April 29, 2014

Mindfulness

Far too often, we find ourselves drifting away from the conversation, retreating to the anxieties that compile our lives, our future, our mind.  We get too caught up in planning our futures, our days; and we forget to stop and actively listen to what is going on around us.  When was the last time you went on a walk and silently listened to all the sounds that create the noise that is our lives; seeing the sights that paint the pictures of our memories?
 Mindfulness has been a historical concept carried through the hands of time and through studies is accredited for its benefits. Actively participating in every encounter you are given will allow you to gain an appreciation for life and its experiences which will result in physical and spiritual alterations to perspective and priorities.  So next time you take a walk, enjoy the silence. Soak everything in

And check out this awesome infographic that explains more about living in the moment and the benefits of mindfulness! 


Source: unknown

"Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life." -Buddha 

If you are interested in acquiring more knowledge on mindfulness, we recommend these books:
The Art of Zen by Morihei Ueshiba
Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss 

April 27, 2014

Shakedown


Well, we had our 1st personal shakedown before our thru hike today. I highly recommend conducting a shakedown before you plan any long distance hike. It’s a great opportunity to inspect all of your gear to see what needs to be replaced and what isn’t necessary. Also, a good time to see if you are missing any important items. I’ve heard of some outfitters offering shakedowns for free. Luckily, I’m from a family of experienced hikers and gearheads so we are all pretty up-to-date on the latest and greatest. 




We all grabbed a tarp and started laying out our gear by compartments. Somehow mine and Stacey’s spilled over to a table and bench. Tuck and Dad had everything organized in a matter of minutes— such backpacking pros!




And well, Luke . . . he took all of 2 seconds to lay out his stuff. Granted he still has some things to purchase. It’s a good thing Trail Days is in a couple weeks!





After everything was out, we took turns sifting through each others things and made some, ahem, recommendations. Such as “Amber, you better get some rain pants and bug spray.” According to Mom AKA Trail Boss, “Maine sounds horrible . . . you cross rivers chest deep and bugs eat you alive.” Sounds like an adventure to me!




After gear inspection we packed up and hit the scale. I’m a bit obsessive about ultralight weight gear. I know some hikers who get annoyed by others obsessing over ounces, buttttt it all adds up!




So here are how the packs weigh in without food and water:
Rick - 22.8 | Amber - 28 | Tucker - 33 | Stacey- 35 | Luke - TBD

We all have a goal to keep our pack around 30 lbs. Stacey and Tuck are making some adjustments to get theirs lighter.





And here they are fully packed minus food! Showing off our love for Osprey! We plan on doing one more shakedown with food in a couple weeks. I’ll post detailed lists of what’s in our packs then!

April 23, 2014

Artist Spotlight: Jerry Habraken

We live in a time where everyone wants to be a photographer, myself included. Photographers are like the new rockstars in our digital, visual culture. Well, today we want to introduce you to a real photographer rockstar. Meet, Jerry Habraken.


When we decided to do an artist spotlight for the blog, Jerry was one of the first people who came to mind. I have always been in awe of his photos and how they evoke all sorts of raw emotions. You’ll feel struggle, hope, beauty and everything in between. He is a true artist capturing glimpses of history. The way he tells stories from behind the lens continues to stir my soul. I’m so happy he agreed to answer some questions about his work and personal life!

Opal+Wonder: Give us the backstory- how did you discover your calling as a photojournalist? There are so many avenues you can take with photography.
Jerry Habraken: My father is a photojournalist so I started shooting when I was fairly young. I stopped shooting entirely in high school and my first few years of college while I studied music production. After I didn’t feel that was the right path for me I still wanted to do something creative so I gravitated back towards photography.

OW: Do you feel like you have found your photographic niche?
JH: I fell in love with the ability to go places I shouldn’t naturally be in photojournalism gave me. The ability to people watch for a living isn’t a bad gig. Currently as a staff photojournalist at a newspaper I’m not sure if I’ve found my niche. I don’t exactly know where I should be.


Fire, 2014

O+W: How would you describe your photography style?
JH: I don’t have a style. I wish I did, but I’m not at that point yet. I’m trying to work towards that, but I’m sorta just floating at the moment. I generally feel like I’m far from it.

