life

Going Solo by Shana Berenzweig

A few weeks ago I finally did something I've been wanting to do for several years. 

There will be some who think I'm stupid for doing it.  And some who will wonder what the big deal is and why it took me so long.

I went camping alone.

Well, of course Frankie was with me, but that doesn't really count.

 The luxuries of car camping. An airbed. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

The luxuries of car camping. An airbed. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

 My little campsite. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

My little campsite. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

For those who fall into the first category and think I'm stupid and want to know why in this crazy world I'd even think about camping alone, it's simple.

Bad shit can happen to you at home, crossing the street, at work.  Anywhere.  You prepare as best you can and then go about living your life.  I don't want this sort of fear to stop me from exploring the great outdoors or traveling in general.

 The sunrise had the sky shifting in a kaleidoscope of constantly changing colors. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

The sunrise had the sky shifting in a kaleidoscope of constantly changing colors. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Because so what if you don't have someone to explore with all the time?  Or don't want to wait for when it's a good time for someone else to go?  Or aren't in a relationship at the moment?  Or what if you have people to go with but just want to get away for some alone time?  Are you just supposed to sit at home?

For me, the answer is a big, fat hell no. 

I'm not gonna sit around and daydream of going places once I have someone to go with.  Or settle for staying in hotel rooms instead of under a blanket of stars.  I'm just gonna go if I wanna.  It's a place I've found myself in before and already have written about once before.

 Thankful for this friend. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Thankful for this friend. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

At this point in my life, I'm comfortable doing all sorts of stuff just me, myself, and I, and sometimes Frankie.  I hardly even think twice about most of it.  I know pretty well what my limits are and how far I can push myself.

Hiking and roadtrips with the doggo?  A movie matinee?  Eating out?  Sure, why not?

Longer trips without said doggo?  Parties and networking?  Camping?  Eh, not so much.

What keeps me from doing certain things by myself naturally depends on the activity.  When it comes to camping specifically, my active imagination plays a huge role in keeping me home or in a hotel/motel.  Thinking about sinister people, hungry wild animals, breaking my arm, or whatever fantastical scenario that flashes through my head freaks me out safely tucked in bed, so how was I ever going to do it for real out there?

I read some articles specifically by women about women camping alone to try to ease my mind and find some pearls of wisdom.  I tried to think about things rationally.  I'm doing all sorts of other stuff alone.  Why should camping be any different?

I think a big part of it starts in our culture.  Being alone is something to be avoided.  Something to be ashamed of.  Humans are social animals after all and are better off with other people, right? 

American society tells us there's something wrong with us when we are alone.  Just think of all the stereotypes and tv/movie scenes about the sad-sack eating out by themselves or the crazy old man who lives by himself.  Do I even need to mention spinsters and cat ladies? 

 Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

I find all of this to be especially true for women who travel or go off to explore the great outdoors alone. 

The general consensus is that it's not safe to go by yourself.  It's risky and stupid.  You could fall and break your leg or get your arm pinned under a boulder and have to saw it off with your pocketknife.  Not to mention all the sexual predators out there just waiting to pounce on a single lady.  All sorts of terrible, horrible things could happen and there would be no one to help.

Or at least that is what society tells us.

But I'm trying hard not to buy into that assumption anymore.  And so a few weeks ago, I finally went on a 24-hour solo camping adventure. 

And y'all know what?  It wasn't scary.  Like, at all.  No terrible, horrible things happened.  

 My campsite off in the distance.  Thanks to the  1959 Open Beaches Act , on many Texas beaches you can drive.  I've got mixed feelings about this, but for this camping trip it was great. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

My campsite off in the distance.  Thanks to the 1959 Open Beaches Act, on many Texas beaches you can drive.  I've got mixed feelings about this, but for this camping trip it was great. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Instead I felt a tremendous sense of pride and confidence in myself.  That warm, fuzzy, I-can-do-that feeling when you face new challenges and conquer fears, and learn you are stronger than you thought.  It was an excellent exercise in independence and self-discovery.

And I can't wait to go again sometime.  Especially back to the beach.  I'm sure there will be moments of fear and they all won't be as easy as this one, but just taking that first step was huge for me and what I'm capable of accomplishing.

 My shadow and me. And a very rare selfie the morning after. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

My shadow and me. And a very rare selfie the morning after. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

I thought I'd shoot more while I was there, but I found myself content just sitting in the moment.  Listening to the crash of the waves.  Watching the birds.  Taking deep breaths of humid, salty air.

And no camera between me and any of it. 

 First light. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

First light. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

This is just a little peek at my adventure.  I'm also working on putting together a post with some solo camping tips and gear just in case I've inspired one of y'all to camp solo sometime.  But seeing how I'm still not very good at this whole blogging thing, I can't make any promises. 

