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A couple of months ago I was speaking to a mom from my son’s school about the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  She’s a writer and was feeling stuck and had recently heard about the book.  If you are not familiar with the Artist’s Way, it is spiritual journey to help you unlock the creativity in you or to help brake down the barriers that are keeping you from being creative.  I love the book.  I started the spiritual journey a couple years ago and then stopped.  I think I stopped because I was going from being a stay-at-home mom to a career outside of the home.  The book helped me breakthrough many of the barriers in my life and where I developed the courage to; start a career outside of the home, leave my husband and find me.  Why I stopped midway through the book I cannot tell you.  So, when she mentioned having an interest in the book to help her get unstuck I told her it was a great idea.  In fact, it had me reflecting on the fact that I haven’t picked up my camera since going back to work.  I was stuck, again.  She asked if I was interested in starting a group and I said yes.  The journey began.

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Doing the book this time had it’s own challenges. My schedule was a bit crazier than it was the first time so found it difficult to find time to write my morning pages and do the exercises.  I realized this was the first of obstacles I had to challenge in order to unlock my creativity.  I was watching another woman in my group blossom.  She really took to the book and started carrying her camera with her everywhere.  She was an inspiration to me.

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I then found this quote that also inspired me; To strive even higher, to do even better—the creative process is a desperate struggle to go beyond what we were yesterday. It is a battle against resting on our laurels, against the fear of losing what we have. It is an adventure into unknown territory.” -Daisaku Ikeda  I realized that my fears and the unknown were holding me back and decided I wanted to win over this so I decided it was time to take out my camera.

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My family and I were heading to a local island for the weekend and decided it was time to take my camera.  It wasn’t easy.  The voices in my head were filled with negative chatter hoping I would listen.  I didn’t.  I took photo’s. It was uncomfortable and had me feeling uneasy but I did it.

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I put my camera away after the weekend away waiting for the mood to strike me again.  Then I read this quote by Julia Cameron; “Being in the mood to write, like being in the mood to make love, is a luxury that isn’t necessary in a long-term relationship. Just as the first caress can lead to a change of heart, the first sentence, however tentative and awkward, can lead to a desire to go just a little further.” I now take my camera with me almost everywhere I go.  Instead of waiting to be in the mood to take photos I now have the ability to shoot the moment I see something that captures my interest.  Funny, I’ve discovered many moments where I am happy I have my camera with me.

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This is my year to dream and to realize my dreams.  There was a time in my life that I quit dreaming.  I honestly cannot tell you why.  I’ve always been a bit envious when I hear people talking about their dreams and then go home to wonder what mine are.  They are tucked so deeply in me I wondered how I could pull them out.

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I was chatting with a friend the other day and she asked me what my goals are for this year.  I shared some things and then shared about my wanting to go back to school.  I mentioned photography and I mentioned a sustainable business program.  She commented how my face lit up when I discussed photography and yet when I mentioned photography to her it was like I had a rock in my stomach.  I realized, then, how much I loved photography and yet how scared I was to pursue it.  Deep down it is the fear of failure, of not being good enough.  The fear consumes me so much that I run away.  I take the easy road instead of challenging myself to pursue it.

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I attended my SGI buddhist meeting on Saturday and we discussed faith and challenging ourselves. I mentioned that I believed in others when they set a goal and accomplished it yet I didn’t have the same faith in me, until recently.  As I looked at this past year I realized how many of the goals I set I accomplished.  It was a difficult year and yet I accomplished so much.  These were personal goals so not something easily seen by others and yet I had a few friends comment on how much I’ve changed.  It was at this moment that I knew I could tackle the most difficult goal, believing in me.  A blog I read recently really inspired me.  It was talking about creativity and taking action.   Life and creativity doesn’t just happen, we must take action.  Take those steps that keep us moving forward.  If we just sit and wait, creativity and life will just pass us by.

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This is my year of tackling my vulnerability by taking action.  I’m going to Choose the Mountain.

~I Choose the Mountain~

The low lands call
I am tempted to answer
They are offering me a free dwelling
Without having to conquer

The massive mountain makes its move
Beckoning me to ascend
A much more difficult path
To get up the slippery bend

I cannot choose both
I have a choice to make
I must be wise
This will determine my fate

I choose, I choose the mountain
With all its stress and strain
Because only by climbing
Can I rise above the plane

I choose the mountain
And I will never stop climbing
I choose the mountain
And I shall forever be ascending

I choose the mountain

howard simon

 

 

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This month we say good bye to our terrific neighbors, Annie and Bill.  We’ve only been neighbors for a few years and have become good friends in that short period of time.  As I reflect on their time here I realize how my children have grown up with them.  Lola wasn’t even a year old when they moved in and now when I look at her and how she’s grown I realize how Annie, Bill and Ava have become a part of our family too.

