July 2, 2014

True Confessions

I slowly looked through a women's magazine. I sat with the images, the perfect images. Everyone's skin was flawless--no scars, wrinkles, or spots. Page after page of glowing, perfect skin. Impossibly perfect skin. 

As a photographer, I understand the importance of light. If only our lives were bathed in golden light. Instead, we see ourselves in varied light with unflattering views. So what is real? What is real in a culture of photoshopped models and my-life-is-beautiful social media? 

What's real for me is when I get offline--when I walk outside, hug a friend, savor a meal, share from the heart, or laugh with Mark. Life is messy. And I'm grateful for every messy moment. As a counterweight to all the impossibly perfect skin in magazines, I share with you some true confessions:

I'm not a natural blonde. Every six weeks I receive highlights from my stylist, Sarah. Here you can see my roots just before an update:

I delete 90% of the photographs I take. I shoot hundreds of images a day in order to get one I really like. I take many bad photographs.

I get frustrated by piles of dishes stacked in our drying rack. On occasion I start throwing the non-breakables around, to which Mark responds, "Yeah, take that!" And I smile.

If two words sound alike, I sometimes misuse one for the other, with the incorrect meaning. Me, the writer. 

Our lawn is one-half grass and one-half weeds. My flower beds are dense and wild (with fewer weeds).

I regularly have a good cry. Sometimes for a specific reason and other times because I feel generalized sadness. I always feel better after I cry.

I have no good reason, but I dislike crows. [Later: My friend Amy convinced me that crows are immensely likable. I'm sure there's something else I dislike for no good reason.]

I am both grateful for and horrified by the attention I get on Flickr

I have very deep laugh lines. And red, broken blood vessels all around my nose. 

I sometimes take inauthentic actions because I want someone to like me.

I'm a mindfulness teacher and some days I don't feel very mindful.

Sitting too much makes my lower back hurt. Stretching, yoga, and pilates make my back feel better. Some days I sit too much at the computer and don't stretch. Other days I stand at the computer and take yoga breaks. Life isn't perfect. And I'm grateful for every messy, imperfect, real moment. I'm grateful for it all.


  1. As I sit up at 2am with my worry-mind going, I am so grateful for your words. Thank you Joy!

    1. cyndi, i completely understand middle-of-the-night worry mind. i'm glad my words helped. hugs to you!

  2. And the best thing of all: you don't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

    Your hair radiates sunshine, your photos show dedication, the dishes-- frustration, the lawn? Acceptance. You cry to make space for happiness. You don't need a reason to dislike crows. Your flickr stream is a mix of talent and heart, your face is the result of living your life. You want others to like you, but more importantly you want to like yourself. Mindfulness isn't about being mindful 100% of the time- it's about the ability to begin again. And you do that. Regularly.

    Yes, Joy, your imperfections make you real. But they also make you beautiful.

    1. you're the best, steph. i just reread your words--really took them in--and they brought tears to my eyes. you're right, dear friend. thanks for being you!

  3. Thank you for that - your honesty is so refreshing and reminds me my flaws and imperfections are normal. I feel the same way about crows...they often show up in my poems as symbols for "dark things".

    1. thanks, sherri. i think it's good for all of us to remember that imperfections are normal. in fact, they connect us. ps: i'm glad to hear someone else has an aversion to crows. :)