Travel within the Mind: Meditation and a Clearer Outlook by Alyssa Risley

To find peace and serenity in the chaos of the daily routine is key for progression and self appreciation. 💕💕 

Within the past few months I've recently started meditating several times a week to empty the useless clutter of my mind and make room for clarity and more focused productivity. Soon my goal is to practice meditating daily. I had always been curious about the art of meditation, but I subsequently honestly felt it would be too difficult or daunting to accomplish on my own. I still have a lot to learn and master with the discipline, but ever since I started listening to Tim Ferriss and his podcast months ago, I've learned that a very significant number of successful or interesting people incorporate meditation into their routines, even actors or people you wouldn't necessarily expect. I began to realize that a clear and fresh mind is an essential foundation for reaching your fullest potential and accomplishing the work necessary to see your dreams come to fruition. So!! In all, no matter what you do or what your future goals might be, I would recommend trying out thinking less and giving meditation a chance. It's really quite intriguing what a fresh perspective and clean slate can bring to your week.


P.S. If you don't know who Tim Ferriss is, go learn about him, he's super rad, his book The 4-Hour Workweek changed my entire perspective on my lifestyle potential, seriously....

**Photo Collage Credit: Sky background photo: my own, 2015 Breckenridge, CO.      Mandala Art:

Fly Away to Florida by Alyssa Risley

Florida!!! A mini trip of sunny and 70. Mostly work-oriented, but I did manage to hit up Tasty Tuesday’s in Orlando for some low key local food truck goodness near downtown, as well as a day trip to Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach for some East Coast sunshine and flavor!

Florida Swag List:

1. One Teaspoon Bonitas, perfect summer vibe shorts.  2. Colorful hair bands, better than regular hair ties.  3. Compass Ring, I’ve been wearing this almost everyday since I ordered it from Etsy a year ago, helps me to find my grounding when I’m lost away in my mind.  4. Dot Dash Blue Tortoise Sunnies, snagged in Hawaii, sold to a random guy in Florida for 4X the price. No Joke. #Swag.  5. Gold Tip Antler Necklace, also one of my staple jewelry pieces over the last year.  6. Greetings from Florida! I love to collect and send post cards while I travel, it’s a timeless fun souvenir to send in the mail. 7. Nike Lunarlons, these are my everything workout/active shoes, I custom splatter painted them with some black liquid acrylic to make them extra Alyssa.  8. Aloha Water Bottle from Urban Outfitters in Honolulu, super useful and such a great buy for yoga and travel and everyone drinking water ever.  9. Wildfox Gym Bag, I use this bag everyday as a laptop/camera/work stuff bag, it fits everything I need for being productive on a daily basis, and it’s super cute.  

Gypsy Tip #14: Attach an awesome carabiner water bottle to your backpack or carryon bag at the airport, you’ll have to pour it out through security, but once you’re through to the gates, it’ll save you so much money and hassle!! (8. Aloha!) #SaveThePlanet

Gypsy Tip #32: When taking a small excursion, it’s best to dawn one set of jewelry (as many rings, necklaces, earrings, and anklets you usually wear at any given time) and stick with that to minimize packing and simplify wardrobe selection during the trip!

I liked Florida, it was my first time there, I definitely want to go back again, but next time I want to see Miami and Key West, and preferably closer to the warmer end of the seasons!


Colorful Ice Castles of Midway by Alyssa Risley

The BoyToy drinking Hot Cocoa styrofoam style.

The BoyToy drinking Hot Cocoa styrofoam style.

Nati-Ice lol

Nati-Ice lol

Rainbow Color Changing Ice Castles!!

Since it's Valentines Day today, I thought I might post about some romantic winter adventuring. We took a trip to the Ice Castles earlier this week partially for photo shoot location scouting, and partially for an adorably freezing end to an anniversary date! These majestic castles are located up in the mountains of Midway, UT. About a half hour drive from Park City, or an hour drive from Downtown SLC. They're a Midway tradition, unlike a lot of the other 'traveling' Ice Castles around the country, these are built here every winter only for winter!

Seriously, sooooo cold but sooooo pretty!!! My first Ice Castle experience was in Breckenridge two winters ago. I remember the cold, but I don’t think I remembered the cold quite as cold as this. Ice Castle advice numero uno: Layer up!!! My boyfriend’s feet almost basically froze off because he was only wearing Vans. Haha But the hot cocoa was fantastic and only like $3.50, and the experience itself was intriguingly surreal! 

