The (Un) Caged Bird

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." – Rumi


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Floating Through the Clouds

Up in the air, I’m not sure where!

I’ve been traveling by plane since I was a week old so the experience has become pretty familiar.  I’d gone from being in awe of it to being annoyed and focusing on only the things I despised (yes, despised).  I had begun to seriously dislike flying because of this lame perspective I’d chosen to adopt. On my last trip to Europe I decided my attitude needed to change.

So, I changed my perspective and made the notes below.

I love clouds.

I love floating through clouds.

I love being surrounded by clouds.

I sat and pondered about the nature of clouds..

What makes them collect, congregate, and gather as they do?  Why do they appear white? Where does the stuff come from they are made from? How is it determined which elevation they’ll hang out on?  HowStuffWorks wrote an excellent article on “How Clouds Work” answering most of these questions. 

One of the Greek isles at sunrise.

I then drew some conclusions on my pondering..

Being able to soar through the clouds is a gift. Can you imagine how many of our ancestors must have longed to do this?  We take for granted what many, many, many generations could only dream of doing.  When you look at things from that perspective being in a plane is kind of like being a part of magic.

If you love clouds too click on some of the great links below.
10 Rare Cloud Formations

Weird, Rare Clouds and How They Form

Make Your Own Cloud in a Bottle

A cloud song! – Clouds Are Cool – by Christopher Strand

Nebula’s Cool Clouds

Over 16,000 Cool Cloud Images in this Flickr Group!

The next time you’re getting ready to fly somewhere try and think of what a privilege it is and of all the cool sights you’ll be able to see from the perspective of being up in air!  It helps to have something to look forward to besides *insert standard complaints about air travel here*.


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TRAVEL DIARY: Amsterdam Street Art

I am fascinated by street art.  Every city I go to I feel moved to record the transitory art that is painted on buildings, bridges, or drawn onto stickers stuck on mailboxes and newspaper dispensers.   I refer to this art as street art versus graffiti because I believe it adds value and beauty to whatever object it appears on.  Graffiti to me is something that is ugly and destructive and I feel it harms its canvas rather than benefiting it. I’m not a fan of people tagging their names and leaving their mark in an ugly un-creative way.  Here in Indianapolis there is one such tagger that does this all over town.  He simply spray paints his tag name in a very boring way which cheapens and destroys anything  he touches.  I won’t mention his name, but if I ever meet him I’m totally giving him a piece of my mind.  I adore murals as well, but those have been approved and commissioned and they don’t have quite the same charm.  However, I did include a lovely one of flowers painted on a house.

I love Amsterdam for many, many reasons.   One in particular is the beautiful art that has been painted onto old buildings and is under most bridges.  I love rounding a corner only to be accosted with a breathtaking image that makes me stop dead in my tracks.  I can stand and look at these images for many minutes.  I always wonder who did them, and when they created it.   There’s such a beautiful co-mingling of old and new in Amsterdam.  The charm of the old canals and cheeky crooked old buildings is only enhanced in my opinion by the counter culture that has made Amsterdam it’s home.  There’s something comforting in knowing that the people are still in charge and make the city their own.

I don’t know who any of the artists are of the paintings below.  A large portion of the photos were taken on Spuistraat.  Others, I couldn’t even tell you the street names of where I took them.  I tend to not pay attention to these things.   Feast your eyes upon these beautiful images and enjoy. I took all of these images when I was in Holland in September.


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TRAVEL DIARY : NYC – BODIES…The Exhibition

Entrance to BODIES…The Exhibition.  Photo by James.Michael.

I have wanted to see BODIES…The Exhibition for ages and was thrilled to see that it was open while I was in New York City.    I had missed seeing BODIES…The Exhibition while it was nearby in the Midwest and had been asking them on Twitter when it would come my way again. I am a certified massage therapist and to be able to see the body in 3D and to see the muscles laid bare was an incredible opportunity.  Studying anatomy and physiology is an introduction to the intricacies of the human body, but to be able to see every piece and part laid exposed takes the education and perception of the body to a different level.  For the sake of transparency I have to tell you I was offered tickets to see BODIES…The Exhibition, and I accepted.  However, that will not color my opinion or writing about the experience.  Please note that unless I am quoting something from the exhibition or stating a fact, all of the opinions expressed in this blog are purely my own.

“Seeing promotes understanding and understanding promotes the most practical kind of body education possible.”
– Dr. Roy Glover, BODIES…The Exhibition Medical Director

Photo courtesy of BODIES…The Exhibition.

