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Hipsters, you’ve ruined so many good words. Can we reclaim the meanings?

I’m showing back up here because the Instagram account @socalitybarbie came on my radar this week (I know, it’s already old news in Internet Time) and I was so entertained/horrified/awed by its 14-week rise to 1m+ followers and the fact that it’s come up in my week like six times already that I started to think about it. A lot. And then decided to share with you my thoughts on why it’s so #onfleek / spellbinding.

But first. In case you are not familiar.

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The genius of @socalitybarbie is that she calls out not only the practice of curating the aesthetics of your life into perfect little squares, but also the turning-into-cliche of words like community. Authentic. Connecting. Adventure. Do you read any of those and cringe? I’m particularly heartbroken over ‘adventure’ because it always was one of my favorite words. And I’ve been using it since high school, thank you very much. Ugh.

I’m not here to go into why the satire of @socalitybarbie is so brilliant. You know why the satire is so brilliant. And, as you may have guessed, a few other people had things to say on this subject. I’m here to talk about the language. The language! The loss of meaning! The ruining of sacred words!

The awful thing (well, one of the awful things) about all of these identical lifestyle-envy #PNW Instagram accounts is that they take moments that were so clearly staged and apply words to them that suggest something deep and true.

Authenticity. Being wrapped in a Pendleton blanket sipping coffee you made in a metal French press on top of a mountain overlooking the view is not an authentic moment. When you packed that blanket and that French press, you had that photo in mind. Authenticity is not a #picsoritdidnthappen mentality. Authenticity suggests something shining from inside of you, something imperfect and serendipitous and unique. Everyone has these qualities. Quirky individual style. A signature word that you use even when it kinda doesn’t make sense in context. A crooked smile that you flash 24/7.

Community. Oh, community. Community isn’t your friend who is as into having photos taken of herself as you are (so you can take photos of each other looking away from the camera in front of a white wall and pretend you had no idea someone was taking a photo and filter it and post it etc etc). It’s a church pulling together in grief and love after the sudden death of a pastor. It’s you and one of your best friends laying together in bed staring at the ceiling after eating too much Thai food and having some really real conversations about love and life and telling each other stuff you’ve never told anybody before. Community is raw, it’s vulnerable. It’s unfiltered. It’s the people you don’t have to filter yourself around.

Connecting. It’s not a follow. It’s not a wifi signal. It’s eye contact and listening to someone who is telling you their story without interrupting to tell them yours. It’s holding hands. Connection is selfless, it’s about giving. It’s a “You too? I thought I was the only one.” about something that was making you feel alone before and now you feel not alone. I guess if you were feeling alone in the woods teasing your hair so it looked windswept and leaning your phone against a tree branch and putting the camera on self timer, now you know you are really not alone.

Adventure. Adventure is what happens when your trip/day/life starts not going the way you intended and you decide not to get angry about it but to decide you’re up for anything. Adventure is inherently unphotogenic. Adventure is you and your boyfriend and his friend going on a 10 mile bike ride for tacos only to arrive 6 minutes after the kitchen closed and the friend decides to get drunk and hit on one of the townies and you’re a little hangry and then the 10 mile ride back in the pitch dark fantasizing about pizza and tots with him while she sings to her headphones and then on the exhausted drive home you get a call that her tire is flat so you go rescue her at a grocery store and might as well buy some puppy chow because hangry and you give her a lift and then on the exhausted drive home from that you get pulled over and ticketed because your tags are expired and finally you arrive home and heat up some leftover pizza and nothing has ever tasted better. Nothing about that (…obviously hypothetical…) situation is pretty. But it’s the unpretty stuff that makes a freaking good story.

So what are we to do? Those are powerful words with real depth. And now we can’t say them anymore without sounding like assholes. My suggestion, and my goal: instead of talking about community, go cultivate a community. Connect with someone during the time you’d spend telling us about how connected you feel. Have a real adventure: get caught in the rain on your hike, just watch the sunset instead of watching your phone watch your friend watching the sunset. Do something that is authentic to you, like, actually.

