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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Good bye Annie, Bill, Ava and Lars. We will miss you!
definition: accomplished aim; resolution; determination; intention; full of meaning; a reason for.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
all my best dear friend…
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.
i saw a facebook status quote from a photographer|artist dana de luca, ‘When you look at my photographs, you are looking at my thoughts’. this made me stop and think. this is similar to the way i feel about my photographs. how i feel, what i am thinking and who i am are often reflected in my photos.
it has been a long time since i’ve posted. there are some significant things happening in my life that have me flooded with emotions; happy, sad, and loneliness. these emotions have me chanting more than ever. although i discovered some months ago that i’ve lost me i didn’t really reflect on that nor did i do anything about it. what did that mean, actually? how would i find me? i also realized i am not happy. although i have suffered with depression, that is not the feeling i am having. the feeling i have is my life is someone else’s, not mine. i live to please others thinking i will find my happiness in doing that and, obviously, was wrong. i also thought i found happiness in someone and immersed myself into that until i realized that i was even more unhappy and gave someone this huge burden by being responsible for my happiness. what would it mean for me to be happy? well i had two pretty incredible friends tell me that i couldn’t find happiness until i found it in myself first. what??? well they were right. until i could be happy being me, doing things for me, and finding myself i wasn’t going to be happy.
a month ago i quit my photography class. the stress of my unhappiness, the friendship i had that went sour and the flood of emotions at home had me overwhelmed and ended up quitting one of the most important things to me, my photography class. photography is usually the place i can escape to and pour my emotions into and instead i walked away. i felt ashamed, depressed and without a place to dump my emotions. that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing at the time because i had to turn inward spiritually and re-discover me. i have been so amazed at what has resulted because of this. i have old friends showing up in my life that i haven’t seen or spoken to in years, i have discovered new friends and i have had the confidence to stand up for myself (still a work in progress). while this has not been easy and there is still a lot of emotion wrapped up in all of “this” it is still exciting and progress is being made.
i picked up my camera today and instead of wrapping myself up in ‘what others might think’ or in over thinking what it is i wanted to take photos of i just captured a bit of my surroundings. no master plan, no agenda, just photos showing representing visual thoughts|feelings of how i am looking at life around me.
I found myself in a vulnerable position this week. I’ve been dealt a life that has me protecting my emotions, my feelings. I am a sensitive person so often wear my thoughts, feelings and emotions on the cuffs of my sleeves but circumstances in life had me toughen that up a bit so in fact I’ve been cold and withdrawn. Recently, I came in contact with something that had me chipping away at this barrier. Not fully breaking it down but enough where I put those emotions, some of them, back out on the cuff of my sleeve. They didn’t have to be there long before they were stomped on and crushed once again and now this time the barrier is stronger and more protective. I’m unsure what it would take for me to trust and open myself up again.
Brene Brown talks about the power of vulnerability here and how it leads to happiness. So, I am going back and listening to this incredibly powerful lecture and hope that I can somehow find my happiness in this.