O+W: The creative world can be hard to break into. Do you believe in fallback plans? Did you ever have a plan B? 
JH: I never really had a plan B. I’ll just figure out how to keep making photography work for me.


wood/woods


O+W: As a creative, you are constantly thinking outside the box and trying new ideas. Do you ever hit a wall?What happens when you are in a creative drought?How do you keep yourself inspired?
JH: I’m constantly hitting walls. When I’m in a drought I tend to stop trying so hard. I try to disappear for a while and just live my life. When I’m running around with a camera telling myself to do something weird and unique, it never works. If I stop thinking about it so much and just let it come organically I tend to feel I’m more successful.

O+W: I know you like to spend time with people and swap stories before you photograph them. Any good behind-the-scenes stories you can share with us?
JH: I was driving around town recently and I saw a woman in colorful clothing working outside her house so I pulled my jeep up in front of her house and got out to visit with her. She ended up being super sweet and she talked my ear off. I found out she doesn’t have a phone, doesn’t get the newspaper, no TV, really no outside entertainment other than this giant copy of The Bible in her living room which she reads everyday. She had been widowed for a few years now and she said that since her husband had passed away that the only thing she wanted to do is stay close to the Lord until she can be with him again. She also told me about the time Jesus took her by the hand and gave her a tour of hell. That was a pretty cool story. There’s more on her on my instagram. ​​​

O+W: I can see the wheels turning in your head when I watch you work. What goes through your mind when you're with someone and photographing them?
JH: My main goal is took make people around me feel relaxed and comfortable. I just tend to observe their body language and mannerisms to get a feel of how naturally they are acting around me from the start. From there I like to get them involved in the creative process instead of treating them solely like my subject. I’m usually in a space shooting that their more familiar with than I am so they usually have some interesting insight.

 
Ace, 2013


O+W: Do you take your camera everywhere you go?
JH: No. I guess I have my phone with me if I want to make photos.

O+W: You take hundreds of photos with your iPhone. What are some of your favorite photography apps?
JH: As far as taking photos I just use the camera app that comes with the phone. If I need to tone anything I use an app called snapseed, and when playing around with double exposures, which I’ve done a lot lately I use an app called Blender. That’s really it.

O+W: What’s your best advice for young artists trying to make it in the creative world?
JH: Don’t try to love something you don’t naturally gravitate to. Figure out what really gets you thinking and enjoying work. Practice that craft, style, or method until you feel confident in it. Do what you have to do to pay the bills, but when you’re practicing on your own time have fun.


Hard to Find

OW: Let’s have some fun. Your going on an adventure for several days, what’s in your pack?
JH: Ummmmm, All the boy scout essentials because its been engrained in my mind since I was little. My hammock, a little journal so I can write, my phone for the camera, and almonds.

O+W: I’ve been on several of your micro adventures and had a blast! I’d love to hear about your latest one. Where did you go and what made you want to take one?
JH: I had driven around 2 hours to shoot soccer playoffs for the newspaper only for it to be canceled by a thunderstorm that rolled into town. I was driving back and tired from wasting my time driving when I saw a little farm road off the two-lane highway I was on.The sun was setting on it and all the reflections and colors from the storm were pretty so I decided to drive on it for a while. I saw some colorful landscape and crazy lighting in the distance and it made the trip worth it in the end.

O+W: You have the opportunity to photograph 2 subjects. Who or what would they be?
JH: One, this guy named ‘Red’ I met like a month ago. I shot one of his grandkids for the newspaper randomly a while ago, but every other week or so I stop by at his house to talk to him and try to convince him to let me photograph him. He has a really great face and I’m pretty determined for him to warm up to me enough to shoot him. Every time he says, “Next time you come by I’ll let you take my picture.” Two: It would be pretty cool to have a few minutes with Bruce Springsteen.

O+W: You have a no-obligation day. Walk us through what you would do?
JH: I would catch a soccer game, preferably Liverpool. Go to my favorite place in the entire world, the zoo. Find a forest to explore with my dog. End the day cooking dinner with a beautiful woman, that sounds pretty legit.

