The

milkglass project

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This page of the site just might be our favorite. Outside the work we do for our clients,
our minds maintain a busy pace. The result? Calloused fingertips, pretty type, and a few smart
words from people we look up to. We share it all here. Let’s just call it “the rest of the story.”

June

24

2016

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

Chris Stapleton

CStapleton_portfolio

If you haven’t heard Chris Stapleton’s music by now, we think you are missing out on some great songs.  He has sold 1.3 Million copies of his album Traveller. We were honored to design and art direct his project. Check out his songs here and grab a vinyl.

December

14

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | DECEMBER

DEC_BLOG

Well, folks. We’ve nearly made it to the end of this project we’ve been calling A Year of Simple. As with so many things, it’s been the perseverance of process that has most significantly marked the year long experiment. We wondered what it would look like to have a monthly goal of creating non-client work. This meant making margin for the important task of creating and taking time to reflect. Making it a public project for our friends and clients is what made it stick. Thanks for the accountability, guys =).

So here we are well into the thick of Christmas celebrations and holiday fanfare, and we’re grateful for the gift of new perspective that we’ve gained from this choice to make art and make time. The energy and thought it takes to birth something meaningful every four weeks has (in even the smallest of ways) forced us to live intentionally and check in our goals with each passing month. With the advent season now upon us, we’re bookending the experience with thoughtful considerations for the busiest time of our calendar year.

Your holiday may not look like what you thought or hoped it would. Family may include your spouse and kids or it may look like a table full of friends who star in your life at the moment. Collect and borrow from their traditions and create new ones all your own. Take time to take it all in. Allow things to change and take on new shapes but most importantly, enjoy the rich process of expectation — the best part of the season. Carry it with you like a tree on the roof of your car. Place it in the center of your house and cover it with lights so you can’t possibly forget that this season comes with a Savior.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale

Download your free desktop background here: http://bit.ly/TREEWAGON

Stream our Milkglass Christmas Playlist: http://bit.ly/CHRISTMASMUSICPLEASE

 

 

December

12

2015

Categories:

Blog Post

Grinch No More

Amy’s take on Christmas tradition:

I can remember the moment the whole Christmas tree thing changed for me. I use to have nothing to do with it. Frankly, I  hated the mess and I thought the tacky decorating took too much time and effort. Then one Thanksgiving a couple years back, a group of friends came and picked me up from the airport from a long week of vacation with my family.
Waiting on the curb at BNA, I looked up to see a silver station wagon with frantic arms waving out the windows. Christmas tunes blaring, I could see three santa hat heads bouncing around inside. I will never forget the feeling of joy and surprise I felt as my friends jumped out of the car (screaming) and scooped me up for a jolly group hug. Little did I know that was just the beginning of it.
My dark and empty house had been transformed. I turned on the lights to see the happiest Christmas tree decorated and glowing in my living room. Cookies were ready to be baked in the fridge. It was Christmas on Red Bull at my house. This night was one of my favorite moments with this crew of good friends and I have been sure to get a tree every year since. These days I pump up the Christmas tunes on vinyl and am quick to embrace the pine needle-y mess.

Also, I / we love Christmas cards. Please send them to PO BOX 158058 Nashville, TN 37215.

November

14

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | NOVEMBER

NOV_BLOG

A TRADITION THAT NEVER GETS OLD

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”
- GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1789

It’s doubtful that a single one of us missed experiencing at least one Thanksgiving celebration in class somewhere between kindergarten and the fifth grade. Whether you dressed up as a pilgrim or donned a handmade headdress, you and your classmates were all dressed up for a reason. You may not have fully understood it at age 6, but Thanksgiving originally began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest (sometimes I get it confused with International Day and swedish meatballs but that’s another story). They were giving thanks that they had harvested enough food for the next year. That was a big deal and there was nothing trite about it.