And this is also my thought: your life can still be beautiful. Your Instagram can still be beautiful. Trust me, I’m guilty as charged on so many counts of annoying photo styling. (I’ve tried to cut that out recently.) You might do something that @socalitybarbie satirizes and be thinking, but that IS authentic to me!!! For example. I own a red Vespa scooter. It’s gorgeous and just as photogenic as you would think. But when I bought it, it wasn’t because of the photographic possibility that Italian design holds. And when I ride it, I don’t ride it because it would enhance my Instagram. I ride it because it gives me joy.

So let’s seek joy. Whatever it is, if it gives you true joy, you won’t feel the need to make others feel like they’re missing out. You’ll want to include them. That’s connection, community. Authenticity. And it’s sure as hell bound to be an adventure.

Questions? Comments? Want to publish my article in a widely-circulated publication? Good, we have the same goals. Email wildernessandgold [at] gmail [dot] com.




Oh, Hello Stranger

railroad bridge

It’s a rainy Thursday, my day off from work, and I’m back from a six month blogging hiatus. Where did I go? Well, I changed jobs and fell out of the routine of posting, aaaaaand then I never came back. Until now! With far less pressure on myself to post every day and silly things like that. But I’ve missed this space! I’ve made so many great connections with you guys through this blog, plus I read so much juicy stuff throughout the week and I just wanna share it all with you. And have juicy conversations about it. Yeah?

It’s been six months of rapid growth for me. Professional discoveries, new friends, heartbreak, travel, and lots and lots of live music. Lots of miles run. Lots of dollars spent at Whole Foods, welp. Still living alone. Pushing myself to be intentional about my time, present in the company of others, vocal and generous with my appreciation of the humans in my life. Disciplining myself to learn new skills, brush up on lapsed ones, make the bed, do the dishes right away, spend some time every day just daydreaming, and so forth.

So now we come to a lot of decisions about the future of W&G. I’d like to dedicate more page space to digging into the important questions in life: vocation, family, relationships, selfhood and self-actualization, home. What we are put on this earth to do. Of course there will still be doses of design, fashion, art, the pretty-to-look-at and aspirational stuff. Because I love designing a beautiful life.

I’d also love to hear what you’d like to see more of from W&G. Less of? Is there something I touched on that you’d like me to expand? Something you’re curious about? Tell me in the comments, or email wildernessandgold [at] gmail [dot] com.

Love to all, so happy to be back!


photo via

Balance / 03

af5cc9c234cb1e16401efd8a2f598720This post is part of a series on balance. Read the rest here.

I had a very hectic past week. My calendar was covered in pen and I found myself anxious about getting places on time, and therefore didn’t stay very present. Not very yogic of me, eh? I have a few tricks to staying balanced in my back pocket, and since I was constantly reminding myself of them this week, I thought I’d share with you.

  1. Write it all down. This part I have mastered. In yoga, you can’t stay in a balancing pose when your mind is hopping all over. You’ll fall. When you write down your meetings, deadlines, and other stressors, you don’t have to keep them bouncing around in your mind and constantly worry about forgetting something. Write the workouts and the social outings down too, so they don’t get overlooked.
  2. Prioritize. I am a crazy person, so I sometimes put two yoga classes and a long run in my calendar on the same day I am working, volunteering, dog-sitting, and seeing a concert. Yeah, I know, it’s not all gonna happen. But maybe one yoga class or the run will. Ask yourself what you need to do, and then what you really want to do. Then toss out everything else.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up. I have the long distance runner’s mindset that if the workout wasn’t an hour long, it didn’t count. This is simply not true. One of my favorite ways to fit a workout into a short span of time is to set my phone timer for 10 minutes, and start running at a comfortably hard pace. No warmup, just into it. When the timer goes off, I turn around and run home, following the same route. Boom. 20 minutes, and I guarantee you will be sweaty and out of breath.
  4. Keep perspective. Nothing is the end of the world. If I need to skip a workout and clean my apartment because that will maintain my sanity, then I do it. I volunteer twice a week to unwrap myself a bit from my own life.
  5. Nourish yourself. My three must-dos to make it through responsibility-packed weeks are long walks while talking on the phone with a beloved friend, eating really, really healthfully, and doing grounding yoga poses like headstand or child’s pose. And breathing through it all, of course.
  6. Practice active gratitude. Active gratitude is my made-up term for when you notice and name specific things you’re grateful for throughout the day. Not just like “I’m thankful for everything I have,” but “I’m thankful for the gift of discovery on my walk today,” or “I’m thankful for the few minutes I had to sip my coffee and write this post.” Perhaps even more importantly, practice active gratitude about the things disguised as difficulties or inconveniences. “I’m grateful for the awesome free bangs trim I got today; it made driving all the way out west worth it.” You’ll end up loving every minute of your life, even the hectic, unbalanced-seeming ones.