O+W: Who is your favorite person?
JH: My Father

O+W: Create us a mini playlist of what you are listening to now.
JH: 
1. Hot Dreams by Timber Timbre
2. Love Letters by Metronomy
3. Salad Days by Mac Demarco
4. Coffee by Sylvan Esso
5. A mix of Bruce Springsteen


O+W: I love your creative heart and blessed to call you my friend. Thank you for taking time to share bits of your life. Any other random things you want to add?
JH: I don’t believe so. Thanks for the opportunity you can keep up with me on my instagram @jerryhabraken to see some projects and stories like the one below at www.jerryhabraken.com.



"I thought I would never smile again," said Rhonda Dolberry. A survivor of breast cancer for 6 years, Dolberry cherishes the subtle things in life now. "I get to pick up my grandchildren later today and that's maybe something I wouldn't have the opportunity to do," said Dolberry.









*All of the photos in this post are taken by Jerry.

April 20, 2014

Easter with some Thru Hikers

Today has left my heart so happy. Stacey and I got the opportunity to give some stinky thru-hikers a lift today. We love to swap stories with hikers any time we get a chance. We met Craig while shopping at the NOC and picked up Free Man shortly after pulling out of the parking lot. Craig is a 24 year old hipster from San Diego, CA. He told us all about his outer body experiences while meditating in sensory deprivation tanks and how coconut oil is a part of his daily diet. He also told us that his trail name is pending at the moment. "Free Man" is from Maine. He’s 56 and has been living off the grid since 2003. He said that he took to the woods for spiritual reasons. Plus, he didn’t agree with the war in Iraq. He was quiet but his energy and spirit filled our car with positive vibes. We started talking about society and all the hate in the world. He spoke up and said that he thought the world was coming together for the greater good. He said, "I think we are finally getting it." Then Craig chimed in and said “yeah, I think everyone’s awareness of love is heightened.” (how hipster like) It resonated with me to hear someone have faith in humanity. It was interesting to hear the East Coast and West Coast opinions of things.


Free Man & Craig 

Once we got to the top of Newfound Gap we met “Oregon”, “Little Bit” and “Draggin”. Oregon and Little bit were from Portland, OR. They said they were never big hikers before the trail, but Little Bit had been wanting to hike the AT for a while. Oregon was just “tagging along” so he said. They were a cool couple just hiking their own hike and looking forward to taking a zero day in Hot Springs.


Oregon and Little Bit

“Draggin” is from Massachusetts. This is his second time thru hiking. He said his job was coming to an end and he decided to make a positive thing out of a negative thing. He got his trail name from always dragging his butt. Haha. 


Draggin

Can’t wait for our paths to cross on the trail! Hope to see all of you special souls again soon!! 

April 19, 2014

Free Spirit: Lillie Somerfield


Today’s spotlight is on my best friend and favorite free spirit, Lillie Kate Somerfield. She’s a native of East Tennessee currently enjoying city life in Brooklyn, New York working as a graphic designer at Fresh. I met Lillie when I was 5 years old and we instantly became inseperable. I can remember being drawn to her fearless outlook on life. I called her my “brave” friend for as long as I can remember. It didn’t surprise me a bit when she packed up her life and followed her heart all the way to New York. Growing up with her helped shaped me to be the care-free, creative I am today. She taught me courage by always doing her own thing regardless of what others thought. Not only was she the person who I confided in, went on double dates with, and everything else a best friend is, but she was also my role model. Still is, actually. And I’m so proud and honored to feature her today! So grab an old fashioned or an iced coffee with milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon (2 of her favs) and get comfy. Then read on to learn more about this inspiring free spirit as she talks about her travels, what’s in her fridge and her opinion about today’s youth.

Opal + Wonder: What does a free spirit mean to you? 
Lillie Somerfield: Being uninhibited by what’s expected of you

O+W: What really matters to you?
LS: I think personal and creative fulfillment are very important. But I'm not sure if they are possible... I think the drive to be better can be healthy but I've been thinking lately that the only happiness is what you have right now, because that's all that is real. So being happy and positive in the now is very important to me, something I try to do everyday. I also think that honest love is the most important, always.



O+W: You have a traveling heart. Where all have you been to? Any good stories to share? What did you learn about yourself while trevling?
LS: Ohh I've got the travel bug so hard right now... I've been lucky in my travels thus far. I lived in Paris for a month, I traveled around Greece for a few weeks on a school trip, I've visited California and done a good deal of exploring in the south and east United States. Good stories... well I did have a love affair with a photographer in paris, that was pretty young and fun and stuff, I felt very alive there. I had a lot of spiritual experiences in Greece, the countryside is so pure and lush and old, the whole energy of the country was slow and sweet, everything smelled like orange blossoms. My travels have taught me that I really can do anything I want, and that it's often best to just go with the flow.


