Wednesday, August 20, 2014

30 Sales

Original Photo 
Post Processed

Today I'm celebrating 30 sales at my Etsy Shop. Maybe for some 30 sales in 30 months wouldn't seem like a very big deal... an average of one sale a month, and about $20 a month in revenue. But for this budding wannabe artist, who was shaking in her boots, embarrassed even at the very idea of putting herself and her work out there, whose mind kept up the who-does-she-think-she-is litany, and for whom it took almost a year to put up her first images after creating her shop, this is a very sweet deal

Truly, the fact that there are people out there who like my art enough to pay money for it and hang it on their walls is nothing if not frosting on the cake.  I look back at my creative journey, which grew out of the most painful and dark time of my life... fertilized in the primordial life-changing soup, the creative impetus at times all there was that got me out of bed, that called me to put one foot in  front of the other, that gave my mind sweet, desperately needed relief, that forced me by its very nature to see the beauty around me, that encouraged me  to buy my first decent camera since my Canon AE-1 Program film, my first digital SLR, Nikon this time before I left for three months on Moloka'i; that saved my life when I was so isolated in Sonora... And then, somehow, by some wonderful bit of grace, the photography as art in a whole different way - namely digital post processing AND throwing out all the "rules" and doing my own thing - arriving at my door; then the sweet, sweet frustration and finally the miracle of mastering the simplest of Photoshop programs, learning how to layer and adjust and texturize... then finally, finally, when I got one day to just photograph what I love, and my personal creative style was born. 

I love my art... and first and foremost, I create because there is a deep burning desire to do so. My sister tells me that when she looks at my shop online, what she feels when she sees my images is a sense of peace.  One friend has seven, seven of my photos now in her bedroom, another just bought three for her meditation space. Wow. Such high praise, all of it. I love having the shop because it gives me a wonderful outlet for the work. But mostly, mostly what I'm grateful for, even overwhelmed at times by, is that something so beautiful, and so sustaining was born from the darkest of nights, was planted, nurtured, and sprang to life from the bleakest of abysses. And not just my art, of course, but my whole life... where I sit now, my home, my journey, my favorite friend/sister on the spiritual path, the sweetest cat companion ever, my relative peace of mind... none of it, not one piece of it can be seen as arriving separately from those most challenging of years. 

The photo above was taken at Make (Maw-kay) Horse Beach, one of my favorite destinations on Moloka'i, beautiful, most always deserted, and where the final (love) scene from Pirates of the Caribbean III was filmed. 

And p.s., I think the original photo is pretty exquisite in itself... the way the big, beautifully colored surf rolls so gracefully in and spreads like yards of beautiful lace on the sand... I could go for either one, but I do so love the deep painterly mood in the after photo. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I love trees. Especially oak, redwood, birch, and this amazing stand of I-don't-know-what-kind-they-are trees in Golden Gardens Park in Seattle. It bothers me that I don't know what these trees are, their name, and I just spent half an hour on the internet trying to find out. So okay, I don't know their name but here's what I do know: Every time I went to visit my daughter during the two years she lived near Seattle I headed west, across Lake Washington, all the way across the bustling city to Puget Sound, and this lovely park, and once there stood mesmerized by them, just right there, growing up out of the sandy beach, next to the water. Tall, commanding, beautiful. In every season I saw them, bare, just leafing, in full leaf, in their fall outfits. If I were to visit Seattle today, the first thing I would do would be to get to this park and partake of these trees. It matters not that I don't know their actual name... to me what they are is glorious, magical, sacred even, and they move something in me.

I read recently that when we name things, we take something away from our experience of them. No, not just something, we actually alter our direct experience; when we name things, we no longer see them innocently, or as the miracle that they are, or their very essence. We miss the marvel of birds actually flying, the wonder of waves curling in on themselves as they meet land, how silent and invisible wind is, the phenomenon of a cat's purr, what we feel when we gaze into the eyes of another...

Once I sat with a spiritual teacher who said to me, "Without all of your labels, who are you?" My mind went completely blank. Who was I, he was asking, without all of my names, who was I beyond Debby, woman, wife (well back then anyway), mom, daughter, friend, sister, teacher, seeker, writer, volunteer, wounded, confused, and insecure one? I was silent for what felt like an eternity, my mind totally befuddled, and then told him simply that I had absolutely no idea...  To which he smiled.

This morning I hugged a tree. That's what I set out to write about before I got sidetracked. I wanted to write about what a strange experience it was; how it felt at once completely awkward and yet amazingly natural and wonderful. How intimate it was; how afraid I was that someone would see me. How relaxed I became when I felt our warm bodies touch, how it felt like home, that tears welled up.

Sometimes when I walk in the mornings, I just call everything god (you'd have to know me well to know what an incredible thing this is...). But as Shakespeare's Juliet said,

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

Exactly. And while I still don't know who I am apart from my names, any more than I know who/what that beautiful, wild, gnarled oak tree was that I hugged this morning, the years between then and now have brought some clarity, some parting of the veils, some new experiencing of what/who it is that actually lives here in this body... and oh my goodness, holy shit! whatever that is, it's exactly the same that lives in the tree, the bird, the dolphin, my cat, every person; in the air, the sun sparkling off the ocean, the night stars, every part of life, pre-name, pre-language, that thing, that whatever it is (NO NAME!) that animates, that gives life, that lights up, that IS.