Kindness in its essence is a trait sometimes undervalued and often forgotten.
Yet a few words carefully selected, or simply left unspoken can mean the difference between a smile and a tear. We speak of intention, of gratitude and karma, but a simple act of selfless kindness is all it can take to brighten or soften the days of at least two people.
It is present in babies when they are born, no child comes into this world with a preconceived idea of malice or hatred, we arrive with the capacity to love unconditionally, yet slowly that capability becomes ground down and chipped away over the years. In some minds, the potential for love, charity or altruism becomes crystallised, growing in new forms, in others a sort of calcification takes place, a smooth, hardened shell presents itself to the world.
I might like to add here, that I do not write this from some rose-tinted cloud of kindness and empathy. I write this from my kitchen table, where I am slumped. I dragged myself here across the carpet because today I had a panic attack and I had to leave work. I have felt the rumblings of one for the past week or so, but some loose-lipped words this morning sent me over the edge, and as I lay on my bed in that hazy aftermath where you feel completely empty and a little bit numb. I decided that the best thing to do was something constructive with this feeling (I also had to stop the day from feeling wasted).
To draw us back to my favourite analogy, life on a boat actually offers up a wonderful platform for kindness.
To be at sea grants us a condensed version of the outside world, yes it is archaic and often patriarchal, but it relies on wanting to keep one another alive. We depend on one another, knowing that the task ahead would be so much harder if not impossible alone. That self-reliant entity that is your ship, allows you to shed the skin of daily life, removing all other roles and responsibilities aside from sailing, eating, sleeping and how you will progress from A to B. Each change of direction is predetermined by a greater force, you cannot fight the wind, you can only harness it in order to move forward. Maybe this applies to our emotions, to anger or frustration? Bottling them up inside will rarely relinquish them, you may only harness that energy in order to move forward. Then there are the consequences of careless harsh words in an environment fuelled by broken sleeping patterns and constant movement. Not only are those words magnified but there is no easy exit, you are with those people for better or for worse, so please let's be kind. These words are easy to write, the thoughts are easy to form. The hard part is in the heat of the moment when you are distracted or angry. I do not claim that it is possible to constantly check yourself for thoughts of anger. The freedom to express our thoughts, ideas and emotions in any way that we like is a human luxury, we must try only not to exploit it. If you are granted words, please use them kindly. If you are granted authority, please use it wisely.
Photographer Alex McDonald has shared dozens of photo essays with us over the years. This one was a few years ago and remains one of our favorites.
WHY MUST WE PROTECT OUR PUBLIC LANDS
ESSAY BY AMY HAYDEN || PHOTOGRAPHY BY PAIGE DENKIN
The question was asked...why must we protect our public lands and parks... Amy Hayden responded with a beautiful essay
Here is a simple history lesson for you. You do realize that's how these places became national parks. Someone wandered onto the land and saw the beauty and decided it needed to be known that it was a beautiful, majestic wonder the earth created, and it needed to be known that there were many people that came before us and they put their mark on it and called it home. And when decades later it was discovered people went to great lengths to protect it, and to teach others about it, to help preserve such a wonder, a rare beauty. Beauties that every state in our country once had tons of and now everyday we are losing more of them from natural disasters and political disasters. If no one stepped foot into these areas there would be no beauty to admire. No one would know or care about such places. We'd be suffocating with cities filled to the brim with people.
These places are our history, my history, Native American runs through my blood and I would love to know what my ancestors experienced before I die, so I too can find a way to leave my mark on this earth for future generations to see and experience when I'm long gone. To remember who came before them as we are now remembering who came before us. That's what national parks/monuments are all about. To teach us to be grateful, to show us that we were not just handed all this. It's to teach us that one day this world will no longer exist in the beauty we see it today. Stepping foot into such a place is not killing it, it's making it a beautiful memory. But drilling and mining miles down underneath it, Say goodbye resources this beautiful land survives on. Say hello to a wasteland caused by greedy, power hungry humans. Open your eyes and see the answers are in these places.
IN HER OWN WORDS
I grew up in Maryland, a sort of grounded daydreamer. I have always been creative, so I decided that I would study interior design. In school I learned a lot about the foundations of design, processes, and shaping space. I have always drawn inspiration from the seasons, natural light, textures—and their contrast. I love linens and silks, birch bark, flower petals, worn cobblestones...anything I can find pattern and texture in inspires me.
I started a blog five years ago as a creative outlet for my design and began experimenting more with photography. I spent time developing my technical and composition skills and finding my own style. Today I specialize in food, still life, and travel photography.
I've always been filled with a global curiosity, and I feel most alive when traveling and exploring the world. I'm fascinated by foreign cultures and traditions and how people live. The details and textures that can be found while traveling are amazingly intricate, if you take the time to notice. I use these details like puzzle pieces in my design, each one an important element in the final product.
My husband, our bulldog Kane, and I recently relocated to Minneapolis. We're thrilled about the adventure, and although the winters are a lot to bear, there is a vibrancy to the culture here. I've made some great friends in the creative community, and am energized by the maker spirit. I started a series on my blog about Minnesota makers with trades like glassblowing, leather-working, woodworking, and painting. There are many fantastic goods that are made right here in our community, and I love sharing their stories.
In addition to having a deep passion for travel, I have a great yearning for the calm life at home. Slow mornings with coffee and a good book or sunny afternoons with an open bottle of wine. I love throwing on Frank Sinatra and creating a meal with my husband...these are the moments that make up our lives, and I think being intentional about how we spend our moments is truly important.
WALES ON FILM
A PHOTO ESSAY BY CHRIS BUXTON
Wales is the mountainous western cousin of England, a Celtic link to the past with over 1,180 km or 730 mi for us using the imperial system of coastline, and 50 islands decorating it. Boasting three national parks and the Heritage Coast, Wales is an untapped land of adventure. Chris Buxton, a lifestyle photographer based in Wales in the United Kingdom, uses 35mm film for most of his practice. He relies on film to achieve a feeling that digital cameras can't capture naturally.
Living in Wales, he'd never really travelled around the Welsh landscape and finally decided to explore it with his second set of eyes, his camera. "I was very shocked by how beautiful this country truly is," says Chris, "it has shown me that everyone needs to explore their own homes to see where they're truly from." Chris tries to capture the natural and inner beauty of the landscape of his homeland and put it on the maps of like-minded soul-searchers and explorers hoping to find a new destination and a new adventure.