Lillie rocking the 70’s in Middle School
O+W: Your style has always been unique ever since middle school. Where does your style inspiration come from? 
LS: My inspiration usually comes from the 60's and 70's. I've been buying a lot of dresses lately and thinking about dying my hair grey for the summer. I mostly shop at vintage stores as cliche as that sounds. I happen to live by a ton of affordable ones and many saturday mornings are filled with digging for treasure. Other than that, I mostly stick to the sale racks at Gap, and asos.com.

O+W: As a creative person, how do you keep your mind stimulated? You seem to keep your creative fire going.

LS: Yes! I've always enjoyed that part of myself. Adventuring is a major part of my diet. I get bored easily and love being somewhere for the first time, that is a major reason why I planted myself in New York. I absolutely love the amount of things you can do on any given day (and lunch breaks in Central Park don't hurt either). I feel so very lucky to be a part of this city at this time in my life. 

O+W: So what are you listening to, watching and reading nowadays? 

LS: As far as entertainment goes, lately I've been listening to ASAP Rocky, The Beatles, Mountain Man, and Little Dragon. I really love old movies, some of my favorites are -- A Woman is a Woman, Annie Hall, Funny Face, and An Affair to Remember. Now that I use public transportation I'm loving the free time I have to read, I've most recently finished Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Architecture of Happiness by Alan de Boton, and Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. My favorite magazine is Lula, and my favorite TV show is GIRLS.

Annnnd for fun . . .

O+W: Name 3 things that are always in your fridge.
LS: Butter, kombucha, chocolate in the freezer

O+W: Are you more of a hunter or gatherer?
LS: Hunter all the way
O+W: Describe your ideal of a perfect day.
LS: Brunch, vintage shopping, laying in the park, eating tacos and icecream with my best friends

O+W: You are filling a box with your 5 favorite things. What’s in the box?
LS: My beau Dan, a fresh strawberry pie baked by my mother, my childhood dog missy, home videos, my bed




O+W: Any other random facts you want to share? Such as your brain dominance, last time you did a cartwheel or your opinion about the youth of today.
LS: haha well I think the youth of today is pretty much like the youth of yesterday, everyone grows up and thinks the kids behind them are nuts, but I think it's really just a reflection of our society changing as a whole.. we're all in this together. But it's not bad, there is so much beauty in what we have today... That it's easy to travel, to learn, to explore ourselves and find our niche, to make things with our hands because it feels most fulfilling even though it's not the quickest path to wealth and stability. We have a lot of freedom to find out how to feed our soul, which I believe is the best investment

I hope this interview put a big wide smile on your face like it did for us! You can connect with these loving Pisces on Facebook + Instagram. Also, checkout some of her work at lilliekate.com

April 18, 2014

Opal + Wonder / New Crop Give-Away part 2

The first round of our Give-Away is over.  

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to enter. And huge congrats to our first lucky winner, Carol Myers! We are very excited for you to try some of our new products and experience love from New Crop! 

Now it’s time for round 2! 



This week we will be giving away our new scent, Drum Circle, a mysterious woody wonder aroma. (May just be my new Opal + Wonder favorite) The winner will also receive a hand embroidered clutch from Thailand tied with a colorful hemp bracelet, courtesy of our friends at New Crop! And more items from Opal + Wonder such as our classic reed diffuser, wax melts and Peacemaker incense. 

See below for all the ways you can enter to win. Also, keep up with our Facebook page for even more ways to increase your chances! 
 *You must like Opal + Wonder and New Crop on Facebook to be eligible. 

Happy Good Friday, folks! 







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April 13, 2014

Opal + Wonder // New Crop // Give-away

Let’s get this day started shall we? To celebrate a great first year of business, we are hosting FOUR spectatcular GIVE-AWAYS! The prizes will be a combination of products from Opal + Wonder and New Crop. So exciting! 




