Adventure to Asia // The Preface

As most of you already know (because it's become the highlight of my existence), a few days from now I'll be setting off on a backpacking trip across SE Asia for the next two months. Since I've been getting a lot of questions about the details of my trip, I thought I'd throw together a brief podcast to clue everyone into our plans - at least, whatever plans we've made so far :) 

This does mean, however, that Känsla is going to be dormant for a brief period of time. Please feel free to keep up with whatever glimpses of the adventure I'm able to share via Instagram (@zoecazal), otherwise, check back here in September for photo recaps, travel diaries, epic storytellings and of course, a big ol' batch of songs you'll absolutely need to hear. 

I want to take one last second to say THANK YOU to everyone that made this possible. First and foremost, thank you to my parents and family for their endless support and unconditional love. Secondly, thank you to the Akhtar, the Marquez and the Melucci families for your support, you all really made this trip happen for me and I could not be more appreciative. Thanks to the Griffins for your guidance and also for hooking it up with the necessary travel gear. Thanks to Rosabelle for loaning me her backpack otherwise I don't think this would be possible hehe, and big thanks to the rest of my friends for being the greatest supporters and best friends in the world. Lastly, thank you to all my yoga teachers, spiritual guides and inspirational mentors along the way who have gradually encouraged me to take the journey down the path of deepening my yogic practice. I cannot wait to earn the title of a yoga teacher and do the same for others. 

Have a great summer my wonderful kinfolk! Catch y'all on the flipside :) 

Celebrating Earth Month by finding purpose, conserving resources, and sticking to sushi.

What are the tenets of your life?

What do you do to craft a life that feels complete and rewarding? Is your life about pursuing a career? Maintaining personal fitness? Having a bomb ass wardrobe and sense of style? Is being close with your family a top priority for you? Exploring the world or leading a start up company? I’m genuinely curious – this is different for everyone and I think it’s fascinating to think what aspects people strive to attend to, knowingly or not, on a daily basis in order to live that they are satisfied with.

Being 23 and all, my core values and goals change depending on what time of day you ask me, but I am proud to say at least a few of them are starting to establish themselves as concrete. To name a few: I like to lead a somewhat active lifestyle paired with relatively decent dietary habits; I try to balance quiet, personal time with enough social interaction to keep me sane; I do my best to be attentive and proactive to facilitate a stress-free lifestyle; I keep up with my family and close friends as often as I can, and I try everyday to make my occupation one that is enriching for both myself and the people it benefits.

But, recently, I felt like something was missing.

Then I realized – maybe I was focusing only on myself. Although I work to serve others, I don’t really voluntarily do anything to give back, or have a “cause” that I’m passionate about. And I think that’s something incredibly important, and often overlooked by my peers. Community service or philanthropy should be a tenet of a rewarding life, don’t you think?

Well, upon realizing this, it didn’t take long for my “cause” to come rain down over me (lol). In the days that followed, I started to see it everywhere, literally. It was climate change. That was something that, when I read headlines or articles or statistics or sat inside watching flash floods rip through my neighborhood, really stirred something on the inside. So I decided I had to do something about it. Join a local organization? Maybe find a service trip? Heck, trade in my car for an electric one?!

Well, sometimes making a positive change doesn’t always have to be drastic. Isn’t that great news! There are tons of ways you can do your part to help with the climate change issue, or just to benefit the planet if you’re not convinced by any of this climate nonsense. Sure, you can recycle, drive less, replace your light bulbs and turn off your lights when you’re not home. But one of the shockingly biggest things you can do? Stop eating beef.

