gently held

gently hold  

when i feel fragile, i remember that i am gently held in this world by so many.  our collective experiences are vastly different and yet so very similar at the core of it all.

and today a friend posted some snow tulips and i remembered photos i had done of tulips in the snow once and so i went looking for them.  7 years ago.  how can it have been so long ago and then i realize that it has been years since i have intentionally taken photos with my very expensive paper weights of cameras and lenses.  okay, that is not entirely true, i have recently started taken photos again for self portrait compositing but it is slow going.  a weekend here, an hour there.  as i looked back at all the photos i used to take, my mouth sort of dropped open.  and then i remember that i used to carry one or two or three cameras with me everywhere and the thought of doing that again feels exhausting and not where i want to be right now.

we change and we grow and we stagnate and we lose ourselves and we find ourselves and our passions burn hot and we burn out and rest and our passions change and alter and my life feels like the same old same old until i look back at where i have been.

recently, i have been feeling a little lost, like i exited a path that i knew and now i am lost in the vines and brambles of a pathless forest.  i can see the moon changes and i can feel the sun on my face and i know north from south and east from west but i don't know where i am going and which direction i should take next.

and i guess that is okay because eventually i will get somewhere and actually right here is not so bad anyway, so maybe i will take a rest and wait for the tulips or the next snowfall.

beginnings

morning snow ii  

as the world around me hovers in a state of crisp death, the sleep of the frozen, the fading light that sinks deeper and deeper into itself, i am reminded that this is the month that i was born into.  this is the time that i came to live, came alive. and there is a cycle of reminder in that.  and i remember birthday parties in the middle of the dense trees surrounding a long stream of frozen ponds and skating parties with warm fires to warm frozen toes and thermoses filled with the chocolate aroma of a thick steamed drink.

my birthday this year is on the new moon.  and that feels special.  and i will be spending the evening with myself (well and ty dog), with some rituals, with a lot of burning blazing candles and i have made some decisions about the way forward, about myself.  the past year has felt momentous and the work that i have done pushing myself to limits that i didn't know was possible for me.  well really, the past few years have felt that way.  i have put in a lot of beautiful but hard work into my life and into sorting out all the cobwebby foggy corners that had been neglected for far too long.  and over the years, things have shifted in huge ways and i feel like i own my life again after the way lay of grief and depression which found me laying dead in the ashes.  but i wasn't dead, i was just sleeping and in that sleep, i was also growing.  and then i had to claw my way up out of it and it looked nothing like i thought it would.  it looked nothing like what i thought i wanted.  but damn it is really good.  mostly.

i have made peace with decisions, peace with the shit, peace with my dark demons, peace with my light ways.  all of it.  i feel like it all burned down years and years ago and i attempted to build it back up without taking the time to rise myself up.  the past few years, as i have been dealing with the consequences of that, i suddenly found myself a new person.  life happens and we don't always see ourselves in it.  the new self that emerges.  the unknown self.

i am going to be exploring this unknown self, this new face in the mirror.  the shedding is complete.  i am coming alive.  and what a life i have built to come alive in.  it didn't look like much when i was in the clearing because i was so focused on righting the pieces one at a time and it wasn't something that happened in a day, a week, a month.  i am talking a good year-ish for each new clearing in the various areas that had been previously neglected.  i don't mean to be vague, it is just all so personal you know, the job/career - finances - discipline - accepting and falling in love with what i have, where i am now in this life of lifetimes.  all the stuff, the daily routines, the ways of living.  i wiped off the lipstick and the magic and dealt in the realities and sort of discovered that reality is the real magic.

i put aside the output of creativity that had been my life for so long.  i stuck it in a trunk and let it grow dusty while i focused on what needed to be focused on.  it sounds awful but really truly, it makes me smile because i needed to do that.  i recently had my palms mapped (which was freaking amazing by the way, i am still processing how amazing) , and i am paraphrasing out of context so bear with me, that my self-reflection has been in service of art, and not the other way around.  i do not use art to understand myself but my self-reflection feeds my art.  it was a truth that hit me hard, a truth that i see in myself.  its funny because for years after my twins died, i think i tried to use my art as a way to self reflect, to figure things out.  and it so didn't work.  not at all.  it made things worse.  it wasn't until i put my art away and focused on other things, that i truly started to heal and my intense triathlon training brought me back to starting to find myself, all those hours and hours upon hours of solitary physical work helped me to learn myself again.

and now.  on the eve of my birthday, my head is filled with expansion and i have bit by bit started dusting off the trunk that sealed in my art.  i told some friends recently that my training has, along with all the other things, become fully integrated into my life.  it just is.  and all the pieces are.  my life is full and bright and feels easy in that way that focus and hard work, living in integrity feels.  within that i have a lot of time on my hands.  i am ready.  to create again.  and i have learned focus and my truths. and i have no fear.  and i have some very focused and intense ideas.  and this feels like the best place to start. again.  differently.

and so within the cold dead of winter.  i begin.  and i will share as i go because art is meant to be shared.  it just is.