I love the Thanksgivings of my own past. Tables full of of food and the faces of relatives, football, turkey trots followed by turkey naps, and just when we thought it was all over, turkey sandwiches. I also love this new-ish tradition of Friendsgiving. Why? Maybe because it suggests that we’ve got more to celebrate. One celebration approached with grateful hearts just isn’t enough. As a company we’re celebrating a harvest of more work (more great work) than we know what to do with and we’re thinking back on all the steps that brought us here. Like so many other things in life, we’re looking back with gratitude for how it’s all panned out. Thank God.

Thank God, I got the job. Thank God, I didn’t miss my flight. Thank God, my friend is cancer free. For every Thank God something happened there’s most likely an equal thank God it didn’t. Thank God, I  didn’t marry that person, or get into the university of my first choice. Thank God I lost my record deal…Sometimes this brand of thank-you-for-what-didn’t-happen is felt even deeper than its counterpart. The things that didn’t happen often give us just as much reason to be thankful as those that did. If you find yourself at a loss for gratitude this year, try thinking of the ways you’ve been spared heartache or ponder the remarkable things you hope are yet to come.

This month’s desktop calendar may be the simplest yet but it’s probably also the most purposeful and for that we add an exclamation point. By all means, thank God!  Hoping you feel most lucky and loved as we enter this beautiful holiday seeped in gratitude.

Download our free desktop background here: http://bit.ly/NOVMILKGLASS

Download & join our ‘Milkglass Plays’ Spotify Playlist: http://bit.ly/MILKGLASSPLAYS

Every time we are in an Uber with our friend Ruthie the first question she asks the driver is for the auxiliary cord. This month’s list selection has been influenced by recent rides through Brooklyn with her. She introduced us to Christine and the Queen we’ve been playing her music and dancing ever sense. Subscribe to ‘Milkglass Plays,’ and enjoy the tunes folks!  Click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October

5

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | OCTOBER

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All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.” – Norman Maclean

No, we’re not talking about ghosts…or maybe we are? This month we’re tackling some logistical challenges at Milkglass and we find ourselves considering creative solutions for a number of changes that need to take place. Truth be told it’s left us scratching our heads a bit while the answer takes its time showing up.

We’ve long held the policy that a “band-aid” solution is really no solution at all. Peel away that temporary quick fix and restore the core foundation or the unresolved problem inevitably returns. We’ve repeated this mantra countless times with our branding clients and now we face it for ourselves, that temptation to do what’s easier, cheaper and faster but ultimately not best. Together as a company we’ve learned that taking the patience to stop and look both ways before proceeding is a practice that can lead to great things. Call it faith or just plain “thinking,” we’re pressing in to the solutions we have yet to dream up and waiting for inspiration to rise to the surface….taking the time to do it right.

Ps. Does anyone else feel like these calendars make the year go by faster??  <  insert bewildered face >

Download our free October Desktop background here.

Download & join our ‘Milkglass Plays’ Spotify Playlist: http://bit.ly/MILKGLASSPLAYS

As you know we pair our free desktop download with a monthly spotify playlist. We have decided to merge the greatness into one playlist. Now when you subscribe to ‘Milkglass Plays,’ you just do it once and each month songs will be added to the top of the list. Some much easier for everyone, right?!  Also, if you have a song you’d like to submit to us to consider to add go ahead and contact us via twitter, email, or another method you prefer. Subscribe to our playlist here.

 

 

 

 

 

September

10

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | SEPTEMBER

SEPT_BLOG

It’s easy to forget the earth is split right down the middle almost perfectly into two different regions – two halves of the same planet experiencing opposite weather patterns simultaneously. While here in the Northern Hemisphere we’re de-pilling our sweaters and looking forward to less yard work and more football, our friends in the Southern half of the globe are stocking up on popsicles and filling up their pools. And year after year, like clockwork, our earth spins in this very same rhythm.

I don’t know about you, but there’s always something a little “angst-y” about this time of year. Temperatures haven’t had time to drop but it’s September and we’re back to our routines. We’re officially entering the fall season and though it happens like this every single year, I always feel a little caught off guard. Just when I was starting to feel acclimated, outdoor festivals move indoors, summer camp ends and it’s back-to-school and work. One way we’re combatting that “Surprise-It’s-Fall!” panic is by turning apprehension into purposeful anticipation. What do I want my rhythm to be this season? How can I bring the spontaneity of summer into my fall routine? What do I want to accomplish before 2016?