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I’ve watched them create a beautiful home, start a family and be warm and thoughtful neighbors.  My kids adore them and my youngest has a crush on Bill.  I love to hear Lola scream Bill, Bill, Bill….when she spots Bill outside.  I also love the way she sings Happy Birthday to Bill in the house when she thinks no one is listening to her.  Jordi can go on for, what seems like, hours explaining to Annie and Bill about some new toy he has and they patiently smile and acknowledge him.

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Our neighbors are moving on to Colorado.  It is a very sad time and yet we wish them success and happiness and look forward to when we can visit them.

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Good bye Annie, Bill, Ava and Lars.  We will miss you!

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definition: accomplished aim; resolution; determination; intention; full of meaning; a reason for.

Lplate

i read something recently that talked about “purpose”.  the article asked questions like; “what is the purpose?” ” what is the desired outcome?” “am I being honest with myself?”…. this made me think about my life and my dreams.  it also made me reflect on what holds me back…”fear”.  i’m consumed by my thoughts of fear; fear in pursuing my dreams and fear in accomplishing my goals.  And, at the same time, i recognized if i challenged that fear in me, use it to motivate me, my dreams will come true and probably even greater than I could ever imagine.  as i get older i try to look at fear in a different way.  my old habit is to run away so am trying to form new habits of pushing through this fear and treating it more like a obstacle to push past.

leander

I did that recently when i approached a photographer i’ve admired and asked if he’d be willing to do a one on one workshop.  he said yes.  wow, that was easy.  i was so excited until the day came to meet, my first session with him.  i was struck with fear.  i almost didn’t go.  i started thinking of excuses to cancel this workshop.  my fears manifested in negative thoughts telling me I was wasting his time, I wasn’t good enough etc.. started to flood my head.  i was on the verge of tears.  i had a good friend visiting me and shared with her what was going on.  she was compassionate to my feelings while at the same time pushed me into going by reminding me, with my own words, about why i wanted to do this workshop.   I am so glad she did.  it was GREAT!  my biggest accomplishment that day was just showing up.  what i learned that day was immeasurable.  it was just what i needed to hear the and timing couldn’t have been better.  what is also interesting is the information i learned in that class not only taught me a lot about myself as a photographer, but about myself in general.  it was quite enlightening.  it is amazing how this was a much bigger life lesson than i had imagined or anticipated.

Lmirror

 

at the end of class i was given an assignment.   i felt fear sweep through my body.  i knew this assignment would be challenging for me.  i was encouraged to do a bit of street photography and to get up and close with the subjects.  get into the scene.  i chose a street scene and a social gathering in which to do this assignment. i actually thought the social gathering would be a bit easier because i knew the people.  both proved to be quite challenging.  i not only felt the fear but also felt so emotional as if i could cry at any moment.  i not only had to deal with fear in doing the assignment but also felt my creative drive had somehow disappeared.  it was as if my creative side had been drained from my body.  i had no idea what to do.  again, the negative emotions flooded my body and it was all i could do to not burst into tears.  what were these fears?  most were the fear of failure and feeling inadequate.  again, i wanted to give up.   once again,  i found myself trying to push aside the fear and to just do the assignment.  it was not great work and yet I learned a lot from it.  it was great to discuss this at my second workshop session.  i knew my work wasn’t great but hearing the feedback had me understanding why, encouragement on ways to improve on it and had me reflecting on how I felt during these assignments so that i, personally, know what i can do to improve them.  it will take some time and i will be out once again pushing through my fears because i know this is the road i must travel.

Lwindow

so, as i look back at “purpose” i am reminded that my fears are my NOT being honest with myself and that in order to achieve my desired outcome i must not listen to the fears and let them hold me back and instead focus on the outcome.  by doing so i will find my “purpose”.

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i often wonder how share a piece of my life with a dear friend I’ve yet to me.  I’ve spoken about my friend here and here.  as i’ve mentioned on more than one occasion we are friends and we’ve never met.  we’ve written to each other, emailed each other, sent cards and gifts.  i thought a letter on my blog would be a bit of fun too.

dear km,

today started out like any typical day in my home.  my dog, gracie, sleeps on the sofa while staring out the window.  she’s 12 and has arthritis in her rear legs which makes moving around painful.  if she isn’t following the kids or me around the house in hopes for food or attention she lies on the sofa staring out into the street and observes the going ons.  she knows the routine of neighbors and when something is not part of the daily routine she barks and if something is really odd, she barks a bit more aggressively.  if she sees someone she knows she may still bark but you will see her stubby tail wag.

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this morning was bath time.  the kids still like to take a bath together yet there is often a lot of laughter followed by screaming and crying.  one moment it is all fun and games and the next it is hitting and dumping water over each other.  today was a bit more emotional.  they just couldn’t figure out how to play well together so bath time ended early.

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today i planned on taking a brief excursion to vashon island while the kids hung out with their dad.  Ms. L decided she wanted to spend time with me instead so off we went on our adventure.  she was just so excited to spend time with just me.  no dad, no brother.  everything was just so exciting to her.