 

 

 

building a life

Untitled  

The echinacea bloomed early this year and now they form a massive thick stemmed fence on one side of my patio which reminds me that I need to separate them and move at least a quarter, if not a half, of them to another area.  My garden was interesting this year, seedlings sprouting in different parts of the garden, some mint here, and dill over there and so many cranesbill geraniums popping up all over the place and the daisy's seem to have taken over even as the elephant ears attempt to become their own hedge.  It is an adventure every year and one that I love.

 

Untitled

 

I am amazed at how many loving habits I can add to my life over time.  It starts off as an all consuming obsession that eventually becomes a normal part of my daily routine.  The garden was like that, it was a huge undertaking as these things are, a new to us historical house and a yard that had suffered from decades of neglect and a thumb that waggled black or so I thought.  It consumed me, the digging, the placement of brick and wood and planning and planting and tasting and replanning and more planting and as the years went by, it became more about maintenance, a few days here and there taken over by planting and weeding and gathering the bounty but otherwise, a normal routine of a bit here and there and the soft quiet watering of the evening.

Then there was our rescue dog ty, a year of being consumed with healing him, learning, training, classes and oh so much love lavished on his existence.  And now, he just is, a member of our family, a set routine of feeding and snacking and walking, a habit that feels like normal, not a chore, just a regular part of our days along with evening cuddles and snuggles and goofy play.

Triathlon training and working out has become much the same.  At first it was an obsessive amount of reading and studying and trying out new pools and gyms and running paths and researching how to and what for and what not and hours spent discussing training and best ways and the exhaustion of getting back into shape.  And now, it has already become just a thing that I do, a part of my days, a routine, a habit that spreads to other things that contribute to the wall of healthy muscle that has become my way of being.

It all starts with the little tiny seedlings that are spread so thin, you wonder how they will ever become a solid thing.  That first year, the echinacea were a splattering of straggly things, rare purple cones of flowers that I didn't dare cut for fear my garden would be even more ragged and when I stopped noticing, they became something else, a wall of colour, a force to be reckoned with, a solid strong being.

And I keep adding little things and those little things grow into big beautiful forces of their own and my life becomes fuller and richer and that good kind of busy that feels like I am truly living it.

and i wonder.  what i will add next.  or what will find me.  or whether this is it, this life i have build from tiny seedlings born out of the quiet walk of listening to my inner self.

beautiful bruised sky

bruised sky  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

yesterday it was snowing snowing snowing and so i donned my skipants, my long feather puffy grandma coat, a scarf and a toque and sheepskin lined boots and went for a walk into the frosty air because the cold and snow gives me cabin fever and i thought a walk would do me good.

i pulled out my phone in the alley to snap a photo when this black truck came down and stopped beside me.  in the truck sat a man with a bruised and stitched up face. he introduced himself. we shook hands. he told me he fell off the roof. i imagine he was clearing the snow because we have had a lot of it. he said the red berries against the white sky that i was capturing were beautiful and that life was beautiful.

then his broken face broke into the biggest grin and he said he got engaged over christmas. to a cree woman. she has 7 kids and he has 3. 10 kids between them. he said that is the beauty of life. then he wished me merry christmas and happy new year and said, keep capturing beauty, that is what life is about. and off he went.

a shining face bruised and splintered in the white endless drifts of snow.

and i was grateful for the short walk through the white snow, bruised red berries against a white sky.

morning light

morning light

 

I wrote this whole post to go along with this photo.  and then I hit publish.  And then it was gone.  Just like that.  And I have no idea why but I was writing about those perfect moments and there was a line which I really liked and I cannot seem to pull it back out of my brain.  Something about the way the light caught in my throat but that wasn't it, not at all.  It might drive me crazy because it was a pretty sentence and I couldn't help but admire it for a moment but not long enough to capture anything about it but the emotion, not long enough to capture it within the hazy maze of my memory.