We were so happy when New Crop agreed to collaborate with us on these awesome give-aways! Aaron and Charmie of New Crop have been living the dream, traveling the world while gathering all sorts of treasures for their shop. They recently came across some amazing hand embroidered clutches in Thailand that we fell in love with. The detailing is spot on and they even have a colorful hemp bracelet tied to it! 

We paired them with some Opal + Wonder goodness to create bundles of happiness for you! So not only will someone get love from Thailand, but each give-away also includes a candle with one of our new scents: Gypsy Soul or Drum Circle! 

There will be a winner announced each week! Don’t miss out! 


Enter below to win : 
Opal + Wonder candle, reed diffuser, incense and wax melts
New Crop's hand embroidered clutch and bracelet from Thailand

And afterwards, check out more items from New Crop here!



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April 12, 2014

Free Spirit: Brianna Gorsky

Happy Saturday Folks! Amber and I are excited to introduce a wanderlust soul that has walked where many of us have dreamed of walking; has endured circumstances that no one would prefer, and gazed upon some of the most beautiful sights in the world.  Brianna Gorsky is a 24 year old Cancer from Detroit, Michigan, who just recently made it back to the states after spending the last year in Seoul, South Korea.  Brianna has a presence that creates instant comfort upon meeting her.  She has a keen sight of the world and so eloquently tells her stories with conviction and vivid description.  She is a confident dream seeker, who seeks light, truth, and happiness- the ultimate quest for life. 

"You are not an Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder.  It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you." -Vandana Shiva


Opal + Wonder: Tell us how you keep your mind stimulated?  What are some of your favorite books, movies, and/or music?

Brianna Gorsky: Keeping your mind stimulated is one of the most important things you can do for your happiness, and, as we are now discovering, your health.  I've always been a true book worm.  A good book is just as good as a vacation, taking you to faraway places.  I can't tout the brilliance of Gabriel Garcia Marquez enough, and I'm currently having an affair with everything by David Mitchell. Documentaries are a staple of my daily life, to remind myself of how much I don't know, and open my eyes to worlds often unseen. Traveling and interacting with new and unique individuals challenges me the most and helps me to look at the world in new ways. 


O+W: Tell us your passions.  What matters to you?

BG: Defining my passions is much more difficult than I anticipated. Its something we're asked and pressured into defining our entire lives. So many things matter to me its often overwhelming and riddles me with anxiety. Most simply, I suppose, my passion is that everyone has a birth right to happiness and should be given every opportunity and tools that they need to live a life of passion, if you can define such a thing.



O+W: What did you learn about yourself during your experiences abroad?

BG: My experiences abroad, as cliche as it may sound, have taught me a lot about myself. We surround ourselves with people who love us, and who we love back. They are our support system, our motivators, our cheerleaders. During my travels I have gone through periods of "darkness"; no phone calls, internet, etc., not always by choice. This taught me to learn to like myself. It seems such a simple thing.  But, no matter how down we get at home there is someone there for us, to tell us its okay, that we're worth it, that if we keep going everything will be okay. When you're stranded without anyone you know, anyone who speaks your language or understands the world that you come from or that you can blame, you have to reconcile with yourself. You have to learn to like or at least accept the person that you are for all of your faults. You have to be the person that believes in you, you have to be your own support system. This was something that I gained that I had never even given a thought to. I learned to love myself. 



O+W: What were some of your favorite experiences in India and South Korea?

BG: The best experiences I've had are when I stopped planning things and just allowed myself to go adrift. They were the days that I got lost in Seoul and stumbled upon hidden nooks of artists and chocolate shops. They were when I had meals with strangers from the buses in India, or convinced my friends that I knew exactly where the hiking trail opened, which as it turns out, I certainly did not. The most wonderful things that happen when traveling are often simple days where all of your plans go to hell. The best things were rarely the tourist attractions that I insisted on seeing and more about bumping into the real lives, smells, and personalities of a place.


O+W: Tell us about your favorite foods? Or places to eat?


BG: Food defines cultures and regions and connects people. My favorite food depends on where in the world I am and what season it is. I love shared meals with local fare. While in Korea my favorite meals were centered around a single shared grill or pot, allowing people to really connect and converse over their meals. This is something that was almost lost here at home but is resurfacing! Be sure, I'm not saying I don't enjoy a good chili dog or the occasional fast food drive-thrus!




O+W: Any strange "Aha" moments that humbled you?