XO

 Brown pelicans get in formation. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Brown pelicans get in formation. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

 The beach was covered with these teeny tiny shells. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

The beach was covered with these teeny tiny shells. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

 Beach color palette. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Beach color palette. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

 We heart the National Park Service and wish more of the big official parks were doggo-friendly (although we get, begrudgingly, why they aren't).  Thankfully many of the national monuments and 'lesser' parks in the NPS are welcoming to pups. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

We heart the National Park Service and wish more of the big official parks were doggo-friendly (although we get, begrudgingly, why they aren't).  Thankfully many of the national monuments and 'lesser' parks in the NPS are welcoming to pups. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

 We had the beach to ourselves. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

We had the beach to ourselves. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

 On the way to Padre, I drove thru Rockport, one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Harvey almost a year ago. While they have come so far, there was sadly still a lot of rebuilding to do. | Rockport Texas | June 2018

On the way to Padre, I drove thru Rockport, one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Harvey almost a year ago. While they have come so far, there was sadly still a lot of rebuilding to do. | Rockport Texas | June 2018

Hiding out by Shana Berenzweig

"Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen."

Brene Brown

 Self-portrait with my girl | Austin, TX | Jan 2018

Self-portrait with my girl | Austin, TX | Jan 2018

Last April, I wrote about how I was gonna show up and be seen.

Inspired by the quote above, I promised myself I'd do better by setting some intentions for 2017. 

More blogging. 

More self-portraits. 

More vulnerability.

I thought about writing more blog posts and taking more self-portraits. 

I thought about showing up and being seen.

But instead.

I hid out.

 Self-portrait in my new home | Austin, TX | Oct 2017

Self-portrait in my new home | Austin, TX | Oct 2017

Well, here we are.  Another new year.

Another attempt at intentions.

At doing better.

And more blogging and self-portraits and showing up and being seen.

So, here I am.  Again.

I can only go up from here.

Right?

 

XO

 

P.S. At the time, I hated it, but this self-portrait has really grown on me.  I almost love it now.  Maybe in a year, I'll feel the same way about the one here.

P.P.S. Dear sweet and loyal clients.  I really am planning and hoping to find time to do more client blog posts.  Y'all are all so lovely and deserve a moment to shine.

Texas Stong by Shana Berenzweig

 
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Y'all, my heart breaks for all of my fellow Texans who are suffering from Hurricane Harvey. If like me, y'all have been feeling helpless, check out some of the many ways we can get involved from afar.  While Houston has received much of the attention, there are other small towns along the coast, like Rockport and Port Aransas, that took a direct hit and are almost completely destroyed. So many Texans will need help in the months to come, please don't forgot about them after the media leaves.  If you can, please consider donating to one (or more!) of the many charities below doing good work.  Know of a worthy charity?  Please leave a link in the comments.


Greater Houston Community Foundation

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is asking those hoping to help Houston to give to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

Pets

Austin Pets Alive is helping evacuate and house animals. They're looking for donations and foster volunteers, as are the SPCA of TexasHouston Humane Society, and the Animal Defense League of Texas.

Texas Diaper Bank

People in crisis are often in dire need of supplies for their kids. The Texas Diaper Bank provides diapers provides items to meet the basic needs of children and the elderly. Donate here.

Food Bank Donations

Specific Aid for Communities of Color in Houston

Colorlines has a wonderful list of Texas-based charities and organizations working to keep immigrant, Black, Latinx, and other populations safe after Hurricane Harvey. 

Austin Disaster Relief Network

The Austin Disaster Relief Network is collecting items for survivors at the Hope Family Thrift Store at 1122 E 51st St. The group is requesting the following items:

  • New undergarments (all sizes, children and adult)
  • New socks (all sizes, children and adult)
  • Toiletries (i.e.: shampoo, face wash, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.)
  • New bed pillows
  • New blankets
  • Cleanup supplies
  • Black trash bags
  • Mops and buckets
  • Utility knives
  • Leather work gloves
  • Inflatable mattresses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Box fans
  • Clothing is not needed; ADRN will distribute the abundance of previously donated clothing to survivors.

Families who need support from ADRN should call 512-806-0800. For info on donations or volunteering for ADRN, go here.

Monetary Donations

Several local and national organizations are collecting donations for general disaster relief efforts, including the United Way, Americares, Save the Children, Global Giving, Direct Relief, and Heart to Heart.

The Texas Tribune has a great list of resources for those in need and ways to help and give here

Here in Texas, and I imagine in city and states across the country, there are many local businesses are holding benefits and donation drives.  Too many to list here, but I linked to some aggregate city lists below, and social media and a little googling should lead you to many others.  Please feel free to list any benefits in the comments.

