Video: Elegance and Decadance

I found these treasures on Youtube and thought I’d share.  Part of a series of episodes featuring the history, customs and culture of The Regency Era.

Elegance and Decadence: Portrait of a Prince

Follow the playlist for 2 more episodes after this one. (“Developing a Regency Brand” and “A Divided Decade”)

Celebrating Creativity

“Maybe, at the base of it… what creativity really is [is] just falling in love with the world” –Dewitt Jones

Some useful lessons to be learned about creativity:

  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Learn from them but also turn them to your advantage.

  • There is never just one right answer.  Find the one (or several) that works best for you

  • Break out of your self-imposed ruts and patterns.  Learn how to switch it up by straying from your comfort zone.

  • Take your problems and turn them into opportunities.

  • Find and hone your technique.  “Vision without technique is blind”

  • Care deeply about what you are working on and put everything into it

  • Be willing to look beyond the ordinary and see something special.

A while back, I was in a large group professional development class put on by our school district.  Like most any profession, corporate training (what we teachers call professional development) is a tedious but necessary part of the job.  Teachers are also lifelong learners.

Fortunately, this corporate trainer knew when to pull out the big guns and attract everyone’s attention with a discussion about creativity and looking at problems and situations from a different angle.  The training video he showed us was “Celebrate What’s Right With The World,” featuring National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones.

To say my socks were blown off was an understatement.  In the video, Dewitt talks about focusing on the positive in the world and in every situation, using that positivity to work around obstacles and begin to see them as opportunities.

Dewitt shared his amazing photographs taken during his time with National Geographic and afterwords, relaying the stories behind them and  truisms about how creativity is summoned from within, even when we think that well has run dry.

In “Everyday Creativity,” another one of his training films, he talks about seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.  The bullet list above is from my notes from watching this film.  Key concepts are blow:


View Dewitt Jones and his amazing photographs on Pinterest.

Going to My Happy Place: Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

The first National Park ever established in the United States, Yellowstone actually sits atop the caldera of a “super volcano” that may or may not erupt.  If it ever does, it will take out most of the western states along with it.

It’s an amazing, unique place but I’m just going to write about one small facet of our visit there last summer.  We had the good fortune to stay at the hundred and ten year-old Old Faithful Inn, located just yards away from the iconic geyser that everyone lines up to see when they visit this amazing place.

Our room was about fifty yards away from the geyser and we could hear it erupt regularly throughout the night.  In fact, on our first evening there, Mr. Aubrey and I tucked the kids into bed and wandered out to the bleacher overlooking the best viewpoint for Old Faithful in the wee small hours of the morning.

It was an impulse but it ended up being a truly magical moment shared with my cherished partner in life.  I’ll never forget it.  Above us curved a dome of stars in the blackest field, unencumbered by city lights, traffic and other interference.  We spent muted moments picking out constellations we both know–finding Polaris, the North Star, or gaping at the jaw-dropping streak of white, the Milky Way painted across the midnight sky.

The air was brisk–all the more excuse for us to draw close to each other and share body warmth.  But the magic didn’t end there.  As if sensing our deep admiration and appreciation for the natural world around us, the geyser responded at 1 a.m., giving us alone a show that we will never forget.  It was an experience for all the senses.  I could see the steam rising from the mound in the near distance, I could smell the musty earthiness and feel the damp heat on my skin as the water rose from the bowels of the earth no longer able to contain it.

Nature had decided to pull out all the stops for us that night and give us a moment we’ll always remember.  I still get chills thinking about how I felt, so insignificant and yet so closely tied to the natural world around me.  I felt the connection immediately and it will not soon release me.

I must go back to this place some day.  There was so much to see and so little time to see it.  I am so thankful for our amazing National Parks service that seeks to preserve these special places for us and our descendants.  If you haven’t visited a national park recently, I urge you to get out there and see one, or many.

Since I did not want to use someone else’s photos on my blog without permission, I will link the following image, probably one of the most stunning I found and what comes the closest to what we saw.  Milky Way over Old Faithful

I’ve added some more stunning photos (via repins) on my Happy Places Pinterest Board.  Have a look!

You can see more of my Happy Places posts by clicking on the category link “The World According to Bren.”

2013 Reading List

My Reading List So Far

cry over fictional deaths

In keeping with my 2013 goal to continue reading regularly, I’m keeping a running list of the books I’ve read this year.  I will add to it as the year progresses.  The links will take you to the books on Goodreads.

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

If I Fall by Kate Noble

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

Midnight’s Wild Passion by Anna Campbell

The Pursuit of Pleasure by Elizabeth Essex

Heat of the Storm by Elle Kennedy

Our Tempestuous Day by Carolly Erickson

Follow me on Goodreads  Follow me on Goodreads

Rare Royal Navy Lieutenant’s Uniform circa 1815

This article is about 2 years old but I found it of great interest while trolling the Internet for research today.

A rare Royal Naval uniform worn by a British survivor of the Battle of Trafalgar has been unearthed after spending decades in the attic of one of the sailor’s descendants.

William Hicks became famous for his gripping account of Trafalgar which told how, as a 17-year-old midshipman on HMS Conqueror, he helped British forces crush France and Spain in 1805 to end the threat of an invasion by Napoleon.

Now a uniform worn by Hicks several years later when he reached the rank of lieutenant has been unearthed in a plastic bag in an attic, after being handed down through his family for 200 years.

It went on display today at the National Maritime Museum in London on the anniversary of the battle off the Spanish coast

Read more:


Here’s a picture of the uniform.  Follow the link above for more details of this amazing story!

Lieutenant's Uniform

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