One artist's quest to capture her travels led to these stunning portraits of wild women.
True
Nature Valley

Amanda Sandlin is only 27, but she's lived in a van, on a ship, and on both ends of the world.

And not in a clichéd, "quit your job and pursue your dreams" sort of way. In fact, through hard work and determination, she's found a way to make adventuring her job. You could almost call adventuring her family's business.

Photo by Kris Holbrook, used with permission.


“I grew up on cruise ships,” she explains, where her mom taught arts and crafts and ballroom dancing. Beginning after first grade, she was homeschooled — or, rather, “shipschooled” half the year, and homeschooled on a farm in Pennsylvania for the remaining time.

“It’s pretty bizarre,” she laughs, looking back on how unusual her upbringing was.

Amanda's unconventional start in life led her to develop a courageous spirit — one that would take her to places that most only dream of.

"It’s so easy for me to be moving," she says. Though she returned to the mainland for high school and college, it took only a few months in the traditional work world for Amanda to realize that she belonged back out on an adventure.

This time, she turned to the outdoors, reading about and watching people who went climbing, biking, surfing. “I grew up traveling but I never really did much outdoors stuff,” she says. "I started thinking, 'I would love that kind of life.’”

Photo by Gianni S. Visciano, used with permission.

Finally, she decided to stop longing for it and start living it. "I packed up my car and my cat, and I drove to San Francisco."

Throwing caution to the wind, Amanda chased her desires wherever they led her — all the way around the world.

But not before getting a writing job at a company whose employees worked remotely, allowing her to travel and climb wherever she chose. When she tired of weekends in Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, she took off for New Zealand.

After a year, she returned to the States, but her adventures were far from over.

“That’s when I was like, you know, I’m single, I don’t feel like anywhere is home to me, so why don’t I just build out a van and travel until I find the place that feels good?”

Photo by Amanda Sandlin, used with permission.

In her van, affectionately named Penny, Amanda looped her way all over North America.

"I started in Florida and went up the east coast to Maine. Then I drove out to Colorado, up through Oregon and Washington to British Columbia, and I stayed there for a while," she remembers. "I drove down to southern California, up through New Mexico, and then made a loop back to Colorado."

She decided to settle in Denver, where she lives now with her rescue dog, Dewey.

Though she's no longer traveling full-time, Amanda is by no means back on the beaten path.

While out on the road, her work shifted gradually from writing into design and now, she's a full-time freelance artist.

Photo by Amanda Sandlin, used with permission.

"It happened pretty naturally," she says. As her work assignments became more and more visual, she started teaching herself graphic design and creating projects of her own on the side.

Image via Amanda Sandlin.

She began posting her projects online, and people started seeking her out for commissioned work. "That's how I got my freelance clients," she says. "They came to me."

Soon after, she left her remote job to live off her art alone.

In her art, Amanda strives to capture the spirit of adventurousness — her own, and that of women like her.

Image via Amanda Sandlin.

“I’m really inspired by the women who are willing to venture into the wilderness, whether that’s mountains and forests or weeding through the difficult stuff you’re doing on the inside,” she says. That exploration inspires the portraits she draws of wild women.

Image via Amanda Sandlin.

“I draw a lot of women with their hair blowing in the wind. I think I like that motion of the hair,” she says.

“You know when you’re walking outside, on a ferry or something, and your hair keeps blowing and you keep trying to put it back, bobby pin it, put it in a ponytail, but it keeps blowing in your face, and finally there’s that moment where you just let it go?" she asks.

"It’s like a complete release, and that, to me, is the type of feeling that I aim to capture in my artwork.”

Image via Amanda Sandlin

Perhaps most interesting about Amanda is the fact that she doesn't think of herself as brave.

In fact, she thinks that anyone, really, could do what she does. Adventuring, she says, is not necessarily packing up a van named Penny and heading out on the road. "The wilderness is the internal and the external and being OK with not being OK."

The satisfaction that she has gotten from being free to be outdoors, on adventures, to climb across the country and capturing art in nature, is well worth the struggle required to make her lifestyle work. And, she says, she hopes that others are inspired to find ways to pursue their own adventures, too.

"It's scary to make a change, or to chase after what you want," she says. "But it's never, it's rarely easy. It's never going to feel only good. But it's a challenge, and that's what makes you grow."

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less

The current COVID-19 "strategy" from the White House appears to be to push for theoretical "herd immunity" by letting the virus spread among the young and healthy population while protecting the elderly and immunocompromised until a certain (genuinely unknown) threshold is reached. Despite many infectious disease experts and some of the world's largest medical institutions decrying the idea as "a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence," and "practically impossible and highly unethical," the radiologist Trump added to his pandemic team is trying to convince people it's a grand plan.

Aside from the fact that we don't know enough about the natural immunity of this virus and the fact that "herd immunity" is a term used in vaccine science—not as a strategy of purposefully infecting people in order to get through an infectious disease outbreak —the idea of "infect the young, protect the vulnerable" is simply a unworkable strategy.

Look no further than the outbreak among the college student population in Pullman, Washington to see why.


Keep Reading Show less