Much like the two hemispheres, two people can look at the same picture and see different shapes. They can watch a movie – one loves it while the other hates it. We approach life in general like this too. Some see endings as beginnings and problems as opportunities. Given the choice, we’d rather be the beginnings and opportunities kind of people. We want our company to follow that pattern too. So…we’ll ask you what we’re asking ourselves, “What does it look like to fall ahead this year?

Get your free desktop download in two options this month. You pick: Neutral or Mustard & Red.

Download & join our ‘Milkglass Plays’ Spotify Playlist: http://bit.ly/MILKGLASSPLAYS

As you know we pair our free desktop download with a monthly spotify playlist. We have decided to merge the greatness into one playlist. Now when you subscribe to ‘Milkglass Plays,’ you just do it once and each month songs will be added to the top of the list. Some much easier for everyone, right?!  Also, if you have a song you’d like to submit to us to consider to add go ahead and contact us via twitter, email, or another method you prefer. Subscribe to our playlist here.

 

 

 

 

 

August

10

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | Aaww, gust. Time for a remix.

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It’s true. August arrived FAST. Unlike so many years before, however, we can honestly say that this year we have been “sufficiently summered” and are filling refreshed, alive, and fully opened up as a result. Mission accomplished.

So much inspiration is found in new scenery and nothing compares to feeling fully alive to explore a new day.  Perhaps Richard Rohr puts it best in his book, Falling Upward:

“Their world is opened up, the screen
becomes much larger, and they do too.”
- Richard Rohr

We live in a great big world… perhaps leaving home only helps us see it. Iceland A few observations made on the road to and from home:

  • Texas, you are hot as sriracha.
  • LA, your weather is perfect and makes up for any insults hurled against you in your more traffick-y moments.
  • Nothing blows a girl’s cover as an outsider like Siri’s “ARRIVED” declaration from your purse.
  • Summer evenings spent with the glow of a late night read are preferred in all ways to the call of Netflix.
  • Sometimes the best conversations occur with strangers when we decide we’re not in a hurry. Often these strangers become friends.
  • It’s healthy to feel small in a big city from time to time. …we find we’re more likely to try (or get tricked into) new things when everything is new and falls into the category of “adventure.”
  • Though counterintuitive, physical distance really can confirm our closeness of connection to people in our lives
  • And lastly, when the bowl you’re throwing decides to collapse on the wheel, there’s still hope for making a really great plate.

Pssst. Summer’s not over just yet! If you haven’t already, there’s still time to mix things up.

Aww, Gust – Peridot Playlist by Milkglass Creative: http://bit.ly/AwwgustPlaylist

Get your free desktop download here: http://bit.ly/AWWGUST

 

 

 

 

 

July

14

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | JULY

JUly_BLOG1Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool. - FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR

Summertime makes a heart swell with happy in a way no other season can. Perhaps it’s because people are less prone to ask questions when you duck out of work for a few hours (or days) to go play. Let’s face it, the very best summers are often marked by somewhat unbalanced work:play ratios.

And why is it that creative productivity nearly always increases when the engines are turned down and the “doing” gets paused?! We’re taking on this equation first hand this summer. Will let you know the outcome but so far we have five handmade bowls, a few rickety roller coaster rides, one moving van (welcome to Nashville, Jose!), ocean views for days and some priceless new inspiration to show for some intentional resetting.

Not gonna lie, at times it has felt like losing an arm to slow down and recharge. When we’re tempted to go back into our default high gear, we simply return to the wise rap stylings of a 90’s Will Smith. (Still working on our head swivel)

Download the July desktop.

Listen to our 90′s ‘Swivel’ Mix via Spotify.