How are you staying balanced these days?


/ image via my Pinterest.


IMG_5792IMG_5786I’m dog-sitting this weekend and I’ve been taking the pup for lovely long walks each day around his neighborhood, one I’m pretty unfamiliar with in Omaha. I’ve been so delighted by what I discovered there, and have ended up walking far and wide in an effort to take it all in.

IMG_5793IMG_5787What I’ve discovered is the most American neighborhood I’ve ever seen. Gorgeous, varied historical homes, big front porches (and a few porch fans!!), brick streets, unlocked bikes on driveways, the smell of a bonfire, folks sitting in the front yard just watching the world pass by. No fewer than seven people waved or called hello to me, many striking up mild conversation about the evening or the fall. I saw one dad with four little boys roughhousing in a front yard. One of the boys asked “Can I sleep over tonight?” and the dad said “Sure!” even though it was a school night.

IMG_5794I felt like an outsider with these beautiful, relaxed family lives going on around me, and I found myself wanting in. I rarely fantasize about home ownership– I love apartment life and the relative lack of responsibility involved– but there was something so perfect about that Thursday evening scene that it made time stand still as the sun slowly set on my walk.

IMG_5790IMG_5788I don’t know what it is that struck such a chord. Probably that it wasn’t the neighborhood I grew up in, which reminds me of my childhood, but another homey, eclectic neighborhood that makes me dream of what’s to come in my future. I got the same feeling in college while house sitting for a professor who lived in the cutest neighborhood full of the same kid and bike and grilling activity. Just for a few moments, it made living alone feel kind of… lonely.

IMG_5789IMG_5785I’m by no means itching to give up my free-as-a-bird solo life in my pretty little apartment right away, but my subconscious is beginning to hint that this isn’t what I’ll want forever.


How to Get What You Want


Peggy Olson knew a lot about what it takes to get what you want. Courage. Long-term commitment (aka seeing the forest through the trees). Quitting that habit of starting every sentence with “I’m sorry…?”. Here is what has proven to be a foolproof process to get what you deserve, in work and in life.


  1. Know what you want. Have a goal, an intention, an end game. Write it down. This is half the battle.
  2. Act like it. Work harder. Take on more responsibility. Dress for it, if it’s that kind of thing. Find out what you need to do, and do that, and then some. Basically, earn it.
  3. Ask for it. No one is going to give you something just because you’re there and you’re doing a good job. They’re too focused on their own efforts at getting ahead. Ask for what you want. It’s not an imposition; it’s not impolite. (I remember when it occurred to me that it was not impolite to ask for what I wanted and had earned…. because that epiphany was within the last year. Yep, work in progress over here.) Then recognize how empowering it feels to ask for what you want, whether the answer is in the affirmative or negative. Both responses will motivate you. Important distinction: We millenials get a bad rep for entitlement. Deserving something because you’re entitled and deserving something because you’ve earned it are wildly different phenomena. Know the difference. And then… err on the side of (working harder and) asking earlier, and oftener, and for more, because that’s how you’ll make strides. Again, even when you get denied. Because, Peggy Olson.
  4. Locate those voices telling you you’ll never get it or you should want something different, and silence them. Peggy was up against her entire society telling her that her priorities were misplaced. While everyone was moving out to the suburbs, she was moving into the city, her own office, going completely against the grain. Notice if the negative voice in your life is your own internal dialogue. Get out of your own way.

