April 25, 2014

Start Where You Are

At times, I feel equipment envy. I crave a better camera or a new lens. I dream of crisper shots and bigger prints. But then I remember: I have much to learn about light and composition. My bare-bones camera is enough. It's not about the equipment, it's about how I see the world.

Often we mistakenly think better equipment will make us happy. We want a better body or a new gadget. Yet life is not about the equipment. It's about starting from exactly where we are. One of the way we sabotage ourselves--our creativity, well-being, or relationships--is by this untrue story: I can't start something unless everything is perfect. I'll take a photography course after I buy a good camera. I'll sign up for yoga once I lose weight.  I'll nurture myself and my relationships when my schedule's less busy.

But life is always messy and imperfect. If we wait for just the right moment, we'll never begin. Wherever you are, that's the place to start--with honesty and gentleness. You have all the equipment you need. Start in this moment. What magic awaits you?

April 24, 2014

I am a Wombat

My art is mainly digital: this blog and photographs on Flickr. Most of my artistic tribe consists of online friends. And then I found the Wombats, a group--born just four months ago--of local artists. A group of talented, interesting, welcoming people. 

Here's what I love: we meet in person, share ideas, give hugs, drink beer, laugh, and support each other. And together we're hosting a pop-up gallery, "Signs of Life." We transformed an empty storefront into a space for art--both static and interactive. A space that exists for only four days. 

There's been a whirlwind of activity and many helping hands. It's an event for the community, put on by the community--a community of wombats. Tonight is the opening. I'm excited, nervous, exhausted, and extremely grateful. 

PS: Are you a Wombat, too? Creativity and art take many forms. Everyone is welcome.

PPS: I hung an interactive exhibit of my self-portraits: "Caption the Image." Stay tuned for more.

Post-opening-night update: Last night was magical. Many people came and more importantly, they engaged with the art. They interacted with music, art, and each other. I'll ride that wonderful energy for days.

April 16, 2014

The Weather Forecast

It's been a wild weather week. First came the rain--days of rain. Then came the cold. My backyard is puddles of water and snow. Ice falls from trees and telephone lines. I worry about the green shoots in my flower beds. Yet it's out of my hands. Nature is a wonderful teacher--of patience, loss, resilience, and growth.

It's also been a wild week for my internal weather. I've seen the depths of sadness and the heights of joy. I've experienced fear and calm, frustration and contentment, exhaustion and creativity. Our emotions mimic patterns of weather. Some feelings stay longer, some visit briefly; some emotions we enjoy, others we dislike. But no weather is permanent, just like no feeling is final. Change is what we can count on.

I question my internal weather forecast. At times it's helpful to predict my emotions, if they might be strong and I might be tender. But that's merely a prediction. Who knows how I'll actually feel until the moment arrives? Again, it's out of my hands. 

I chuckle when I read an incorrect right-now weather forecast. Like when the current status is rain, yet I see clear blue sky. The same happens with our internal weather. We assume we're fine when the actual feeling is sadness or frustration. We think we're fearful when the real emotion is excitement. We expect to be angry yet encounter empathy. 

It's good to question the internal forecast: What am I feeling right now? What needs attention inside me? In this moment, what stands between me and happiness? It's good to ask these questions and make space for the answers--to actively view our internal weather. Because the layers of unpredictable snow can melt and reveal lush, green grass.

April 9, 2014

Always Share the Happy Thoughts

Imagine you're having a conversation with a friend. And the discussion leads to an insight about another person--a kind act you witnessed, a positive change you noticed, a brave step you saw. It's easy to gloss over this experience, because that particular person isn't with you. Yet this happy thought is worth sharing. What if we remembered these happy thoughts--maybe wrote them down. And then made a point to share that positive moment with the other person (e.g., spouse, child, coworker, or friend).

We often protect our hearts from hurt. Interestingly, not sharing the good thoughts is a form of protection. What if I tell this person the positive change I noticed and he thinks I'm weird or she makes fun of my pollyannaish-ness? I'd like to share the good with this person, but that's just not how our relationship works. These are all forms of protection. Yet they also shield our hearts from gratitude and love. They constrict rather than expand.

Given the uncertainty of life, it's important to tell people what they mean to us. It's important to share the happy thoughts, listen to the difficult, and treat ourselves and others with kindness. There's no need to hold back the joy, love, and gratitude. If you realize something good about another--even the smallest thing--share it. Tell them. Kindness is contagious.

April 2, 2014

Sometimes There Are No Words

Life can be incredibly difficult. Death, illness, trauma, loss. Sometimes there are no words. No words to describe the depth of our feelings. No words to provide solace. We might space fill with inadequate words or avoid the situation, yet there's another path: sit next to each other during the difficult. Hold hands, give hugs, share tears, sit in loving silence. 

When the harshness of life overwhelms me, I fall back to relationships and connections. What else can we do but be there for each other? Celebrate the yays, actively listen, circle the wagons, share meals, cry and laugh together. When life is especially joyful or especially hard, there might not be words--presence is most important. Togetherness is most important. Like the shared experience of a gorgeous sunset or a new baby or raw grief. It's okay if there are no words. Being there--wholeheartedly--is enough.