 

 

 

June

7

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | JUNE

JUNE_BLOG

Every summer has a story.
- UNKNOWN

Surely our time is nothing without our memories to mark its passing. There’s a certain brand of memory that comes with summertime, its slowed pace, heated haze and fragrant honeysuckle. The summer of the first West Coast road trip, the summer your sister got married, the summer of the cicadas, and the summer you hoped would never end.  Perhaps you’re designating space this season for curiosity and unexpected adventure in the bright green, cricket laden outdoors or you’re finally tackling that thing you’ve been planning for. Whatever this summer’s story might be for you, remember there are pools to be swum in and picnics to be packed and more daylight hours to be noticed. Perhaps the simplest way to experience summer is to take part in it with loose plans (and subsequently overgrown hedges).

For June 2015, our tale at Milkglass will be one of follow through. For months we’ve been gearing up for the release of a new full length Sugar and the Hi-Lows record and June 23rd is the big day. The band, including our own Amy Stroup, has been hard at work writing new songs and trying them out on tour with Ingrid Michaelson, Kacey Musgraves and now on their own as headliners. In addition, next month’s calendar will be sent from sunny LA as part of our team works from the west coast, making progress on some long term goals.

Need some new summer music?! Always, right?!  Be sure to check out the new album High Roller out June 23rd.  (tip: this month’s Spotify playlist features the title track)

If flowers aren’t your thing, you’re in luck. We’re issuing two wallpaper options this month! Celebrate the new album release with this special edition lyric download and it’s oh-so-true words: “Cuz the bees left the trees doesn’t mean there ain’t honey inside.”

 

Download the June Desktop Wallpaper.

Download the special edition Sugar + The Hi-Lows desktop wallpaper.

Click to listen our Milkglass ‘HoneySuckle’ Spotify Playlist.

 

 

June

6

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | SUGAR + THE HI-LOWS

sugar_BLOG copy

For months we’ve been gearing up for the release of a new full length Sugar and the Hi-Lows record and June 23rd is the big day. The band, including our own Amy Stroup, has been hard at work writing new songs and trying them out on tour with Ingrid Michaelson, Kacey Musgraves and now on their own as headliners. In addition, next month’s calendar will be sent from sunny LA as part of our team works from the west coast, making progress on some long term goals.

If flowers aren’t your thing, you’re in luck (see below). We’re issuing two wallpaper options this month! Celebrate the new album release with this special edition lyric download and it’s oh-so-true words: “Cuz the bees left the trees doesn’t mean there ain’t honey inside.”

Download the special edition Sugar + The Hi-Lows desktop wallpaper.

Click to listen our Milkglass ‘HoneySuckle’ Spotify Playlist.

 

 

May

5

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

Milkglass Fizzy Rita

FIZZZY

Pin-ya-tuh. Sink-o-day-my-yo. To-po-chee-ko. Ta-kee-lah. Hola Mayo! One of our favorite refreshers here at our office is the Mexican-made, super fizzy mineral water – Topo Chico. At our neighborhood taco shop, Baja Burrito, we’ve been known to bypass the burrito completely, eyes on the prize for that cold bottle of bubbles.It’s still the first week of May. We’re keeping the party going and adding Topo Chico to an all-natural margarita recipe in a new formula that’s all our own. See below for our recommendations for this simple drink with a little added “pop.”

Milkglass Fizzy ‘Rita
• 2 oz fresh lime juice (4-6 limes)
• 1 & 1/2 oz quality tequila
• 3/4 oz Cointreau  (Orange liquor)
• 1/4 oz light agave nectar or simple syrup to taste
• 1/4 oz Topo Chico

Combine lime juice, Topo Chico, Cointreau, Tequila and agave syrup (or simple syrup) in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, like you mean it, then pour over ice. If you like salt with your margarita, wet the rim of your glass with lime juice and then coat it by flipping the glass upside down on a plate holding the salt of your choice. Adjust the agave/simple syrup to your taste.

