anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Posts Tagged ‘Travel

The Winding Path of a Creative Life

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In February, I worked on a project with Subaru and She Explores. This post is brought to you in partnership with Subaru, all opinions are my own.

“I don’t really think that I’m creative.”

I was road tripping from Taos, New Mexico to Marfa, Texas in a 2018 Crosstrek with my good friend and filmmaker Sarah Menzies. We were headed to a storytelling experience hosted by She Explores and sponsored by Subaru. I was driving and she was sitting next to me, and I had just asked her if she had some kind of a daily creative practice.

Sarah makes a variety of films, all focused on interesting characters and important issues, like my recent favorite, “The Mirnavator.” For the last couple of years, I have been working with her on “Afghan Cycles,” a film about women cyclists in Afghanistan and challenging gender stereotypes from the seat of a bicycle. I would certainly consider her a creative and passionate individual, and she’s one of my friends that continually keeps me creatively inspired.

“You don’t think you’re creative?” I responded back to her, not hiding my shock at her statement. This is a woman who always has interesting ideas for how to tell a story, is always drumming up new ideas.

This launched us into a conversation about creativity, what it is and whether or not we “have it” or not. The idea that some of us are creative and that some us aren’t, based on the idea that creativity is some kind of talent, simply isn’t true. Creative thinking is a skill, one that takes work and practice. You don’t get off the couch and run a marathon in record time, and you don’t go from zero creative practice to coming up with a masterpiece. We have to work at creativity, work at doing the things that make our brains better able to think creatively, better able to make connections between ideas, and come up with new ones.

Our conversation about creativity continued, and we began talking about some of the difficulties that come with working in a creative profession. Creative work can be exhausting. There’s a privilege to being able to say that. I am well aware that I don’t have to go work in a mine every day, and I am thankful that I have a profession where I get to do things that I love. But one of the big fears that I often have is that eventually, the creative ideas will cease to come. When your income is tied to your creativity, there is a real fear in wondering whether or not one day you’ll run out of ideas. What happens if you don’t have another idea for a new project? Then what?

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Written by Anna Brones

March 1, 2018 at 10:47

The Journey is as Important as the Destination

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Yogyakarta by Anna Brones

“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for.” -Louis L’Amour

I love this quote that my friend Dan sent to me this week.

We are so often focused on the end goal – be it a destination, a deadline – that we forget to enjoy the process in between.

That is of course very true when we travel; we forget to slow down. But I also I think about this a lot in terms of doing creative work. You are always hustling to get something finished, it can be hard to focus on anything besides that list of things that you need to have accomplished by a certain time.

I have to force myself to stop and ask yourself, “why do I write?”

When I step back and think about my work, I remind myself that I do in fact love to write. If I let my mind wander, it immediately goes to envisioning a day when I can just sit in a quiet space with a cup of coffee and just write whatever I feel like writing.

But that’s the romantic version of writing. Instead, when I dive into my work, I am mostly stressed about getting an interview, getting to a certain word limit, or cutting something down. In the midst of the madness of the freelance hustle, I completely forget to appreciate that I am in the middle of actually doing the thing that I like to do.

The process isn’t always enjoyable. It can be downright frustrating and hard. But it can also be fun. That moment when you get into a certain flow and you feel like you could just keep going forever. It is those constant ups and downs – the seemingly never-ending roller coaster – that make the entire process so gratifying.

Overall, do you enjoy the journey? If not, it’s time to change paths. What can you do to slow down and appreciate the process?

If we don’t slow down, we forget what pushed us on our various life paths to begin with. There’s a routine to the everyday, but you can’t led it become a rut that silences your passion.

We are all on a journey somewhere, and it’s not just the destination that counts, so let’s all take a little time to slow down.

Written by Anna Brones

April 16, 2015 at 14:06

Happy Chinese New Year, From Paris

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Happy Chinese New Year, From Paris photo by Anna Brones

Paris is a postcard city.

Even if you have never been to Paris, you have a vision of what the streets and people look like. From books and movies, you have garnered what the ambience in a bistro must feel like. From paintings you know that there are cobblestones. From history class you probably know a thing or two about the Bastille and maybe even the Eiffel Tower.