BG: Traveling humbles you. Removing yourself from your comfort zone and diving deep into something that terrifies and confuses you is humbling in a way that brings a sense of peace. Getting lost and having to rely on nonverbal communication and the kindness of strangers makes everything seem a bit more manageable. 


"Aha" moments happened on a daily basis, as simply as when I was properly taught how to eat curry with my hands. Which, before hand, was a very messy situation that elicited laughter, at my expense, all around me. The childlike "aha's" never ceased. No matter how much research I do before I go to a new place it seems like all of the little things are left out, like why are there so many buttons on that toilet or what am I supposed to do with these tongs? The list is never ending but fills me with a childlike naivete and curiosity that is the best feeling in the world.  


O+W: How did you cope with being uncomfortable and alone? 

BG: Traveling is not always a fairy tale adventure, as I always imagined it to be, or  the party that it is often portrayed to be. My second stay in India was the first time I decided to travel solo. I had been to India with a study abroad, so I was excited and believed that I was prepared. What I did not realize in my first trip was that we had been very sheltered. I arrived and immediately got a tuktuk to my hostel. It was dark, I was tired. In the morning I went out to purchase a train ticket and explore and, I was in shock. The poverty was overwhelming, the male attention was infuriating. I locked myself in my room and cried for days. Maybe other people have harder nerves, but I do not. Considering the bubble that most of us grow up in, I don't think that my experience was particularly unique, but none the less eye opening. It wasn't a special inner strength or optimism that got me through it. It was the realization that for me this was essentially a vacation and yet for millions of people this is the reality of day to day life. I became acutely aware of the privileged of being a westerner and felt guilty for it. This is not to say that the people I met were not happy people, though.


O+W: Along with your growth, how did your experience change your perspective on priorities?

BG: I've grown an immense amount over the years. Its hard to tell what is just getting older and what is due to traveling. Definitely being away gave me a new appreciation for my friends and family. Its not easy to admit but I think that I have prioritized my desire to travel above my relationships which is neither right nor necessary. My time away has made me realize that community and relationships are where true happiness is found. I will forever have a kinder lust that is insatiable but my priorities have shifted toward the people around me. Also, my perspective on travel has shifted. I believe more in backpacking with a purpose but also am more aware of what little I may have to offer in many situations. 


O+W: What would your message to the world be?

BG:  One, be aware of how truly lucky we are and how many opportunities are available to us. But, also, how skewed, as westerners, our idea of happiness is. Happiness is simple and is the same for all of us the world over. It’s family and friends, a good laugh,  a connection with nature, a beautiful sunrise, food, its not nearly as complicated or as unattainable as much of the world would have us believe.

To be considered a free spirit both humbles and elates me. Its a mindset and a lifestyle that says that happiness and simplicity is what life is really about. Its about being true to yourself and allowing yourself the freedom to enjoy anything and everything. I'm a true appreciator of art, I have neither the talent or the patience to create, so my love for art is immense. I love to travel, which I think came from my love of books. My favorite nights are dinner and board games with friends, I could play settlers everyday! I try not to have a favorite anything because I don't want to limit myself. Don't be afraid of your anxiety but treat at as a tool to lead you to new experiences. Don't forget that we're all connected on our journey through this life and never feel alone. Get your hands dirty, that's what life is about.
                                                         

Connect with Brianna

                         Facebook: Brianna Gorsky
                         Instagram @briecheezy7


April 7, 2014

Positive Thoughts Equal Positive Results

Seeing the light in particular situations can be hard; however, it is imperative to our mind, body, and soul to do so in all situations. Think about a time that something really great happened.  Now that you have your moment, take a second to reflect on your emotional state for the rest of the day.  Did anything go wrong during those moments of euphoria?  If so, did it change your mood for the day? Or did you allow it to roll off your back and keep smiling?

From time to time, we notice that certain things can alter our entire outlook for the entire day- colleagues being in bad moods, hateful customers, forgetting a meeting, or forgetting something important.  All of these things can influence your whole day...if you let it.  The importance of positive thinking is for you to take time to realize that shit does happen.  It does all day, everyday.  But you are in control of your emotional and spiritual state.  When the shit does hit the fan, step away, breathe, and tell yourself, "I dictate how complicated my life is." Be positive, and the situation will be handled flawlessly with ease.  And it will.