 

 

April

16

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | APRIL

APRILTRY

Yes, this month’s calendar is tardy. We are blaming it on a trophy incident. I do not kid about the strange occurrence of a certain golden eagle trophy falling and causing a concussion to one of our Milkglass designers. Not only did Mary suffer, but I think we have all suffered a little – refreshing our inboxes every day, looking for the much anticipated April email. Thanks so much for your patience.

Try as it may, no miscreant trophy can take away our excitement in shring this month’s creation. Ahh… April, the month that let the light in. After a few weeks of rest,we’re nearly back up and running and so is the sunshine. By all means, go get out in it! I am going to try to pay attention to the spring.

‘I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.’ – ANNE LAMOTT

(Click here to download the April desktop)

(Check out our spring Spotify playlist here | Bring on the Smiling Sun)

March

2

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | MARCH

 

MARCHING ON

 We couldn’t be more excited that it is March because while there may still be ice on the ground for some of us, there is hope in our hearts for longer days and lighter clothing. To be doubly certain we escape the finicky temperament of spring in Tennessee, we’ve decided to hit the left coast for a stint and get a head start on The Great Thaw.

This month’s email we’ve kept to a minimum in exchange for a few extra minutes of packing time and a moment of gratitude to rightly bid a blistery season adieu. Warm soup, we love you (6 out of every 7 days). Phone conversations with friends that live too far away, being on both the giving & receiving end of thank you notes through the holiday season, crowds huddled close for live music, blankets in every room, fire pits & hot tea for days. For these things we are thankful, Mr. Winter. Now quickly onto spring . . .

'It was one of those March Days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.'

- Charles Dickens, Great Expectations 

At my house growing up we had bookshelves.  These shelves weren’t just for decoration. No. They were actually lined with books, and more importantly, served as home to our super heavy, bright and shiny volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. What space was left we utilized for Dad’s multiple box sets of Charles Dickens novels.

So in this not-so-subtle shout out to my dad, we wish you the happiest month of thawing out, with just the perfect amount of cool wind and sunlight, hinting that summer is on its way.

{Download your free March desktop here}

{ Summer in the light, Winter in the shadows | Milkglass Playlist }

February

6

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | FEBRUARY

FEB

It’s still winter. This winter, like all winters before it, has surprised us once more with its short days, clouded skies, and constant shiver effect. There can never be too many hoodies, beanies, socks or blankets. Our constant uniform? Parkas and puffy coats. Our favorite ally? Tea.

We think tea may be one of the most criminally understated delights to a day, too often overshadowed by the fancy hot chocolates and coffees of the world. It’s worth noting that before we were a coffee culture we were all about tea. We even protested over tea. (Boston Tea Party anyone? )

So what is it about this magic brew? It has the ability to calm and to clear the mind and we’re singing its praises. We’re dedicating February to this simple warm pleasure for which people around the world are united in their admiration. Cheers!

The second installment in a year-long calendar project – February, the month of purification. Perhaps you’ll find new ways to move toward renewal and lighten your load. In the meantime, treat ‘yo self to some new desktop wallpaper.

{Click here to download the free desktop wallpaper}

{ A pretty song to pass the time? Click here }

February

5

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

We Know Too Much

Tea_BLOG_web

“Two scientists traveled halfway round the world to ask a Hindu sage what he thought about their theories. When they arrived, he kindly brought them into his garden and poured them tea. Though the two small cups were full, the sage kept pouring. Tea kept overflowing and the scientists politely but awkwardly said, “Your holiness, the cups can hold no more.” The sage stopped pouring and said, “Your minds are like the cups. You know too much. Empty your minds and come back. Then we’ll talk.”

~ Leroy Little Bear

If at times you feel numb or distanced from the essence of what you know, perhaps your mind, like the sage’s teacup, is too full. Perhaps, like a bowl too full of fish, your deepest thoughts have no room to move. Perhaps we all need from time to time to dump out all that doesn’t stick. To let God like a great wind rim our head like an empty bowl.

Information is not wisdom. The mind, while a great and irreplaceable tool, can store instead of feel, can sort instead of understand, can, like a beaver, build a dam of everything precious. If you cannot speak when your mouth is stuffed with unchewed food, how can you think clearly if your mind is stuffed with undigested information?