What do you guys have to add? What have you learned along the way?

Happy Friday!


What are your weekend plans, friends? I’ve been a bit of a hermit lately: working on some home projects, taking long runs, hiding out at my home-away-from-home, Archetype Coffee. Omaha has thrown us unexpectedly into full-force fall, which is okay with me I guess (queen of sweaters, scarves, and boots over here) but it is kind of a shock to suddenly be so cold. I could see my breath on my morning walk today, and I slept under four (four!) blankets last night. What the what?! So I pretty much plan to keep plugging along until my dining room comes together, wear a lot of wool socks, and read a lot.

Next week I’ll post updates on some of the (very basic) DIY-ing I’ve been up to lately, and maybe a little apartment tour.

Sooo I’ve read a lot of good stuff in the past couple weeks and it’s long overdue to share with you! So curl up with a wool blanket and dig in!

This article gave me goosebumps. Choose a positive thought, choose connection, choose to spread joy.

The very real importance of daydreaming and naps.

Basically my dream home.

Been thinking about trying out a more unisex fragrance, and heard good things about this one.

Guilty as charged!

What happens when you like everything on Facebook, and when you like nothing on Facebook. Eye-opening!

Would love to have one of these darling backyard cottages to rent to Airbnb-ers. Well… first I would love to have a backyard.

Have a great weekend, y’all! xx Jane

Experiences, not Things


I recently read an article on the psychology of anticipation, how spending money on experiences makes us happier than spending money on things. I just booked a trip to North Carolina (as promised) for the first week of October, and I can already tell you, anticipating that trip– barely being able to sit still with excitement at the prospect of seeing my friends, planning out my wardrobe, deciding where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do– is bringing a lot of excitement into the three weeks leading up to it.

Here are just a short few things I’m looking forward to in the old NC:

  • Seeing my wonderful friends, particularly Hannah Marie and Paul.
  • Hugs. Hugs for days.
  • Getting to see Hannah Marie’s new home in Winston Salem and visiting all her hangs.
  • Stringing up the hammocks somewhere and chilling and talking for hours.
  • Dropping in to Davidson to say hi to my old stomping grounds.
  • Coffee at Summit.
  • Breakfast at Toast.
  • Hiking in the mountains in the FALL!
  • Similarly, driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the FALL!
  • Wandering through bookstores and coffee shops in Asheville, maybe taking a yoga class or two.
  • Having a beer at my favorite Belgian/craft beer bar in NC, The Thirsty Monk.
  • The best conversations with the best people.

You guys, I’m even looking forward to landing in the Charlotte airport. I can’t believe I miss an airport. But I’ve left a lot of my heart in the state of North Carolina and I would really like to move there someday, maybe in the not-so-distant future. *hopeful*


/ Photo of my last trip down south, last October. Oh, Exit 30.


This week commences my favorite sixty days of the year: September and October. The changing light of summer’s end brings that back-to-school energy that’s so programmed into all of us and motivates me to lift out of summer laziness and start making things happen.

I’ve set some specific goals with the long game in mind, thanks to my work’s amazing leadership development component, and I’m choosing to be single again as this month begins. My new balance between work, yoga teacher training, running, volunteering, and personal time is settling into place, and I’m feeling the shift move back toward solitude from social life.

Back to basics.

Reading, spinning records (currently Cowboy Junkies), writing, giving, being outdoors, cleaning, being off the phone. Wearing jeans and ponytails. Going to bed earlier, getting up earlier. Remembering who and what I care about deeply, and focusing my attentions there.

I’ve learned a lot about love in the past year.

The biggest lesson being that the talk-and-laugh-easily-all-night, butterflies-even-after-knowing-each-other-forever, forgive-and-understand-each-other’s-flaws, willingness-to-compromise-to-be-together, can-have-fun-doing-even-the-most-unfun-things, leave-you-breathless kind of love is rare. More experienced humans than I will say, well obviously. But I used to approach dating with the same attitude I felt during the month before I started college: but everyone is going to be so fantastic and amazing, how will I ever pick who to be friends with?