The New York BODIES…The Exhibition offers an intimate view into the systems of the body, including: the skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, digestive, urinary, circulatory, and reproductive systems, fetal development, and the treated body.  Before you attend there are a few things you should know.  There are no cell phones or cameras allowed inside BODIES…The Exhibition but they do have a free coat check for your coats and bags.  I really loved this feature because it was rather warm in the Exhibition and ridding myself of my coat and bag allowed me to leisurely stroll through it at my own pace and enjoy it.  Also when I was there (2/16/11) there was a Foursquare check in and bonus offer.   Through March 31, 2011 you can order tickets online and save $6 by using the code NYCBODIES.

At the beginning of BODIES…The Exhibition, the intro read “Life Uncovered: A journey of self discovery whereby you gaze and marvel at real human bodies to discover what you are on the inside.”  When I told people I was going to visit BODIES…The Exhibition I received equal reactions of fascination and horror.  Seeing the bodies is not as gruesome as one might believe and the polymer preservation keeps the specimens in pristine condition.  It’s truly a marvel how they were able to preserve the bodies in such a way.  One of my favorite displays from BODIES…The Exhibition was the transverse sliced specimen gallery.

Transverse sections of the human body.  Photo courtesy of BODIES…The Exhibition.

Not only can you see what a normal organ should look like but there are many common diseases on display to observe such as lung cancer, peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis,  liver cirrhosis, and kidney stones.   I hear that many people give up smoking after seeing the effects of smoking on the lungs.  There is a bin right by the display where people can throw away their cigarettes.

Normal lungs versus smokers lungs.   Photo courtesy of BODIES… The Exhibition.

I had never truly realized how many blood vessels are in our bodies are until I saw BODIES…The Exhibition.  One of my favorite parts was seeing the circulatory and respiratory galleries.  The bronchial trees and pulmonary arteries are downright beautiful.  I want to sketch them and create beautiful pieces of art from them.  The systems remind me of the intricate networks of roots that trees and plants have.

Circulatory system gallery.   Photo courtesy of BODIES…The Exhibition.

Did you know that our nerve cells create electrical impulses that reach speeds exceeding 270 miles per hour?  I didn’t.  Our bodies are such amazing, intricate houses for our souls.  We are so delicate, intricate, and elaborate.  What we put in our bodies for fuel or for recreation truly has a system-wide impact.  I hope that everyone goes and sees BODIES…The Exhibition at some point in their lives so that they can truly understand their bodies and understand the impact of living a healthy lifestyle versus an unhealthy one.

My absolute favorite part of BODIES…The Exhibition was the fetal gallery.  There are actual fetuses on display at various stages in their development so there is a sign asking you to please consider whether you want to go into the fetal gallery before entering.  I highly recommend entering and seeing this portion.  It is incredible how fast the human fetus develops and the detail that is apparent in its form from a very early stage in its development.   In the gallery it says, “The heart begins to beat during the fifth week of development.” I sincerely hope that everyone who has a view on abortion, on which we all should have a view, sees the Exhibition and decides for themselves what they think is right.  Let’s focus on science and not religion in forming our laws and points of views.  A fetus is very small to begin with and would not survive without a host.

I feel very honored to have been able to see this exhibition and am grateful to all the souls who donated their bodies for the sake of science and for the education of others. At the end of BODIES…The Exhibition they have computers and machines that perform a variety of health tests.  My friend and I both checked our weight, body fat percentage, body mass index, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels.  It was fun and informative.  Make sure you don’t miss that fun little feature.

I would advise allowing at least an hour to see the Exhibition, but highly recommend spending more like two to three hours there.  I have a friend who spent six hours at BODIES.  There is so much to read, see, and observe that having the time to do so is imperative.

The Exhibition is located at:

BODIES… The Exhibition
11 Fulton Street
New York City, NY 10038

To purchase discounted tickets to NYC attractions please visit the NYC Ticket Machine.

BODIES… The Exhibition is located right near Pier 17 by the South Street Seaport. There are lots of little shops and restaurants there and it’s a nice place to take a stroll along the water.

Pier17. Photo by James.Michael


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FASHION: HWA’s Morgan Sheets Takes Us Behind the Scenes at Michael Kors’ 30th Anniversary Show – New York Fashion Week 2011

In my Travel Diary series this is TRAVEL DIARY: Day 2 A.M. – N.Y.C.

I wrote a guest post for The Helen Wells Agency about my backstage experience at the Michael Kors show. Check it out!