But how do we empty the mind? By not overthinking. By not storing or sorting. By not replaying fears or dreams or doubts or praise. By choosing the most important thing on our endless list of things to do and doing it fully after tearing up the list.

All the wisdom traditions say to be still – that the stillness will bore holes in our useless knowing. But how do we begin? Every time you find yourself sorting life in your head, stop and notice what the brightest spot of light around you is touching. After a week of this, make a deal with yourself: trade five facts about how to live for one hour of unplanned living. Then have some tea.

- excerpt from Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

January

12

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

DESKTOP WALLPAPER | JANUARY

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Let your heart be bright.

The first installment in a year-long calendar project – January, the month of new beginnings and transitions. We hope this finds you embracing both of these with gusto in whatever way it applies to your current situation.

In Nashville, the days have been a bit gloomy so we were inspired by the call to let your heart be bright as penned in “Dark Runs Out,” a track from Amy’s most recent album, TUNNEL. Whether it’s 75 degrees and sunny or gray and cold to the bone where you are, we hope you’re able to take in the bright spots along the way. Brrrr.

{Click here to download the free desktop wallpaper}

{Click here to listen to ‘Dark Runs Out’ via spotify}

 

 

 

January

8

2015

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

A QUITTER’S GUIDE TO MT. HOPE

Blog_MTN_USE

UBX | Unlikely BUNCH EXPEDITION

a quitter’s guide to mt. hope

Last August, we packed our bags and strapped on our boots and (successfully!) summitted Mt. Hope for our very first edition of UBX Community Climb. Joined by a handful of courageous cohorts we spent the week connecting and rooting each other on, up the 14,ooo ft mountain in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. The trip was by far the most memorable experience of 2014 and began a ripple effect of revision in our goals for the new year. One of our climbing mates, Alice, wrote some beautiful words from her own reflection on the trip (she just so happens to be a writer). Read about her journey from quitter to quitter-no-more at the link below. Alice, you’re our hero.

(oh, and pop over to our vimeo page to check out our short video of the views {click here})

//

On August 3, 2014, I climbed Mt. Hope in Colorado with three friends: Mary, Amy, and Payton. (Click here to see our short film) It was the hardest thing I have ever done. And by far the most rewarding. The first night we climbed maybe 30 minutes to low camp, set up tents, experienced the wonder that is camping food out of a bag, and giggled nervously about bears and having to pee in the bushes. We all had heavy packs on, having brought too much, and my feet already hurt.
The next morning we hiked several hours up to high camp. It felt like 5 hours though it may have been less. However, this is where I started to think, “What the hell have I agreed to do?” In the months leading up to the hike, I’d been playing all kinds of sports like I do, mostly 4-6 times a week. And I’d been hiking with my brother with his 35-pound EMT pack. I hadn’t lost any weight like I’d hoped but still, I was physically prepared for a long hike. I thought.

Nope.

Thankfully we made it and that night we celebrated by sharing whiskey around a campfire, watching shooting stars, and sharing stories about life, love, and everything in between. The third day was solo day at high camp. That meant we got to sleep in, lounge around, and have some time to journal and take pictures. And this is when my meltdown began.
If you’re an introvert like me, somewhere around 11,000 feet on a strange mountain with a group of people you don’t really know all that well, you start to question everything. What am I doing with my life? Why am I here? What did I already miss? How deep am I supposed to dig the hole before I go to the bathroom?

I had chosen a flat rock nestled under some pine trees that overlooked the valley below. I sat and watched the clouds slowly roll by, and I cried for about 20 minutes. In the amazing beauty of nature, all I could think about was the negatives and the unknowns. What I had missed. What I was doing wrong. When I realized how ridiculous that all was, I gave myself a little pep-talk. But I still felt alone, and still burdened.

