Glad Topographies: Finding Abundant Optimism in the World Around Us

To find optimism, all one must do is look around. 

Over the next few days, we are really going to attempt to strengthen our Instagram game. We’ll have a big announcement early next week — a little project Nikki is putting together.

However, as for now, I think I am ready to truly introduce you to my super secret Instagram. It’s called Glad Topographies. Some of you already follow, and I really appreciate it! But for the rest of you, well, I think it’s something you’ll truly enjoy!

In the past, I had been taking direct inspiration from the legendary @sadtopographies — with their blessing, of course — and finding only super happy place names.

Alas, there are only so many Oh-be-joyful Creeks in the world — and if I kept it up for too long it would reflect insincerity. There’s so much more to life than that.

Therefore, I’ve since simplified the premise, scouring Google Maps and finding cool, pretty places that reflect optimism. Included are amazing pictures credited to Instagrammers who have visited these interesting places. Follow to receive perhaps a jolt of wanderlust without all the touristy trappings common to the emotion.

That lends itself to a new weekly feature on Normal Happenings, which I’ll be calling This Week in Glad Topographies. I’ll simply be compiling the posts for that week, and reflecting further on them here on the blog!

This week we’ve attempted to discern the mystery of Agloe:

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Agloe, New York, U.S. 🇺🇲 — Where no one has gone before. Agloe is perhaps the most famous of the "paper towns," a concept made popular by the YA novel of the same name. It's simply a cartographer's trap, designed to ensnare counterfeiters trying to take advantage of the hard work of map makers. Like a fantasy world, Agloe only exists in our imagination. — So many Instagrammers tag Agloe to be ironic, but @emmaswanders and @nickaustin7 are the real deal for making the journey to Agloe. Full photo credit goes to them. — #agloe #newyork #notreal #fiction #fantasynovel #johngreen @johngreenwritesbooks #papertowns #papertown #books #maps #map #topography #geography #nowhere #imagination #ny #upstatenewyork #glad #contentment #gladtopographies

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We’ve ridden horses across the dunes of Tolowa:

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Tolowa Dunes, California, U.S. 🇺🇲 — Perusing the satellite view of the west coast, a certain flat terrain caught my eye just south of where Oregon and California meet. Tolowa Dunes and its collision of ocean side grassy dune and wooded ridge immediately obsessed me. Turns out many visitors ride these trails on horseback — no doubt an incredible way to enjoy an otherwise ordinary day. — Full credit goes to @chrishalsted and @nicolejeanhill for these incredible photos! Thanks @north_coast_redwoods for taking care of a place like this! — #california #pacific #pacificnorthwest #dunes #park #tolowadunes #coast #westcoast #leftcoast #oceanside #horseback #trail #trails #hiking #pines #ridge #peaceful #calm #happiness #glad #gladtopographies

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We’ve hiked the mountainside trails of Gladstone:

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Gladstone Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada 🇨🇦 — Glad Topographies makes its triumphant return! We're going to do things a little different this time around. We're not so much going to focus on finding the overtly happiest place names in the world, rather we're going to venture beyond the topographies. We'll be going to amazing places and seeing the sights of these epic life explorers who adventure to them. The world is beautiful, and anything is a Glad Topography in its own way! — Images of this beautiful park on the shore of Christina Lake are fully credited to @glendularfever and @johnsoda1234! — #hiking #hike #trekking #trek #lake #christinalake #wilderness #wanderlust #scenery #scenic #forest #outdoors #landscape #canada #britishcolumbia #trail #joy #gladtopographies

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And we’ve rounded the famous cape where two oceans meet!

Where will the future take us? Only time will tell — specifically, next Friday, and the one after that, and the one after that… Go follow Glad Topographies on Instagram!


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Apparently You Can Actually Like Your Own Writing

Cleaning my vehicle the other day, I discovered a long-forgotten CD under the seat. It was Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend. Turns out it’s been seven years since that album came out, and I hadn’t missed a thing – they were just now set to finally drop a new album in the coming months. New release Friday came last week, and of course I was going to stream their new album Father of the Bride two or three times, especially considering how good their lead single, “Harmony Hall,” is. I found the album a mess – all the ingredients are there, but some were overcooked and some half raw. That’s life; it happens. I’d just like to take care it doesn’t happen to me.

I started blogging around 2012, first on Tumblr, then self-hosted, and finally the WordPress Premium platform you see here. Tracking each year until now, I always found myself horribly repulsed by my own writing in increments of one year after hitting the publish button. The year 2015 would lead me to reject 2014’s scribblings, for instance. That is, until last year. Continue reading “Apparently You Can Actually Like Your Own Writing”

STARSTORM: Be a Good Reader on WordPress

I want to discuss what I consider to be the ideal strategy for being a good reader on WordPress. It all focuses on stars, which I consider to be the unsung hero of being a wonderful blogosphere citizen.

We have a cool feature on our Normal Happenings Starry-Eyed Discord. It’s called STARSTORM, and we’re really loving it. Basically, everyone gets to share their new posts, and then we go and make sure to star them on WordPress. I use a very similar process regarding my own WordPress reader. Continue reading “STARSTORM: Be a Good Reader on WordPress”

Social Media and the Filtering of Life

– By Nikki –

I have been given a great number of blessings in this life, despite my rough start. I am finally happy, and I want people to share that happiness with me. However, there is a certain social media network that has been controlling me for too many years.

That technology is Facebook, and of it I have come to a revelation. It would be wrong of me to turn special moments in my life into preprogrammed moments for social media.

I freely admit my problem: I am obsessed with Facebook because I want people to see that I am all right. I had a tough go growing up, and at times I want to be able to share with the people that I’m fine now. I am no longer the little girl that lost her mother 14 years ago. I don’t need the sympathy of others. Thanks to God I am doing well. Continue reading “Social Media and the Filtering of Life”

Love It or Leave It: Reviewing All 150 of My Subscribed YouTube Channels

Time for some spring cleaning! Let’s see: clean the oven – check. Organize my closet – check. Clean out my YouTube subscriptions… oh.

Gosh, I’m subscribed to 150 YouTube channels. Time to downsize.

The purpose of this list is threefold:

  • Introduce you to fantastic and not-so-great YouTube channels
  • Write astonishingly short very nonobjective reviews of the channels
  • Clean up my bloated subscription feed

Note that these are my choices and not always a reflection of quality. Some of the channels I choose to leave are actually good channels that you should subscribe to. I’m simply subscribed to too many channels and need to minimize.

Log into your YouTube account and strap in! This is going to be a long one. Continue reading “Love It or Leave It: Reviewing All 150 of My Subscribed YouTube Channels”

May These Four Updates Be With You

On the Sights and Sounds of Hyrule


There is no doubt in my mind now that Hyrule: See the Sights! Hear the Sounds! is going to be amazing. About half the posts from my amazing contributors are written and in the editing process! Some have even chosen to write two or even three sections!

On my end, I’ve started some preliminary visual design and audio editing. Nikki has also finished her semester and plans to sit down with me and insure that no typo gets through. I want nothing less than for this to be a true audiovisual feature with all the bells and whistles. That means thorough editing, high-quality art/design, internal continuity, and compelling content. Continue reading “May These Four Updates Be With You”