Interweb Finds: Body farms, homemade cookie butter & more

Bradbury building

Oh hey guys. Remember me?

I’m officially on Thanksgiving break, which means I finally feel like I have a moment to exhale, relax and get back to this blogging space I love so dearly. I’m sorry I’ve left you so long.

A few updates from my world: I’m working on a couple of longer stories that I’m really excited about (and hope I can find a home for). I’ve made some very tough but what I hope will be rewarding decisions to take career-related risks that one day I might not have the luxury of taking. (As in, when those student loan bills start rolling in.) And John and I are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the second year in a row. (This time, with his sister as our guest!) All very exciting things. I’m planning on having a much-needed catch-up session on my blog reader this week, but I’d love to hear what’s going on in your lives.

I thought this space was about due for roundup of the best web finds from the past couple of weeks. Check ’em out!

How to make homemade cookie butter. (I die.)

Good news for grumpy people: they get the details right.

If you’re fascinated and awed by all things morbid, check out this piece on body farms and how they’re used to learn about the decomposition process.

“The bodies are donated and left out in the elements as part of research aimed at better understanding the process of decomposition, mainly to assist in criminal investigations. When an unidentified body turns up, the first question police typically ask is how long ago the person died — and the observations made at body farms have been crucial in allowing them to answer it.”

Did you see the video of the woman getting catcalls all day as she silently walked around New York City? Here’s a hilarious video depicting what it’s like to walk around as a white guy in NYC for 10 hours.

Best gift ever: a woman wondered if she and her mom would’ve been friends if they weren’t mother and daughter. So she Photoshopped pictures of both of them growing up and the results are perfect.

You should move at least five times in your life.

Check out this awesome, trippy and totally acoustic instrument handmade by the artist playing it. I’d like to meditate in that room.

Is Banksy a woman? This writer makes a case for it. (And if you haven’t seen Banksy Does New York yet, it’s a great documentary available on HBO.)

Here’s how Alexandra Franzen met the love of her life.

“I also expressed — by ticking the appropriate boxes in my profile setting — that I was interested in a long-term relationship. Not short-term-and-let’s-see-where-this-goes. Not casual. Long. Term. Love. That was the truth, so that’s what I put.”

The Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles has its very own gay wing unlike anything else in any other jail or prison. Instead of violence and racism, there is fashion and love. (My badass classmate and friend Ani Ucar knocked it out of the park with her first cover story in L.A. Weekly!)

Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Stephanie from Loudmouth Lifestyle talks openly about her own experience with self-doubt and gives us all a much-needed reminder of realizing our worth.

On a similar note, Hannah Brencher kills it with this one: you can’t be all the things.

 

That’s all for this week! I promise not to be gone so long again this time—after the holiday, I’ll have another featured Feminist to Follow.

In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving! How are you celebrating?

The “Lucky” Ones – An interview with circus performer & entrepreneur Sarah Morgan

I’ve been following today’s interviewee’s blog for a couple of years now and have always loved her style & insight. Now, I’m happy to introduce to you Sarah Morgan!

xosarah-headshot

Two years ago, Sarah Morgan quit her job and ran off with the circus. Literally. And as a web designer, business consultant, entrepreneur, blogger, aerial instructor and, yes, circus performer, she’s spent the past couple of years encouraging and teaching others how to follow their own passions as boldly as she has—while wearing many hats.

Sarah’s blog, xoSarah, is a showcase of both her aerial artistry and web design prowess, and through it, Sarah has established herself as an authority on solid web design and blogging how-to. She just recently published her second ebook, How to Double Your Blog Traffic in 90 Days (or Less!) and launched the Badass Babes Blog Club + E-Course for bloggers who want to amp up their own online spaces. When she’s not dominating the interwebs, she’s swinging from aerial silks as part of The Weird Sisters trio.

Welcome, Sarah!

Your talents are so varied! But let’s start with joining the circus. How did you get into aerial arts, and when did you decide to make it a profession along with your fellow Weird Sisters?

I randomly signed up for an aerial class just over four years ago as something fun to do and trained for about two years before we began to perform. Over the next year we ended up booking a lot of shows and at the same time my design business had grown enough that I was able to make those my full-time occupations. Soon after I added teaching aerial to the list as well.

How do you discipline your body to stay fit for such a physically demanding job? Do you have a regular routine you abide by?

I teach six to eight classes a week, so just going to work keeps me in shape for aerial. Since I’m in the air so often it’s more about injury prevention than building strength or flexibility. My routine is what we cover in class: cardio, abs, climbing, skill-building, stretching.