The next morning, our guide, Payton, woke us up at 5 a.m. while it was still dark to summit the mountain. Within the first 15 minutes of walking across the grassy field and around the lake to the base of the final climb, I said I wanted to quit. I couldn’t go on. I was gently encouraged by my mates. So I tried to concentrate on walking…one foot in front of the other. Just keep moving.
But then I couldn’t catch my breath. I started crying. Every step felt like I was slogging through mud wearing concrete boots. There was no way I could do this! No. Way. And I said so. Repeatedly. By this time, I had dropped to the end of the line. I knew the group had a goal and I thought they’d be able to reach it without me. I didn’t want to hold anyone up. Better if I just walked back down to the tent and stayed by myself all day. Like every other time in recent history when something felt too hard.

When I told Payton I was heading back, he turned around and loudly said, “Nope! We’re doing this together.” I was doomed. And I was having my first full-blown panic attack, complete with hyperventilation and the ugly cry. But they all meant it. Mary and Amy had done these kinds of hikes before. Payton has been a wilderness guide for years. I imagine they’ve seen all types of people on the mountain. I imagine they’re very familiar with quitters like me. So they let me catch my breath. And we walked up that mountain step by step. It was never easy, but it strangely became easier. In fact, when we were only about 50 feet from the summit, Payton had us stop, circle up, and pray together. When he said, “Jesus, thank You for letting us reach the summit,” and we realized we were nearly there, we all sprinted to the top, screaming and jumping like kids at a county fair.

It was beautiful. I had done it! We had done it. Together.

It’s an amazing feeling to accomplish something you’ve set out to do. And even more amazing when you tried to walk away but were encouraged on.
It’s also a refreshing feeling to be able to let go of labels you’ve held on to for years and enjoy a fresh start. Now I can no longer say I’m a quitter. Standing on Mt. Hope, looking out over the clouds, I had to admit to myself that there are very few things in life that I can not accomplish, goals I can’t achieve, or excuses I can allow myself to create.
There will be no soccer match, no volleyball game, no 3 sets of tennis, and no book project that will ever be able to rival the mental and physical battle I had against Mt. Hope.
And I won.

- ALICE SULLIVAN ( writer, editor)

October

1

2014

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

Introducing the Night Light Necklace

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One of the more exciting things we’ve been a part of this fall has been our collaboration with the folks at Red Earth, an ethical jewelry brand that employs artisans abroad. Our debut piece, The Night Light Necklace, is now available online. Check out our interview from their blog below…

From Red Earth Trading Co | Blog

Travis Gravette, Founder and CEO of Red Earth, and Katy McDonald, Creative Director, joined forces with Amy  Stroup & Mary Hooper to create a powerful signature piece inspired by Amy’s musical style. “The hexagon for example reminded Amy of her tambourine. So we created that shape to hold the stone,” Gravette said. “Amy has been a good friend to Red Earth for years, and was eager to work with them on this project.

“I love Red Earth family, their commitment to great design and the values they embody through their production process, so I was very excited to collaborate with them on this awesome project,” Stroup said.

While in Kenya working on the Fall/Winter collection, Travis and Katy connected with Amy & Mary to create The Night Light Necklace. This hand cast, brass necklace is skillfully crafted by artisans from Kenya. Each necklace carries a unique locally sourced hand carved stone creating a distinctive look for each individual. The Night Light Necklace will be featured alongside the Fall/Winter collection, Rare Society, this season. We asked Amy  to tell you a bit about her life on the road as a musician, her creative process, and the inspiration behind the piece.

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SONGWRITING CREATIVE PROCESS
I’ve been writing songs since I was a kid. I use to learn a new chord on guitar and try and make up a song to go along with it. Songs are a mystery to me. Some are what I call gift songs and come really quickly… You sit down and write and they come in an hour or two. It was like that when I solo wrote ‘Hold Onto Hope Love’ in one night. Gift songs come in co-writes too; Trent Dabbs, my Sugar and The Hi Lows bandmate, and I wrote ‘Show and Tell’ and ‘I’ve Got You Covered’ in a matter of hours one day. Other songs take time. You write them, rewrite, and then a couple of months go by and you work on them some more. I try to be intentional and collaborate consistently with my friends; Mary Hooper, Trent Dabbs, and the TOT family, as well as keeping it fresh with new people. I keep a running list of ideas on scraps of paper and in my phone notes and voice memos of random melody rumblings.