Now, I’m not saying this is for everyone! But hear me out real quick, because the facts behind this are pretty outstanding, and worth informing yourself about. Here’s a few that stuck with me:

  • The livestock sector produces about 15% of global greenhouse gases, roughly equivalent to all the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship, and aircraft on the planet (like what?!). (source)
  • The production phase of red meat contributes to 83% of the average US household's carbon footprint, per year. (source)
  • The conversion of fossil fuels used to produce feed for a single cow comes out 284 gallons of oil per cow. Just a single cow! (source)
  • The production of meat & dairy uses one-third of the world’s fresh water supply. (source)
  • In fact, while the numbers may vary, it can take over 1,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. By far, that's the most for any sort of animal meat production. (source)

So you know what I'm up to these days? Oh, just being a pescatarian. And what better month to make a personal change than Earth Month, of course?!

Now, like I said, this isn’t for everyone. I rarely eat red meat so it’s not a tough thing for me to cut it out completely. But if everyone could eat maybe one less burger a week, studies show it could make a huge difference! Crazy how just one small act could contribute so much in the long run.

I’ve linked to a few different videos below that I found to be really informative on the topic, and if you have a few minutes, watch one! I highly recommend the Al Gore TED Talk, because as shocking as his is to listen to, there’s a crazy twist at the end. Spoiler: our climate change efforts are actually starting to show progress. WHAT!!!

And you know, if you just love red meat, and don’t believe all these crazy storm patterns and droughts and melting icebergs have any relevance whatsoever, then maybe you can find another cause! Something that you do anywhere from once a week, to once a year that benefits other, be it donating to a charity or standing up for someone who’s being bullied. Make it a point to think about others, or our society, or our world, at least every now and then. Because you might just be surprised how rewarding you will find it to be.

*mic drop*

Playlist: Down the Rabbit Hole

I've had a very eclectic mix of musical fixations lately. After coming off a four month stint of listening to pretty much exclusively soul & blues, I went back to my comfort genre of trending future electronic and hip-hop, then there were a few days of early Lady Gaga and Kanye albums followed by an entire week of strictly, unapologetically passionate flamenco music. However this... this playlist... is just about everything. 

My appreciation for 1960s and 1970s culture is no fleeting obsession I'd like to note, as I feel like I've been living with my heart halfway in those decades since I was first introduced to the flowing hair, free loving state of mind. This playlist though, clocking in at a whopping 80 total tracks, has really taken me back and honestly just helped me see my daily activities with a fresh pair of eyes. An absolutely flawless mix of classic and psychedelic rock, with an ingenious twist of vintage bossanova jams, will really take you down a rabbit hole of great, enlightened vibes. Enjoy! 

SONGS YOU SHOULD KNOW // OCTOBER 2015

About a year ago, I was scrolling through the weekly email blast from my university's newspaper, looking for a story pitch that I would actually be interested in picking up. I'm not a hard news type, was involved little with campus happenings, and didn't know the first thing about sports, so I rarely felt compelled to contribute, but then all of a sudden, I saw it: "Ten Songs You Need to Hear Now." It was like someone knew I was now writing for the school paper. I jumped on it immediately, and in no time I had whipped up a Soundcloud playlist and corresponding tracklist with tidbits about each song included. I didn't think much of it, as I couldn't name one of my friends who read the school paper, but the response from that short playlist was huge. After that, it became a monthly write-up for me; I spent the first three weeks of every month aggregating good music from every corner of my world and published it on the last week for all my readers - err, listeners. 

Well, after graduating and wrestling with feelings of being insignificant and not contributing to the world like I should, I realized, why should I stop doing something I love as simple as sharing music just because I don't write for a university paper anymore? Hence, one of the founding moments of this site itself, as a place for me to continue doing what I love and providing music for the lives of those around me. 

Here is the first playlist I've released since graduating in May, sure to be one of many more to come. If you like my taste in music, then be sure to check back here at the end of every month for another one of my round ups. And, once you've exhausted this list, you can check my Soundcloud for all of the previous editions of "Songs You Should Know." And if you have any songs you think need to make an appearance on the next volume, send it my way :) 

This playlist originally appeared on Fresh New Tracks. For the full article and tracklist, click here.