Describe the most interesting/random/weird event you’ve ever performed in.

We perform at a giant Halloween show every year called Theatre Bizarre. It’s not weird at all to me, but the random person off the street might be totally shocked by what they find inside. Contortion, burlesque, suspension, fire spinning/eating, strange sideshow acts—there’s really no way to describe it, it’s something you have to experience. This past year we performed as super sexy bearded ladies and fit right in. Here’s a video.

Sarah Morgan

On top of all that you also have your own successful web design business. How do you juggle these two very different jobs?

Calendars! I make sure to schedule everything and have five calendars to keep track of each aspect of my life. (That sounds nuts now that I’ve written it down, haha.) I don’t adhere to a super strict schedule for design work, which keeps me from feeling overwhelmed, but I know what needs to get done and when.

What are some of the biggest challenges that come with your professions? Do you ever experience self-doubt?

Personally, because I have two full-time jobs, it’s making sure I schedule my life in a way that I have time to take care of myself. Today I had rehearsal for three hours, then I came home and worked, and then I go back to the studio to teach and rehearse for two hours tonight. I have enough work to put me in the air or in front of my computer 16 hours a day every single day, so I’ve gotten really good at saying no and taking on only what I can handle.

I generally don’t feel self-doubt, which makes me sound like an over-confident jerk I’m sure. I suppose that if I’m going to do something I’m just going to do it, and worrying if I’m not good enough or going to fail isn’t helpful. I’m aware of both possibilities, but I deal with it after the fact instead of letting it slow me down or stop me from what I want to accomplish.

What was it like making the leap to total self-employment? Are you happier on this new path?

I had gotten to the point of being so unhappy at my corporate job I was essentially a real-life version of the movie Office Space. When I decided I was going to leave about 9 months before my escape, I became super motivated and excited to work on my side hustle. I prepared enough in advance that when my last day at work arrived I didn’t have any worries. It felt extremely freeing and I’m so so much happier working for myself.

Sarah Morgan

If you could live by one mantra, what would it be?

“Whether you think you can or think you cant, you’re right” – Henry Ford (there’s that no self-doubt thing again!)

What are some of your favorite books? Favorite blogs?

I really loved Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. It’s about marketing your business by sharing why you do what you do instead of what you do. AKA “I’m passionate about helping creative businesses build online homes that allow them to share what they love” vs. “I’m a web designer who makes beautiful and functional websites.” It really changed the way I market my business and my blog.

For bloggers I’m always inspired by Alexandra FranzenMarie ForleoThe Middle Finger Project and Betty Means Businesslots of badass ladies talking about building powerful online empires.

 

Thanks, Sarah, for sharing your story! Have any question for Sarah, or just love what she has to say? Let her know in the comments!

Interweb Finds: loving words, a photo essay on cancer & more

@wittycassiehere on Instagram

This weekend, I ditched the 2008 flip phone and traded it in for an iPhone. I was skeptical at first about joining this “club” but quickly got over that. I’m having way too much fun swiping back and forth between screens and am already improving my texting skills. (Those letters are so tiny!) I’m also now on Instagram, so if you’re there too, let’s be Instagram friends! If you have any suggestions for apps I just MUST have as a blogger/photographer/person who doesn’t know how to change a tire, let me know in the comments.

Here are some of my favorite web finds this week:

For the past three months, I’ve written for the delicately named Pooping Rainbows blog. Here’s my latest piece, “It takes so little.”

We are all writers (and, as Alexandra Franzen points out, we average more than 40,000 words per year in emails alone). So if you’ve ever found yourself saying, “I hate writing,” think about what you really mean, and then use these suggestions to get excited about words again.

These Hong Kong “apartments” are so small, they can only be photographed from above. (And I cannot believe that home prices there average at $1,300 per square foot.)

A beautiful essay by a California writer on being a “California writer.”

The site 99u is one of my favorite new finds. Here are two recent articles: Are you (subconsciously) afraid of success? And two epiphanies on negotiating—and seeing it as a challenge, not a threat.

A heartbreaking and poignant photographic essay: “The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer.” Warning: You will be moved and cry.

Give me. I love everything about this Apartment Therapy L.A. house tour—pink and green bath tile included.

 

Read or find anything good on the webz lately? Leave a link here, and don’t forget those app recommendations. I’m off to soak up the rest of my long weekend—Happy Easter!