We are loving this positive thinking info-graphic. Be sure to try the meditation exercise at the bottom. Our affirmation was “Everything will come at the right time and place in this life."




April 6, 2014

Opal + Wonder is Taking a Break to Explore



Greetings wild ones!

Stacey and I (Amber) are thrilled to tell you that we are thru hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer! We will be traveling all 2,181 miles southbound - starting in Maine and ending in Georgia. And we can’t wait!

We have so many people ask us: Why? Why leave the comforts of your bed and other luxuries of the modern world behind? Why walk in the woods for 6 months? I have a love/hate feeling towards this question.  There are so many good reasons; but I want to have the perfect answer - An answer that is dwindled down to one raw, real reason. So when someone asks me “why are you hiking the AT?” My reply will inspire them to do something or feel something . . . Strange, I know, but I like to be prepared for those hidden opportunities to change someone’s life. It’s the same scenario as “why are you a vegetarian” or “why do you believe in God”- PRIME OPPORTUNITIES to share what you believe in and to inspire others! That’s what life is about anyway, right? Making connections, building relationships and helping others.
I realize I will always be shaping my “perfect” answer. So for now I’ll make a faithful bullet list of all the many reasons I desire to thru-hike the AT:
  • To feel what’s like to live- Today life is so busy, loud and complicated. People have forgotten what it is like a to live a simple life. I’m absolutely guilty of taking the modern lifestyle to the extreme. And although I’ll miss my daily Starbucks, TV shows and unhealthy social media addiction, I think it’s safe to say I am most excited about breaking free from all of it! Limited comfort and technology- just nature, good company and conversations with God!
  • To experience self reliance at it’s finest. I am NOT excited about the rain, mosquitoes, hunger pains, blisters, hot days and cold nights. However, I am SUPER excited about overcoming those personal minor triumphs. (fingers crossed) I strive to be a strong individual- physically, spiritually and mentally. I believe that thru hiking will push me to grow and become even stronger.
  • To travel on foot! – I mean how cool is that? Walking from Maine to Georgia – not many people can say they have done that. And I have the Wanderlust Disease. I can’t wait for what my own eyes will see!
  • To spend 5 solid months with my favorite men – husband, dad, brother and cousin. Oh the stories we will have to tell . . . doing our favorite thing together.
  • Because I have to. For me, thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is a calling. I have a strong sense of "I have to do this or else". Once a desire sets up home in my heart, it stays until I turn my dreams into plans. I strongly believe in chasing dreams. Anything is possible if you want something really really bad!
So that’s the long end of why I am thru-hiking the AT. I’ll keep working on the “in a nut shell” version, but knowing myself I’m sure I will just make it longer. :-/


So what does this mean for you?


Well, the shop will be closed for several months, so you better hurry and stock up on O+W goodness! Everything in the shop will be on sale until we run out of inventory. 

As for the blog, we will continue to update it from the trail with the help of our co-author, Jodi, and some special guest writers. We also have some exciting things in the works such as special give-aways and a complete rebrand! So be sure to subscribe to our blog so you never miss a post! 



Looking forward to sharing our adventure with you!

Happy Trails – Amber

April 5, 2014

Free Spirit: Amanda Tate


Hello wild humans! Today we want to introduce you to a free spirit who spends her days loving adults with Autism. Since April is Autism Awareness month we thought it would be fitting for you to meet Amanda Tate, a creative Libra from Nashville. Shes an open-minded, genuine individual who realizes life gets messy sometimes and she is ok with it. Amanda lives her life without constraint. She is never too concerned with whats popular or cool. Too many people are trying to be anything but themselves these days- not Amanda. She is original and in love with her life. And we are grateful to call her a friend. 

 Read on to learn more about her passion for learning and her desire to experience all of what life throws at her. Click here to listen to Amanda talk about her stories as a Job Coach for adults with Autism.



Opal + Wonder: We love how you live your life in such a carefree way. What inspires you to live so freely? 