Yeah. Turns out that’s not really how it works. And I’ve been thinking a whole lot about that, and how I’m extremely lucky that I’ve felt the above kind of love at all.

Here’s a little bit of what the month of August has brought into my life.


Celebrated my beautiful Mama’s birthday with a party at my apartment with good friends, good food and drinks, and fresh flowers everywhere.


While there were still flowers everywhere, hosted a brunch for my girlfriends, including the world’s prettiest mimosas, cat coasters, and amazing conversation.


Tried fried Oreos, befriended so many sheep, cows, pigs, and horses, and encountered a real life frozen banana stand at the Iowa State Fair.


Got coffee and had incredible talks with new and old friends at Archetype. Nothing will ever replace Summit Coffee in my heart, but I’m beginning to make some amazing memories at Archetype. Now if there were only cinnamon raisin bagels…


Deep cleaned my apartment and made my kitchen shelves oh-so-pretty.


Unexpectedly spent time with my brother Dan on his quick trip home, which also resulted in consuming several top-notch cocktails while he was around. I’m spoiled.


Started doing more downtown runs. I used to always run in Midtown / the parks so I’ve been loving the new views and city energy.


Took an unexpected mini road trip over Labor Day weekend with a travel partner who’s always up for adventure.


Went upside down for a change in perspective and just to celebrate life.

^^^ The fact that these last three photos are all open road says a lot about my frame of mind right now. I’ve got the travel bug once again (every couple of months, I’m itching to go see the wider world!) so we’ll have to see where my next trip takes me. I’m willing to bet it’ll be back to North Carolina. I’ve been getting major pangs of homesickness for the southeast. And on a more metaphorical level, I’ve got an incredible sense of possibility right now. Things that seemed impossible just a few months ago now seem almost laughably easy to achieve, and I could not be more pleased about that.

I’ll be back to regular programming now, I feel like my blogging hiatus this month was long enough. I miss writing in this space! Here’s to the best two months of the year!

xx Jane

Winds of Change


It’s been total silence over here for more than a week! But it was quite a week of huge transitions.

I left a job for the first time last Friday. It was scary. What am I saying: it still is scary. And I started a new job on Monday morning.

An offer appeared for something totally different and after a whirlwind of consideration early last month, I accepted. And now I’m in it, learning so much so quickly.

I am really feeling this shift. I knew I would, but now it is real. I’m tired all the time, but I’m also extremely inspired and feel a lot clearer. Clearer how? It’s kind of hard to explain, but I feel like my blood is flowing better. I feel more motivated, more driven. Bolder.

My last job was great and I already miss the amazing people I worked with. It was a crazy, wild ride of learning curve, surprises, flexibility, learning, more responsibility than I ever thought I could handle, being trusted as an adult, learning… and I will take all of that with me on this new adventure. And it is time to take what I’ve learned, and begin the process of recovering from the old, adjusting to the new, and letting it all soak in.

I’ll be spending some time with my journal for sure, and taking long walks and runs (half-marathon season of course is also beginning) and meditating, so as things pop up, I’ll share bits and pieces of them here with you. Lots of digging deep. Never complacent, never comfortable, never a dull moment.


/ image source.

Spaces / 04

Today I want to share a tour of just one space—a 500ish-square-foot house in Portland designed by Jessica Helgerson and occupied by she and her family. That’s much smaller than the apartment I live in, and a family of four lives here. I think this house is pretty much perfect, complete with the garden that helps sustain the family, aka my life dream. The other day I watched Tiny, the documentary about building small and living small, and since then I’ve been obsessed with looking at these miniscule homes, some under 100 square feet!

These homes require some serious innovation in architecture and space-saving design, and they’re an inspiration to pare down and live simply, no matter the size of your space.

Would you live in a tiny house? I love my spacious flat and I certainly could thrive in something half the size. But 100 square feet? It would be a challenge for sure.


All images via this feature in Martha Stewart Living.