April 24, 2012


My wish for everyone: to be authentic and vulnerable; to take risks; and to always believe in your basic goodness--trust in yourself. This is increasingly difficult in our culture of busyness and fear-based incentives.

There's an oft-referenced quotation from Gandhi: "Be the change you want to see in the world." In that spirit, I share a poem I recently wrote:

My Deepest Fear
Here is my deepest fear:
I bare my genuine self,
and I am rejected.
(Will you judge this poem?)
The anticipated pain sears me.
Quickly, I move from heart to head:
How do I make sense of a delicate existence?
Ego rejoins:
Control the whole world.
Tighten muscles, micro-manage, overwork.
I am protected by this multi-layered
fiction of control.
Yet I am unhappy and tired.

How do I make sense of a delicate existence?
I don't.
People will reject and misunderstand me.
My heart will break open with sadness and grief.
It will also break open with happiness,
joy, and love.
This is the uncertain and ambiguous
path I walk.

Naked with vulnerability I'm free.
Burdened with layers of protection,
I'm heavy and inauthentic.
What if my deepest fear is actually
a bold act of courage?
I bare my genuine self and
who knows?

April 22, 2012

Joyful Leap (try it!)

Yesterday was another long, fulfilling gardening experience. From 2-6, I dug a new flower bed, transplanted hostas, talked to my neighbors, picked up sticks, mowed the lawn, and stared at the sky. It was just a lovely day.

Before coming inside, I remembered a suggestion from photographer Andrea Scher: use your camera self-timer and take pictures of yourself as a superhero. I've used my self-timer to get self-portraits, but never in such a playful way. Be a superhero--why not? So I decided to set the timer and jump around my backyard:

I took multiple photos and laughed the whole time. After a few shots, Mark looked inquisitively out the window. (Also, in one of the photos, my backyard neighbor can be seen in the sliding glass door in the house behind me. It really is fascinating: why is that person jumping and laughing? The secret: we can all jump and laugh; no reason necessary.) I coaxed Mark outside to join me:

This was SO much fun. Anyone with a self-timer on your camera: take a few snaps of yourself leaping and posing in the air; add your loved ones, too. I assure it will make you laugh and definitely put you in touch with a wonderful sense of play. 

April 19, 2012

Extraordinary Ordinary

I'm taking a great online photography class, Superhero Basics, from Andrea Scher. Her Monday lesson resonated deeply with me (and echoed my current experiences and insights). She wrote about elevating the ordinary. As motivation for this, it's helpful to think about gorgeous, mind-blowing visuals (e.g., incredible sunsets, delicate details of flowers, brilliant colors in a garden). These are often best experienced, as few photographs do them justice. If you see something extraordinary, then just see it; drink it in. 

But let's face it: most of life is not filled with extraordinary visuals and experiences. Most of life is filled with the ordinary. To bring out the extraordinary in the ordinary, we need a combination of play, mindfulness, creativity, and willingness to experiment. As Andrea puts it: "Take something that on the surface is not beautiful and see it into beauty" [emphasis hers]. I love the idea of seeing something into beauty. I love this idea not only for photography, but for life. How can we see a difficult interaction into beauty? Or see ourselves into beauty? Or see doing the laundry into beauty? Or see grief into beauty? These are thought-provoking and emotional questions.

After work on Monday, I toured my backyard and looked at my plants. (Oh they loved the rain we got Sunday.) As I walked up the steps to my house, I noticed all the tree droppings on the mat--a mat I just cleaned off the day before. My first thought: these tree droppings are so messy and never seem to end. My second thought: these tree droppings are beautiful.  I spent five minutes photographing the mat. And guess what? Afterward, I was in a much lighter mood.