Below is my Swag List of Ice Castle Essentials:

1. First off: FUR. Whether it’s real or vegan, you’ll need some serious insulation.  2. Vintage Fur Coat. The one I wore is my Grandmother’s, and the warmest thing I had in my car. 3. Hot Cocoa! As I mentioned above, perfect compliment to the seemingly arctic freeze.  4. Furry Ear Muffs because they're more adorable than regular ones.  5. Fun Snowboard-Grade Burton Mittens, I prefer mittens because they keep my fingers warm and cozy altogether. 6. Black Patent Moon Boots! 7. A picture of an upside-down glacier in the Antarctic, because I felt like it fit the tone <3

Ice Castle Address: 2002 Soldier Hollow Road, Midway, UT

It's only open for a few months of winter, so if you're going to go, you should plan ASAP!! Ticket prices are only $10 - $18, depending on what day of the week you go and whether you buy ahead online. Http://

Personally, my next Ice Adventure I'd love to be in a land far far away in a super cool Ice Hotel (James Bond style) or maybe even Iceland!

Until Next Time Ice Queens!!! XOXO

Sundancing in Park City by Alyssa Risley

This past week was the Sundance Film Festival!! Yay!! I was pretty excited to actually be in Salt Lake while the infamous Hollywood-Winter escapade was happening this year. I didn't get to participate as much as I had originally wanted, but I did get out and see the scene for at least one night!

Below is my Wednesday Sundance Swag List of what I decided to wear that night, and what I feel are some of my serious winter staples:

1. Technica Moon Boots!!!! Love love love these, I've worn them for almost 3 winter seasons now, and I'm ever longing for a new pair. They're such a hit in the mountains, and everywhere basically, everyone everywhere loves Moon Boots. They're like walking on Mattresses. Get some. 2. Long Thigh High Grey Socks from SockDreams. Perfect for layering winter warmth and cuteness. 3. Slouchy Navy Sweater. The one I wore was from Stefanel in Florence, Italy. 4. Cosmic Leggings. From Ebay... Shhhh... Don't tell. They honestly are an awesome pattern, and they go perfect with my pink and blue hair right now. 5. Chelsea Shearling Coat from Nasty Gal, I've had this asymmetrical thing for a few years now as well, it's warm and cozy and it's neutral tone goes well with almost anything. 6. Fur Trapper Hat! I've had an obsession with this style of hat forever. It's awesome. Best warm hat mountain chic winter accessory. 7. Vodka Tonic. Everyone needs a cocktail for their party nights, and on this particular night my friend from Five Wives and Underground Liquor who sponsored the event provided a free one, just for me! 

Monument Valley & The Mittens by Alyssa Risley

Yay! The infamous southwest icons of the Utah desert!!! The place that every wandering gypsy writes down in her dream road trip itinerary. I've always been a Southwest girl at heart, forever favoring cactus shaped accessories and navajo printed blankets, and an obvious desire to travel to all places stereotypical of the west. Especially since the release of the Harper's Bazaar 2013 Issue featuring Candice Swanepoel appearing humbly in the foreground of the blazing red valley, (one of my top favorite fashion mag covers of all time btw), I've been itching to take pictures of this place in real life... And finally, mitten dreams realized!

This is a level 1 visit, so even the most anti-wilderness of fashion divas can make it here without even needing to step a single stiletto in the dirt. **Note: Vehicle entry is $20.. But that's the biggest downfall.

Below is my Monument Valley Swag Pack List of most of what I wore for the day, and my additional recommendations for visiting the park:

1. Black wide brim hat, one of my desert gypsy staples, I wear this thing everywhere, but it actually does get super bight and sunny in the desert, so having face shade is kind of a nice thing. 2. Sunglasses!! Bejeweled or not, seriously a desert adventure essential. I prefer the low-tint effect (less chance of tan lines.) 3. Floral bralette from Free People, awesomely lightweight and barely there. 4. Dior Addict 013 Shimmer, the ultimate summer gloss and the only lip gloss I buy. 5. Black Havaianas, summer = flip flops. 6. Lace Up Tripp NYC Shorts, best low-key goth shorty shorts. 7. Genesh Slub Tank by Sinns Art, purchased from an arts fair in Vegas a few years back,a bit cliche, but I love it. 8. Gold Antler Tip Necklace, another Alyssa staple, purchased in Honolulu.

**Gypsy Tip #27: Clothing/accessory items in a single outfit must be purchased from at least 3 different states/countries to maintain authentic gypsy-ness.