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i think most kids would be bored waiting for the ferry but not L.  she enjoyed getting out of the car and looking at the water.  once on the ferry she lead me all around the boat pulling me from one side of the boat to the other.  everything was interesting, everything was fun.

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once off the boat we drove the 5-6 miles to a small little town just south of the town of Vashon.  it was a quant little spot with nothing more than a coffee roaster, coffee museum and a general store.  all were connected.

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we spent the longest time hanging out in and out of the store. outside she played in front of the store walking up and down the porch, inside she shopped for the treats she wanted to munch on while we explored.

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i wasn’t prepared for the length of time it took us just to get to the island so our time on the island wasn’t as long as I had hoped so we didn’t get down to the water to explore because it wasn’t long before we had to head back to the ferry for our return trip home.  before heading back we took a little drive to the town of burton where we checked out the water, got out and enjoyed a view of the harbor and then stopped by a curiosity shop before heading back to the ferry.

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funny, i was worried that our trip didn’t provide enough fun for L but she did not complain once.  instead she laughed and kept saying “c’mon mama….” and then would pull me wherever it was she wanted to go.  i realize the trip didn’t have to be a huge adventure for her to have fun, she just wanted to be with me.

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i’ve read a lot lately about mindfulness and today I practiced being in the moment with L and what a beautiful moment it was.

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all my best dear friend…

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jc07

as a new year approaches we spend time reflecting on the year past and with hope the next year will be better than the last.  for me, 2012 was a year of change.  change that brought excitement in my life, change that brought sorrow.  I don’t look back on 2012 with regrets, instead I remember the joy,cry through the pain and look forward to the many new changes 2013 will bring.

jc06

satya is the word of the month at my yoga studio, the samarya center.  translated the word means “truthfulness” or “to be”.  as we discuss this word at the beginning of each class i understand it to mean finding truth in the moment.

jc03

often i find that we live in our minds and when we do that we are not living truthfully.  our minds fill us with judgements and storytellling that come from our own life condition.  if we are feeling happy our mind is filled with happy stories and if we are feeling upset or sad our mind is coming from that feeling.  either way those thoughts may not be coming from truth.  truth is found in the moment, the “what is” or that feeling of “to be”.  what is going on around me right at that very moment.  i believe that is satya.

jc8

so right now i am working on satya. as the new year has come to end so has some things in my life.  instead of letting my mind create fictional stories about these endings, i am working on truthfulness and being in the moment.  having appreciation and gratitude for 2012 is how I am moving on into 2013.

jc9

leaving you with words that inspired me recently.  Happy New Year!

May you not spend too much time wondering why things had to end.  If you must wonder at all, please wonder about what awesome delight will come to fill this now empty space.  ~Karen Salmansohn

jc6

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This poem resonates so deeply with me.  Enjoy

 

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LOVE AFTER LOVE

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott
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DSC_6693life has me on a roller coaster ride and it’s a bit crazy.  actually, i have created this roller coaster ride by making significant changes in my life in order to help me find “me”.  as someone said to me yesterday “you are already here, you just need to see that”.  I am trying to soak up what that actually means.  i realize that my happiness in life has always been dependent on an outside source or person and i want to change that.  happiness begins and ends with me.  i want to teach this to my kids now so they will have a strong sense of self and happiness as they get older.

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one of my biggest challenges is my photography and this blog.  i am at a loss when it comes to taking photos and when it comes to writing a blog post.  i don’t just pick up my camera and shoot, i do so with intent and it is that intent that i’ve seemed to have lost.  same goes with my writing.  when i sit down to make a blog entry i usually have something on my mind that i want to say.  i’m in a rut…i can’t seem to find my intent, my words…my story.  i look at these photos and see that i’ve lost it.  so, i took the photos as a way to break through this barrier i am feeling and i am writing this blog post to do the same.  i can sit back and feel defeated or i can push through it and may just find that something new will come out of this.  who knows what may lie on the other side.

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what a wonderful feeling it is to grab the post only to find a special treat inside.  that is what happened to me today.  i saw a package in the post and assumed it was from my mom to my kids (i’ve been expecting a package from her) and to my surprise i noticed the ‘royal mail’ stamp on the package.  i knew, at that moment,  it was for me.

although we correspond on a regular basis, i still have yet to meet my dear friend from london.  as i opened up the package i smiled….. it seems so odd that someone i have not yet met can know me so well.  the card she sent had a beautiful photo of hers on the front, what a wonderful treasure.  the book is an incredible photo book on the life work of nan goldin (i recently admired her work at the elles; pompidou exhibit). i am not only sincerely touched by this beautiful gift but am also touched by the fact that she knew me so well in the choice of book she sent.  it was obvious she knows me well.

thank you my friend, this means the world to me.

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