And now, I am too tired to try and recreate the sentences that flowed out of me like water drifting over a rain gutter during a fresh summer storm.  And I suppose it means, I shouldn't write about the fleetingness of perfection, of light and of how tending my garden teaches me about me.  Or maybe it means that I shouldn't grow attached to those moments but just appreciate them for what they are much like I shouldn't grow attached to the words that drain from me and I should let them find their own way, soaked into the soil's fertile moistness, seeds for something else, a different kind of beauty.  A beauty that rises up to meet the late august sun as I fumble around, sleepy eyed, rushing off to start a day but stopping briefly to capture a beauty that causes my soul to gasp in wonder.

moving out of stasis

004 copy  

(polaroid colorpack III / fuji film)

I have been through enough change in my life, big altering irreversible change to understand the cycles .. the highs, the lows, the periods of stasis.  I have been in stasis for a long long while now and even as I write those words, I know that they are not entirely true.  So let's re-word that shall we.

sta·sis

Noun

  1. A period or state of inactivity or equilibrium.
  2. A stoppage of flow of a body fluid

Synonyms

standstill

I have been in a period or state of inactivity when it comes to my art and by my art, I mean my photography and writing, my creative pursuits.  It was a necessary stasis as I needed to focus on my career and the changes happening in my home with a son that grew up on me and headed out into his life (though i am happy to say that he remains close) and then the empty nest acquisition of a beautiful boxer dog.  I needed to focus on home and work and the cultivation of my life, my health both mental and physical.  And I did and it has served me so well.  My life is ticking along quite beautifully actually with the normal ups and downs that come from truly living.

But lately, I have been reading the signs and noticing the void inside of me and more importantly, noticing that the void no longer felt like a friend.  I have been craving projects and creative work and I have been developing a new project which shhhhhh only a few people know about and I am keeping it a little under wraps as it peculates but things are coming together and plans are being made and while I am not ready to share it in detail just yet, I will say that I am going to make a little or not so little documentary and the subject and people who will be involved thrills me to no end.

While there are lots of behind the scenes work going on over here, I am happy to share that doing this, birthing this takes me back to my roots of working with video production.   So there is that.  And I am slowly immersing myself back into learning the workings of my camera and techniques and in the process have even started taking photographs again, slowly unwinding myself from the language of quiet reflection.

As I awaken, I realize that I have changed and my creative work and vision is changing along with it and so of course, I am craving a newly designed online space to accommodate this emergence.  So, I have been busy building a portfolio site under my name, Darlene Kreutzer which is slated to go live on July 1, 2013 which pretty much coincides with my 10 year blogging birthday.  I am keeping my personal blog here though various photography and writing projects will be migrated over to there.  And since, my personal blog which I hope to continue writing and sharing bits of my life, process, world will remain here, I am feeling the need for a major redesign.  I am building something that will allow me to send quotes from my phone, photographs from my phone and assorted bits of random video while still writing articles and lists and bits of poetry and thoughts.  I want the design to be fun and to accommodate multiple posts a day in a variety of mediums.

So, the site might be down for a bit or it might be live but messy as I tweak and change and modify.  But change is good.  This all feels good to me and sort of exciting because it has been a long time since I have even wanted to come here.

waking up from slumber

Untitled (polaroid spectra / expired polaroid image softtone film)

the light lingers and while the tulips still sleep under the many feet of snow that cover my yard and garden, they live in the grocery store aisles and that is as much encouragement that i need to know that spring is here.  and the light lingers longer and longer.  at 8:00 pm tonight the sunset begins, well technically at 7:59 but i am not one to split seconds.  the light is energy giving and shakes off the dust of sleep that finds me pulled inwards during the long dark winter months.  we had a crazy assed snow storm on thursday, one that caused a 100 car collision on the highway just south of my city and more accidents all over the place.  so much snow.  shiver me cold.  but i am hoping that was winter's last grip on us and i am hoping that the snow will all have melted by the middle of april.  hoping hoping hoping.  i don't even mind the brown month that looks like the world was dipped in gold when the sun hits it just right.  the long brown before the green explosion.  i am ready for the brown.  bring it universe.