When visiting the park, make sure to drink some water, and bring someone who likes to explore. On my next return to the valley, I really want to go on an excursion on the dirt path around the mittens as I wasn't able to this time. And, for my ultimate dream return trip, I'd like to execute a high scale fashion shoot in monument valley, mittens in golden hour glory, 15 person crew, the works. Also, mayyyyybe not wear SO MUCH black... Haha

XOXO - Happy Deserting!

Wild Red in Lake Powell by Alyssa Risley

A much needed trek into the wildly fierce desert oasis of Lake Powell was successfully completed!  3 Days, 6 Friends, 1 Cat, 1 Boat, and 1 crudely constructed campsite in the majestically unforgiving Arizona wilderness... Oh, and 30.5 seconds to pack all of the necessary gypsy awesomeness... Legitimately turned out to be nothing less than one HELL of an unforgettable time... AND with one of the most miraculous sunsets imaginable, WHICH I captured on camera. #Yes.

There were definitely some things that went awry (extreme wind on the last day, blown away campsite, and almost losing the cat several times) but there were wayyyy more things that went right.  I absolutely loved the experiences I shared, the obstacles I overcame, and the photographs I was lucky enough to take.  

Being a girly-girl at my core, camping in the deep wilderness for days used to sound freakin' terrible to me, not to mention fashionably illogical, but now a last minute several-day excursion is a no-brainer. Of course I will go forth into the wild and be fabulous!

Below is my Lake Powell October Trip Swag Pack List of most of what I brought with me (attire only), and my additional recommendations for a late autumn desert adventure:

1. Obviously you need a backpack to store all the goods, I just grabbed the first thing I could find, but ridiculous bright blue Dollskill foxtail keychain for the zipper? Essential. Haha  2. Sunscreen!!!! I can't stress this enough, if you only bring one beauty cream with you to the great outdoors, save yourself from tomato face and grab the screen. If you forgot it, buy it at the super-overpriced Marina store. Do it.  3. Marshmallows for roasting!!!!  4. One of my fav bikini's, the One Teaspoon silver liquid awesome, don't fear the tan lines, they're the coolest ones you could ever get anyways. But seriously, don't forget a suit, one of the girls who came with did, and she wore my spare the entire time!  5. Rockin' rhinestone desert shades, perhaps excessive for camping? But hey, I live for excessive. Shades in general you NEED for the scorching desert sun.  6. "I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight." Best. Desert. Top. Ever... 'Nuff said, purchased from Widow's Den in Las Vegas.  7. Flip Flops! It's good to just grab some easy wear, potentially easily losable feet friends. I forgot mine and had to buy a crappy pair of kiddy flops, but I would've much preferred these Havaianas. 8. "Never Love A Cowboy." Sweatshirt, Wildfox, pink color, love. 9. Sweatpants!! The desert can get chilly at night, especially in the fall. People tend to forget that. I just used my awesome boyfriend's, but any pair will do!

XOXO - Best of luck fashion gypsies!

Graffiti Rainbows of Texas by Alyssa Risley

One of my favorite things about adventuring around a new urban area is stumbling upon graffiti enclaves. With beautiful color and thought-provoking material, there is so much under-appreciated and underrated awesomeness in the symbols and stories sprayed across cityscapes all over the globe... 

I've personally always enjoyed taking photos of graffiti, from Bologna to Vegas. Back in college, (circa 2009) I did a personal film photography series of the graffiti art of Downtown Los Angeles. Similar in color and life, these shots in this post were taken in various areas near Downtown Houston, surprisingly, a nice bright pop of culture in a seemingly vast and dull industrial hub. I definitely needed to find these murals when I did, they even led me into making a new friend!

A message to my wildly talented city street art hooligans: #SprayOn.

A message to everyone else: #StopAndLookAtArt

Road To Hana by Alyssa Risley


I decided I NEEDED to photograph all of the green amazingness possible, most of it from a speeding car (boyfriend driving semi-recklessly) around, up, down, stop, go, stop, stop, yea, obviously I like a challenge.

The road around rural Maui.

My second trip on the Road to Hana this year was a journey made with family. My brother and his girlfriend's parents met up with us in Maui for some island exploration.  "The Road" is always an all-day event, at minimum, driving as fast as possible around the winding single-lane switchbacks, the road will take 4 hours to tour, and that's without the sightseeing. There's so much jungle and hidden surf to explore, every time you adventure around this side of the island, you discover something new and magical.