LIFE ON THE ROAD
One of my favorite things about the road besides traveling with friends is exploring cities. On the last Ingrid Michaelson& Sugar + The Hi-Lows tour, I went to every modern art museum in whatever city we had a show in. Andy Warhol was popular that year, and I think I saw most of his artwork from Huntsville, AL to London. Andy was everywhere, it became laughable.

On the playing front, performing with Sugar & The Hi-Lows to a sold out Ryman Auditorium was the end of the rainbow for me. Before the show we were all standing backstage – I looked around and saw my friends and family. It was pure, overwhelming joy. Here are some of my favorite times on the road: Pin drop quiet crowd. Crowd singing back lyrics. Crowd clapping during a song. Harmonies. Pre-show speeches to pump us up from Trent. Family in the audience. After show recaps. New cities, new food spots. Pretending to be local. Late night bus hangs. Morning runs in new cities. Hard work.

INSPIRATION
I love Red Earth. I’ve known Travis + Katy for awhile and have followed their good work with the fine folks of Africa. I love that Red Earth facilitates a culture of community collaboration locally and globally. So when they asked if Mary and I would be interested in working together on something, I was stoked! We wanted to create something that would look like the music sounds. Something that would fit the music culture that we try to create all while celebrate Red Earth’s community at the same time. The piece is made with a locally sourced African basic black stone, using the common metal of brass as the chain. The two are used together in an elegant way, much how I approach songwriting. Some of the shapes of the necklace were inspired by the music tools we use every day, mainly the tambourine, glitter, etc. Katy and Travis were incredible and gifted to work with. We communicated on the ground in Africa with local artisans while finalizing the design. It was a very natural process for Mary and I for sure.

 

December

9

2013

Categories:

Blog Post, Case Study

Look Mum, no hands!

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Ahh, London. Cups of tea, BBC films with charming British humor, hotel robes & fluffy slippers, street market flowers and hot chocolate with scones…. It’s our kind of start to winter.

We were lucky to spend a week of our November breaking in our pea coats as ambassadors for the U.S. at the 2013 World Travel Market with team Rhythms of the South. One might describe this conference as an Olympics for international travel — a cousin to Epcot with photo walls and travel booths in lieu of rides. Sugar + the Hi-Lows, alongside a booth full of Jack Daniels, would serve as featured entertainment, all sponsored by a trio of southern hotspots: Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans. Quite an honor AND an education to get a glimpse inside the travel industry across continents.

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Between Sugar + the Hi-Lows shows and meet-ups we were offered bundles of unclaimed hours to explore the city, hunting for local secrets while revisiting some of our favorite spots.  Our first free moment came serendipitously on a Sunday, prime time for perusing the shops and food trucks of East London. We’d discovered this gem on our very last day of a previous trip and were giddy to return. Sunday Up-Market was in full swing with it’s well branded food trucks offering the most robust variety of street food we’ve ever seen (sorry SXSW). Meat pies, plates of curry and Ethiopian fare, and cups of hot wassail were carried by mittened hands all along Brick Lane. More warming than the wassail were the kind conversations with locals out enjoying the evening same as we were.

More of what we found in east London:

a glorious neighborhood bowling alley

pizza place only Marked by a stick

a local place to catch a BBC flick 

a perfume shop with the cutest kid sharing her opinion on the scent of musk & lavender

a warehouse by night, an international street food market by the day

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Of course our trip to London could not be complete without visiting some of the city’s more classic attractions. We had a memorable visit to the National Portrait Gallery where we viewed an exhibition of Bob Dylan’s portrait collection and a life size painting of Princes Di that made us misty-eyed. A few other tips? There’s a great spot for a selfie in front of a life-sized whale at the Museum of Natural History. AND If you’re a foodie like we are, Burger and Lobster may have been our favorite meal of the trip. We think the lobster roll is killer!

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