Happy Chinese New Year, From Paris photo by Anna Brones

There are so many people that never come to Paris, and yet they have a view of it etched into their minds.

But while Paris is beautiful, romantic and all those other things you always want it to be, it’s also much more than that. In fact, it is so often completely different than the postcard view.

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Written by Anna Brones

February 23, 2015 at 19:01

Traveling on The Ghan: Australia’s Transcontinental Railway

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Traveling on The Ghan: Australia's Transcontinental Train  photo by Anna Brones

Last fall I spent a couple of months in Australia, and while I have had great intentions of sharing some photos from that trip, this has yet to happen. In the meantime though, I am excited about a piece I wrote for Roads & Kingdoms about taking The Ghan, a train that goes all the ay from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south, crossing through Australia’s Red Centre.

The Ghan is anything but fast. With an average speed of about 53 miles per hour, this is the definition of slow travel, but the train’s snail’s pace is perfect for taking in the desolate, unforgettable landscape outside the window: dusty red ground and dry desert foliage well adapted to the arid environment. We pass a pile of old timber, what looks to be a former cattle loading area. The pieces of wood are dark with age, left to bake under the Australian sun.

Read the whole article here. And check out some of my photos from the trip below.

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Written by Anna Brones

February 18, 2015 at 07:19

Paris: Where to Drink Good Coffee in the Marais

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Cafe Loustic, Paris

I’ve got a round up of favorite coffee shops in the Marais over on Sprudge, including some of my all-time favorites like Fondation and Loustic.

For a taste of the neighborhood, enjoy these photos. And click over to check out the guide, and maybe even lose some time checking out Sprudge, because what’s better than an entire website devoted to coffee?

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Written by Anna Brones

September 28, 2014 at 11:06

5 Favorite Coffee Spots in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam Cafes by Anna Brones

Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities, and not just for the bikes. There’s something about being surrounded by water that just makes me feel at home. You ride along the canals, your bicycle bumping over the occasional cobblestones and you can literally feel the pace of life slowing down.

On a recent weekend trip I made it a mission to track down good coffee (as usual). In fact I was so committed to my mission that half an hour after getting off the train I as sitting at local coffee roaster Headfirst drinking a filter coffee. If you’re committed, you’re committed.

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Written by Anna Brones

August 27, 2014 at 09:49

All About Bicycling in Paris

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“What’s it like to ride in Paris?”

This is a question that gets asked regularly, both by those interested in cycling and also by those that just think it’s nuts to ride a bike in a big city.

It’s actually a hard question to answer, because there’s no easy answer. It’s difficult. It’s wonderful. It’s often a hot mess. It’s rewarding. It’s big city biking after all.

But there’s nothing better than exploring a city on two wheels, and if you’re up for the challenge of riding in Paris, you won’t regret it. Plus, the more people riding, the better. That’s how we make change.

This week I’ve got a guide to cycling in the City of Light over on HiP Paris.

Despite all the romantic pictures you’ve seen of ladies in flowing skirts with flowers and baguettes in their quaint bike baskets, cycling in Paris isn’t always beautiful. It’s often fast, dirty and sometimes a bit harrowing. But it’s also rewarding. Because when the sunlight hits the buildings just right and you get into the flow of navigating a tight Parisian street on two wheels, life feels really good.

Paris is a city of winding streets and grand boulevards; cars, buses, and pedestrians that don’t pay attention; and recklessly antsy scooter riders, ready to dodge a vehicle whenever the opportunity presents itself. Stop paying attention for a few minutes and you can get yourself into a lot of trouble.

This is not to deter you from cycling. On the contrary, I want you to embrace cycling in Paris – the more cyclists the better – but it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into. An added benefit of mastering vélo riding in Paris is that because it’s not always an easy city to ride in, you’ll feel especially accomplished once you learn to make your way through the network of streets and bike lanes. You will definitely deserve that glass of Sancerre when you saddle up to the wine bar later in the evening.

Read the full article here.

Written by Anna Brones

July 24, 2014 at 08:13

Posted in Paris, Portfolio, Travel

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