples took up residence for a period from November 1969 to June 1971 declaring the island belonging to all native people. We left the island and proceeded to walk, everywhere, for the rest of the day. Coit tower, Chinatown, and the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre.

Walking through Chinatown was almost surreal, hearing almost no English being spoken around us and seeing almost all signs written in another language was a very different experience. While there we stopped by Boba Guys, which without a doubt had the best boba tea Kristen or I have ever had. We wrapped up at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, which is simply spectacular. The entire space made me want to perform a Shakespeare production right then and there. By the time we were done however I was tapped out, and we had to take a Lyft back to our car since I felt like I was about to get some massive blisters otherwise.

Day two started out with us at nearby Muir Woods national Monument, one of the last places on Earth with naturally growing redwood trees. The colloquial use of “walking among sleeping giants” was exceptionally apt here with trunks the size of cars that would then shoot into the sky making you hurt yourself in an attempt to actually see the tops. The adventurous penguins we are we ventured off onto one of the side paths to get away from the crowds and get into the woods a little more. It was well worth it as the beauty of the area revealed itself more and more in the quiet. Once we left there we hung out a little in San Francisco before heading to The Exploratorium and met up with one of Kristen’s friends from back in Victoria, Sarah.

I had never heard of The Exploratorium until we researched places to see in San Francisco, but I am so glad we were able to get there since it’s pretty much a giant science/art/physics/natural world playground for adults. Needless to say we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We parted ways with Sarah and headed off to meet another friend who lived in the area. We met with Sydney after she got done with her rehearsal for her show she was working on. The local bar we met at had a great vibe to it and had a stellar home made sour mix, which led to a phenomenal amaretto sour for Kristen. Our evening ended at a karaoke bar that was hosted by a karaoke DJ who also happened to play the harmonica, sing all the background vocals, and play the saxophone.

On our last day we finally got San Francisco’s famous crummy weather which was a bummer, but we came prepared! So we tossed on our rain gear and got out to Golden Gate Park for some exploring. We meandered about for a bit before going into the Japanese Tea Garden for some afternoon refreshments. The site was beautifully kept; flowers, koi ponds, manicured trees, and more awaited us as we walked the paths. After enjoying a pot of tea we headed across the street to the Botanical Gardens which had me entertained and Kristen mesmerized. The scale of the plants that thrived in such conditions was quite astonishing, and venturing to other parts of the world’s flora in such a small space was fantastic. We wrapped up our time in the bay by meeting up with Kristen’s mother and another friend, Dylan, for dinner and a stroll along the Ghirardelli Square toward the piers. After buying two pounds of sourdough from Boudin’s (all for me!) we said our goodbyes and it was back to Reno.

All in all our first extended trip to San Francisco was exceptionally amazing, full of adventures, and made even more enjoyable by our friends we met while there (thanks guys and gals!). Do you have any trips coming up shortly? Any places you think we should check out the next time we get down to the bay area? Let us know down below!

Until next time Pengminions!

 

Follow us on
Twitter: @findingfurleigh & @richardfurleigh
Instagram: @findingfurleigh
Facebook: @FurleighFotography

Using Fear and Anxiety

Kristen and I don’t exactly live in the best part of town. As mentioned before, this is a conscious choice to save a lot of money each month on rent. Walking my dog outside last night I saw a man about 100 feet from me walking through our little parking area with something that resembled a large shop broom. I won’t lie, I felt a twinge of anxiety despite the fact that the man wasn’t particularly close to me nor had he even looked in my direction. He made his way along as Oliver stood there, peeing in the grass, and as I headed inside.

I thought back to other similar experiences when I was younger and how I wasn’t affected in quite the same way. I thought about the naivety that youth gives to us and how it empowers us to make bolder choices in life. I thought about how I’ve gotten older and sometimes that isn’t there in the same way. This seems to be a universal thing for people, and at least for me I think it has more to do with coming to terms with the reality of our world. We never know exactly how much time we have left so we become trepidatious, reluctant to pull the trigger on risky situations in life.

So how do we take this nervousness and make something positive out of it? In my  acting classes we talked about this often since we actors actually do get nervous. As well, in “The Originals” by Adam Grant, we get very similar advice on controlling it. Simply put, DON’T control it! It’s exceptionally difficult to stop a speeding car so instead of pumping the brakes in vain, redirect your energy. The best performances I’ve ever done, the best interviews I’ve ever had weren’t because I’m a zen master who can control his heart rate and cortisol, but because I was able to funnel the energy into focus, into excitement instead of fear, to embrace its chaotic nature and use it in a way that worked FOR me instead of against.

There are times in life when, as Kristen talked about earlier, that overcoming these fears is critical. So I add to that, embrace the fear, make it your tool rather than an anchor. It is not a perfect system, and I can tell you that there are times when it wins, but this is one tactic in my arsenal that I know works for me, and I hope it can work for you too.
Do you have any tricks for pushing through stresses and fears? Let us know down below, and if you know someone who has something big coming up (or maybe you do!) share this with them so they can have a little help too. Until next time Pengminions!

Follow us on
Twitter: @findingfurleigh & @richardfurleigh
Instagram: @findingfurleigh
Facebook: @FurleighFotography

Our Anniversary Wine

by Richard Furleigh

New Zealand. It’s kinda an awesome place that we may or may not have gone to on our honeymoon three years ago. Pssst, we totally did. One thing the country is know for is it’s wine.DSC_0774

Pictured is us at Greystone, one of the many excellent vineyards on the southern island. Our time at Greystone was so exceptional that we ended up buying a bottle of their Basket Star Riesling (2011) to take with us back to the US. As the bottle sat around we ended up deciding to save it and open our special honeymoon choice on our one year anniversary. It was even better than I remembered.

After that I began to wonder, as I saw other wines at different stores I began to think back to our time abroad and got an idea. It took a year and a half of searching (mostly because our taste in wine is so different) but we finally found one that we thought was good enough for our plan. The plan: find a wine that both of us enjoy that was made in New Zealand in 2014, then buy a case and open one every five years on our anniversary.

There was just something special about finding a wine that was crafted the same year we trod the ground where they grew 7,000 miles from where we now live. These bottles get to grow in depth and complexity along side us, and for the next 50 years we will have a special reminder of one of the greatest adventures the Penguin couple ever embarked on. Happy third anniversary Kristen, PenGLAP, I love you to Sirius and back!

Follow us on
Twitter: @findingfurleigh & @richardfurleigh
Instagram: @findingfurleigh
Facebook: @FurleighFotography