Amanda Tate: I absolutely hate being boxed in. Society communicates to us from an early age that there is a narrow, straight path for us all. But that's a lie. Life is messy and confusing and heart-breaking, especially for us underdogs. But it's beautiful. And honestly, it's a little chaotic. But that's where the lessons are. To learn, as I love to do...you have to experience. I am a kinesthetic learner. I believe that to understand your world or your environment, you HAVE to experience it. Live it. Maybe for an hour. Maybe for 10 years. Whatever. I believe I could be classified (not that I see myself that way) as a "free spirit" because knowledge has no limit, and the opportunity for experiences is vast. You can't possibly know everything. And THAT is the most exciting fact to me. That means there is freedom in learning. It never runs out. I can always be listening to someone's life story, or I could be watching a documentary on how chairs are made...doesn't matter. It's something you didn't know one minute ago. I don't dig know-it-alls for that exact reason. You're lying to yourself if you think you know everything.

OW: Hearing you say that life lessons are found in chaos is refreshing. It’s a great reminder to create goods things from bad situations. Ok, so you love learning through experiences. What are some other ways you exercise your mind? 

AT: I am a learner, through and through. I acquired a degree to be a teacher, but not because I think I know everything, but because I love any environment where learning is happening. I mainly keep my mind stimulated by other people. Their opinions, their art, their written words, so on and so forth. There is so much to learn about from others. In the past year, I've been addicted to TEDTalks. I feel so incredibly inspired by other's discoveries with science, social theories, life stories...I've probably watched over 200 speeches through TEDTalks about the most random, beautiful, mysterious subjects. I can't seem to get enough.

OW: We agree with you. There is so much to learn from others and TEDTalks are great! So glad you mentioned those. After those 200 TEDTalks, you must feel more educated. So what really matters to you? What are you most passionate about? 

AT: I have a lot of passions, which means probably my main passion would be that I love being inspired. That feeling inside you that feels as though an invisible match has been struck in your heart? Have you ever experienced that? I'm an addict for that feeling.

OW: Yeah! We live for that feeling! Sometimes it can be hard to keep the fire going. How do you stay inspired? 

AT: I’m lucky that my job and career field does that almost daily for me. I work with Supported Employment for adults with Autism. I basically develop job opportunities in the community, find gainful employment that is a safe environment for my guys, then I will go to work with them to "coach" them through situations that may not come very easily to them as it does you or I. We have to go through a "discovery process" with our clients to even get to the point where we can find a field for them to explore. The more we discover about this person, the more they discover about themselves and what is a passion for their lives. It's beautiful.There is simply not enough time (or page space) to tell all my stories I hold dear about how kooky, intelligent, hysterical, and absolutely wild the clients I work with are. Their raw thoughts and emotions challenge me to be the most honest, genuine person I can possibly be. My guys inspire me EVERY DAY to learn, to search, to reflect, to help, to love, to grow. By the way, I say "guys" since for every female with Autism, there are 8 males...and our company's clients reflect that statistic. I love my job so much. I am truly blessed.

OW: Goosebumps! That is so cool. And we totally look up to you. Thank you for having the patience and the compassion to build relationships. So many people today are just “too busy” for that. 

Just for Fun 

OW: Do you have any favorite foods? 

AT: I don't discriminate when it comes to food. I love healthy and unhealthy foods alike. I can have a homemade tofu sandwich with kale chips for lunch and rack up 17 bucks eeeeasily at Taco Bell for dinner. I really just love food. Except olives. I adore cooking, especially baking. My second career choice would actually be to be a pastry chef. Mainly because decadent sweets are the shit.

OW: Haha, that’s awesome. There are bound to be many people who can relate to that answer. So what’s up with your style these days? 

AT: I don't shop. My mom still buys clothes from me. That is absolutely not cool to say, but I do not care about clothes. I have certain pairs of underwear that I have had since 6th grade. My style would have to be loosely described as "convenient and comfortable". Again, I realize that's boring, but I'm bad at lying.

OW: We love your honesty! And hey, convenient and comfortable is the new black. Or is that just us being mid 20’s and not caring? Anyway, this has been fun. Anything else you want to share?

AT: I am addicted to quotes. Say something interesting, and it's probably documented somewhere on my phone or a piece of paper.



About Amanda Tate
Age: 25 and a half
Astrological Sign: Libra
Born: heart of surburban Nashville
Current dwelling: quaint rental home in historic North Knoxville
Life Motto: never take advice from someone you wouldn't trade places with


Connect with Amanda : Facebook | Instagram