Honestly the magic of Hana can be as low-key or high intensity as you'd like, whether you just what to take the scenic drive and look fabulous while snapping shots from the rental car the entire time, or if you want to get really gypsy serious, you can hike miles through the immense jungles and bamboo forests to reach towering waterfalls (totally worth it.) Along the drive, the local food stands and the handmade trinkets are abundant and highly photo-icon worthy, Hana really is a perfect representation of old-school Maui at its touristy best.

Below is my Hana Road Trip Swag Pack List of most of what I wore and I few goodies just for FYI purposes:

1. Blue reflective sunglasses, Billabong in Lanikai. 2. Hibiscus Flowers!!! So beautiful, they seem like the perfect Hawaiian ear accessory, but be careful before you pluck one for wear, a crap ton of tiny evil bitting bugs could be waiting to chew your face off. Ask the locals. 3. Gold Antler Tip Necklace, an authentic Oahu find. 4. POW Vintage Muscle Tee, snagged this at the local market in Kihei, pure one-of-a-kind awesome. 5. Swimwear!! Here I'm wearing a Black Bikini from Pakaloha Bikinis, with several locations in Maui, they have some great bikinis in like every color, and they give you an adorable hand colored paper baggie for your purchase!! And then for my bottoms, Mikoh Swimwear teenie mint greenies from Molly Brown's Swimwear. ***Side Note: Gypsy Rule #36: It's fun and way more interesting to always mix-match your bikini tops and bottoms.  6. Acai!! While in Hawaii everyone must try true fresh acai, some of the best I found on the island was at the Farmacy Health Bar in Wailuku (pictured.). 7. Plumeria Fragrance Oil, beautiful scented oil I picked up from one of the lovely trinket shops along the road for only $10! 

XOXO - Good Vibes & Aloha <3


A Day in Waimea Bay by Alyssa Risley

A Day in Waimea Bay: Cliffs & Sunsets of North Shore, Oahu.

A drive up to the North Shore of Oahu island brings you to the totally hippie, way more EuroAsian vibes that the title "Hawaii" resonates with.  If I could chose to live anywhere on Oahu, it would be here, it made my hippie heart sing with belonging.  Tons of tasty taco trucks, big winter surf, crystal turquoise water, and rural tropical weirdness.  The cliff jumping was pretty rad too.  Definitely original Oahu at its finest.

"Just another day in Paradise."  -Everyone living in any magical place in all parts of the world.


The Exclusivity of Lanikai by Alyssa Risley


Lanikai... The hidden beach of Oahu.

Located on the posh side of Oahu, reminiscent of a mini Malibu, brings the feeling as though you have to be "in-the-know" to stumble across its sandy shores.  Tucked away behind rows of beach houses with dwellers who have seemingly done life right, it exudes exclusivity and a quaintly almost-foreign charm.

My island travelers and I planted towels, picked flowers, sipped rum, and found serene refuge here for the last hours of daylight before heading back to the opposite world of Honolulu.  

Back to Bamboo Land by Alyssa Risley

Perspectives of the mystical Bamboo Forest. 

In honor of my return to the lovely volcanic paradise of the pacific, this post is from my Dr. Seuss adventure I took on my first trip to Maui. 

I loved my time in Hawaii so much, I thought "Why not?" and the last few weeks have been spent hopping from place to place in the Southwest, and moving my life from the mainland and the rocky mountains to the lush island of Oahu.  Of course my moves are never entirely permanent, a season or two, enough to ride the wave of paradise and then find my next adventure. This move has been pretty wild, as I often favor my live to be, but more posts of tropical utopia and my my time in-between to come soon.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." - Theodore Lesieg

The Beginning by Alyssa Risley

I take pictures of beautiful people and beautiful things in beautiful places. That's my prerogative. 

I’ve wanted to start a blog for many years now, always sweeping it to the background of my priorities, making excuses about time, the amount of dedication it would require, and the amount of awesome I would need to become before anyone would really care about my posts. But, if in the course of just 2 weeks, my life can involve wild boat dancing in the middle of a desert lake, drives up volcano tops for majestic sunrises above the clouds, falling in love, hitch hiking, hidden cultural hubs with tropical pizza, mansion parties with Vegas views, drinking from coconuts, sneaking into the pool at the Ritz, and photographing magnificence on the beaches of Maui.... Well, I may not be as awesome as I want to be yet, but I'm pretty certain I’m on my way.

"I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring.”  -David Bowie