i have been on this path of solitude for what feels like forever now.  the pulling away from social media, groups, travel and much to my dismay, the pulling away from creative endeavors.  i mean i have done a few things here and there, things that felt like home to me.  i was a contributor for Amulet Magazine and i was honoured to be mentioned in an article about collaboration in mortal muses for 'polaroid girls'.  but honestly, most weeks i take one photo, one polaroid for my contribution to polaroid girls and then possibly a photo for 'the four' collaboration but more often than not, i pull from my archives.  i have been writing very sporadically and not really focusing on it in any structured way, not even journaling on a regular basis never mind the neglect of this blog that is going to turn 10 years old this july.  i think after the frenzy of creative activity that went on for the past decade, i needed a break.  i needed time to reconnect with myself, to breath.  i have been over here doing a lot of breathing and engaging in my immediate world without feeling the need to translate it, to create something else from it.  this year has been a good long rejuvenating much needed sleep.

i feel refreshed.

and i can feel the seeds that i unknowingly planted deep within.  and i feel a fire of activity burning deep in my gut.  i have some plans, i am inspired.  i have no idea how it will all manifest itself but for the first time in a long time i am excited about the process of creating again even as i realize that in my year of solitude i was creating.  i was creating a functional and beautiful space to work in, weeding through and reorganizing and decorating my living space.  i was creating a flourishing garden, a place to find beauty and solace.  i was creating space for freedom by working on applying my hard earned money to the debt that had been pushing down on my shoulders.  i was creating myself as a happy worker bee and for the first time in a good 10 years, i find myself loving my job and i feel a confidence around it that i have never known, a confidence in me and it has paid off both in monetary ways and in spiritual feeding ways.  this past year was filled with so much change but it has all been good.  the weeding out of what wasn't working for me so that i could put my attention to the areas that needed my attention.  and in that process.  i found myself again.  i came home to me.

this. is. the. best. possible. place. to start again.  to start from right here.  to allow my inner artist to spread outwards again.  and i am damn excited about that.  and spring.  the timing couldn't be more perfect.

peace.

 

 

the long winter

soft breath  

i miss the soft breath that comes and goes when i embrace the world around me and capture it in a photo like the one above.  but in all honesty, i am not feeling it right now.  it is grey and the wind is a bitter north pill that is difficult to swallow.  the world is stacks of old ice and snow and the trees are brown, mirroring the dull brown of dead leaves peeking up from the corners.

for the past few years, i have traveled in march.  traveled to places on the planet where march is filled with the scent of pink blossoms and the earth is covered in green scents.  i remember two years ago, crying on the BART in San Francisco as i emerged from the tunnel and saw the green leaves, the green grass and as soon as i was on it, i fell to the ground and breathed it into me, let myself get drunk on green lushness.

this year, i am not traveling anywhere and so i am forced to wait until may's explosion of life.  i have to tell you, it feels a hell of a long ways off.  i comfort myself with the fact that in just over a month, the snow should mostly be melted save for a few shady spots which allow the lingering of ice.

and then,

a friend recently reminded me of this,

"The Winter of Listening"

No one but me by the fire, my hands burning red in the palms while the night wind carries everything away outside.

All this petty worry while the great cloak of the sky grows dark and intense round every living thing.

What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.

What we strive for in perfection is not what turns us into the lit angel we desire,

what disturbs and then nourishes has everything we need.

What we hate in ourselves is what we cannot know in ourselves but what is true to the pattern does not need to be explained.

Inside everyone is a great shout of joy waiting to be born.

Even with the summer so far off I feel it grown in me now and ready to arrive in the world.

All those years listening to those who had nothing to say.

All those years forgetting how everything has its own voice to make itself heard.

All those years forgetting how easily you can belong to everything simply by listening.

And the slow difficulty of remembering how everything is born from an opposite and miraculous otherness. Silence and winter has led me to that otherness.

So let this winter of listening be enough for the new life I must call my own.

~ David Whyte ~

and these words are saving me right now.  reminding me of something, reminding me what this year has been for me, it has been a long winter that started in the heat of summer, a long winter of listening.  and it is enough.  more than enough.

and so i belong to the subtle changes of this ice and snow, to the howl of the wind and seed of life buried deep below my feet.  and it has always been and i will not run away to a different place but will stay here in the winter of listening until my new life begins.  again.

star shards

star  

we break and come apart, come undone

remaining stoic and solid through grief and pain and uncertainty thinking that we have it all figured out, knowing that we don't.

and a pretty blue vase that reminds us of sunshine crashes to the floor splintering into hundreds of light reflecting shards is our undoing.  and we cry and flail and rage and it all comes out in a mess as we cut our hands picking up the pieces and the blood mingles with the sunshine,

and we realize that the wishing stars don't just live in the sky, they are all around us flowing outwards and we are reminded of pretty pink dresses that twirl around our little girl legs as we spin dizzily, pain discarded for the pleasure of being in a moment that requires no thought.

and i miss coming here and letting the words fall in that dizzy dance that means nothing and yet somehow adds up to everything, a moment where pain is discarded for the pleasure of being in a moment that requires no thought beyond the click of the keyboard and i remember that words soak up blood and let the sunshine shimmer across healed skin.