Austin

DFW area

San Antonio

 

 

A Texan measures distance in hours, not miles. by Shana Berenzweig

In late June, Frankie and I packed up the car and headed west on our third annual roadtrip to LA to visit family and friends.  Each time, I've made the 2-day trek solo, which seems to confuse some people.  Despite what they think, there are lots of great reasons to travel/roadtrip solo.  And as a single lady, sometimes you can't wait around for the right time and travel-partner-in-crime. 

The road calls and you must answer. 

 West Texas | July 2017

West Texas | July 2017

Growing up in Texas, the youngest in a veteran roadtripping family, I have a fondness for the bittersweet nature of the long drive.  It takes Texans a while to get anywhere around the state, which is why we tend to measure distance by hours, not miles.  Many curse the trek across the miles and miles of Texas roads.

But I love the drive.

The solitude.

 White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

The stillness of dawn.

The way the land slowly flattens out from the hill country outside Austin to the wide open spaces of west Texas.

The picnics at rest stops.

The little roadside attractions.

 White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

The way Frankie curls up next to me.

The lull and sway of the road.

The genius, beauty, and simplicity of cruise control.

The knowing glances and synchronized back-stretching from other road-weary travelers at rest stops.

The mundane stretches of nothingness.

 West Texas | July 2017

West Texas | July 2017

The freedom to stop whenever and wherever I want and as many times as my heart (or bladder) desires.

The simple, yet healing powers of having the windows down and the music up.

The giddiness when you cross another state line.

The relief when you get to your destination.

 Las Cruces, NM | June 2017

Las Cruces, NM | June 2017

The good fortune of making it without getting a ticket.

The gratitude of my privilege to travel and explore.

The inevitable daydreaming of living on the road.

The comfort of returning home.

The sense of accomplishment in doing it all by myself.

The highs and the lows. 

I love it all.

These are just a few of my faves from the journey to LA and camping in the Sierras.  Hope to have more images posted soon. (But let's be real, it'll probably be a while.)

XO

 
 First Lake, John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2016

First Lake, John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2016

 White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

 Leo Carrillo State Park, Malibu, CA | June 2017

Leo Carrillo State Park, Malibu, CA | June 2017

 Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

 Tonto National Forest, AZ | July 2017

Tonto National Forest, AZ | July 2017

 Inyo National Forest, CA | July 2017

Inyo National Forest, CA | July 2017

 White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

 Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

 Big Pine, CA | July 2017

Big Pine, CA | July 2017

 Big Pine, CA | July 2017

Big Pine, CA | July 2017

 John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2017

John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2017

 Sequoia National Forest, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Forest, CA | July 2017

 Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

 John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2017

John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2017

 White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

 

Showing up by Shana Berenzweig

 

 

 

"Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen."

Brene Brown

 Self-portrait with my squad | Austin, TX | April 2017

Self-portrait with my squad | Austin, TX | April 2017

I wrote about this on Instagram yesterday, but since I'm trying this whole blogging thing now, figured I should share here, too.  Right?

So, I'm not really big on resolutions, but at the start of the year, I was inspired by the quote above to set some intentions for 2017.  Not really big on self-portraits either, but since growing as a photographer was also on the intentions wish list, here I am, showing up and letting myself be seen.

Confessions: I only took this photo because of a workshop I've been taking and should be posting it simply because I like it, not because of the teacher's positive feedback (and confidence it gave me). I also took an embarrassing amount of shots to get this halfway decent one that I only kinda sorta like. That nice gallery wall is the only wall decorated in that room.

While only a baby step, gonna keep trying this whole showing up and letting myself be seen in all its good, bad, and ugliness. 👊🏻

XO

 

Promises I don't intend to keep by Shana Berenzweig

Blogging.  A journal.  Whatever y'all want to call it, I'm givin' it a-go. 

Again.

I tried once upon a time, but it quickly fizzled out. 

And that may happen again.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This time around, though, I'm only giving myself one rule.

And that'll be that there will be no rules. 

Daily or weekly posts?

No, thanks.

Gonna post when I feel like it.  No more, no less.

I might write some words along with posting pictures. 

Or I might not.

I'll definitely be sharing more of my client work.

And I'll definitely be sharing other things, too. 

But that's it. That's all I really know for sure.

'Cause simply said, not gonna make any promises that I don't intend to keep.

Other than being myself.

Oh, and sharing more photos of my dog than y'all probably care to see.

Sweet Frankie | Big Sur, CA | July 2016

If y'all are new to me and my work, learn a little more about me here.

I don't expect there to be lots of readers.  But to those who do follow along, thanks, I'm very grateful for y'alls support. 

Now go have a happy weekend, friends!  See y'all when I see y'all.

XO