Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Life Is Messy

This is what happens when I try to create a photo in the "soft and dreamy" style that seems to be all the rage right now. Or, when I'm given an assignment, like I was recently, to create a photo where "less is more." It makes me want to laugh out loud... because for me, in just about every way possible, I've always, and I mean always been a more is more kind of girl.

It's sobering, really. And not so little heartbreaking. Because I've also always been judged, shamed even, for that. I came into this life with big energy. Big passions, longings, feelings, needs; I drive fast, walk heavy, laugh loud, crank up the music, think, feel, and love deeply. There is a huge thirst to live life to the fullest. Growing up it was never okay. And I did my darnedest to change myself; shrink and twist myself into all kinds of shapes and sizes to try to fit in the little box that I thought would bring love and approval. And of course, as all kids do, I internalized the message, and learned to detest the very things, the powerful, and actually pretty awesome things that make me who I am.

And so, as this photo was creating itself (really... we so think we're in charge...!) I began to see it as the symbol it is... We are all made up of layers and layers and layers. As is life. It hits me that this is probably why I've fallen so in love with processing with layers; it is such a beautiful representation of what is. The messier this photo became, the more I fell in love with it, and the more I saw myself in it. Especially the soft inner core, because here's the thing that most people don't know--because I'm afraid to show it and therefore it is most often not seen--that inside this big rough-around-the-edges exterior, lies an exquisitely tender and vulnerable being.

Thank goodness we are not one size fits all. Try as I might (and believe me, I've tried), I cannot create those dreamy images. And that's okay. More than okay, even. In fact, the messier this photo got, the happier I got; the riskier it felt, the more excited I began to feel.

At retreat this weekend with my teacher Isaac, I watched as more and more of the trying to be what I'm not fell away, growing in it's place, a bigger seeing, acceptance, and appreciation for what I am.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Love After Love by Derek Walcott
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.

Sometimes, when the word well is dry, there's nothing to do but find inspiration in other people's creations. This has been one of my favorite poems since the first time I read it years ago. It hits me in the deepest, least visible places, in the land of mystery and tenderness, knowing and soul.

I miss writing. It's been my go-to thing for so long. A way that I express myself that comes pretty naturally. But I realized today - and I can't believe it's taken a while to see this - that what is not happening right now with words is happening with images.  I spend hours each day creating with my images. In short, I am finding, seeing, and expressing myself through my art! Whoa... Not only has this been a dream for so long, but I have known intuitively, have written about it here in fact, that somehow, in some way that I cannot know or understand, a huge part of this dark night journey has been and is about creativity.

My sister said something amazingly wonderful to me the other day. She said that when she looks at my latest photos, they look like me.


And it brought this poem to mind... as I greet myself arriving at my own door... As I get it to stop bemoaning the absence of words and throw out the welcome mat, open my arms, sit and feast... It's almost too much to take in.