"you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you" (ray bradbury)

and these words inked across the frailty of pale skin, danced across the page of a well loved journal remind me again and again that reality lives in the swollen ache of my soul.

a new day, a new year

Untitled (polaroid sun 660 / expired 600 film)

yesterday was a comfy day, lazing about in the sunbeam spaces of home.  i didn't do any of the things i normally do on new year's day like make a list or chart a plan for 2013 and i didn't sketch or indulge in any sort of creative work.  i took the photo above for polaroid girls and i posted it to flickr.  today, i was surprised and pleased to see that my little creative offering made flickr's explore.  it was a reminder that i want to do more self portrait explorations with my cameras and that is how i am letting the year unfold ... following my instincts, creating when i feel like it and listening to the messages that the universe gives me and seeing how they sit with my heart, deciding whether following the messages will enrich my life.  does making explore enrich my life?  not really.  but this self portrait did and does.  i really like it, it represents who i am in this moment, the ease of my life right now and i am having it printed and hung on a wall in my office or maybe even in my living room because it makes me happy.  period.

i also didn't start a cleanse or go to the gym or even juice up anything.  instead i made a roast and a big pot of turkey soup using a couple of the turkey stock jars that i didn't freeze along with the leftover turkey.  i did it all on a whim because i felt like it and the smells made me happy and i froze a couple of the jars for future use, filled up a jar for my son and will enjoy the rest of the soup for the rest of the week.

i am looking forward to snowboarding lessons, kundalini yoga, skating on the tree lined pond and snowshoeing in the river valley.  i am also looking forward to spending some good time in my newly renovated writing studio playing with words and reading poetry.  mostly i am just living, following my twitching nose and staying true to my course.

worlds of words

Untitled The words swallowed whole, gulped down in a fit of desire come out fragmented from lips that no longer understand how to speak the language of a life changing inside of her.

and so she walked

into the hushed beauty of winter's light

and fell

deep

down

into a trance.

And she thought that she might start taking photographs again because her words are drowning across a typewritten page as she half heartedly attempts to find herself in the challenge of nanowrimo and she needs the assault of her senses when she takes to the written page.  She is floating in the freedom of time and she lacks the discipline to create within a void of limitless possibility and the papers fly around masked as bills or statements when really they are birds chirping down the last of the red wine before they fly off to warmer climates.

expanse

Untitled (polaroid spectra / polaroid image softtone)

 i often wonder if i am so attracted to photography because of the ways it brings out the expansiveness of words that line the landscape of my bones, filling in the ridges with their floundering curvatures.  if you were sitting across from me, watching me fumble, words jutting and thrashing about in a clumsy attempt at communication, you would wonder how i ever manage to let them free on the page.  i bite my lip and purse my lips and look up and to the right and back down with furrowed brow.  and then i cross my eyes and say something funny and somewhat self-deprecating and the poetry stays contained, clinging to the familiar crook of my arm.

but then.  in a moment.  in a sigh.  in a release.  i see it all in the curve of the sky, the lonely layer of a story sitting in the distance and emotions flood through me and wash waves against those crackling bones.  and the words flood out of my fingertips in such a rush that i wonder how long they have been holding tight, buried beneath my skin.  waiting for their release.

this spring/summer i want to let my emotions follow the images, printed off and strung out across my writing room walls.  they will whisper in my ears, the stories.  the words.  the picture painted with the sweep of straight black line curves across a blank white screen.  and i will lose myself in the worlds that whisper at me in the night.

waiting words

(canon 5d mark ii / sunshine coast, british columbia)

i left my words hiding underneath the moss covered green of the home of my heart.  and now i am relaxed into my self so fully that i would be giddy if it didn't take up so much energy.  i had a lot of words to use up and i left them in the wet rain dripped air of soft ears and kind eyes and even my journal mocks me from my bag, begging me to open up a crisp fresh page and string lines across blue ink waste.  but those words are playing out somewhere on the sunshine coast, stolen by those pesky fairies who slide up and down seuss like trees on a rain forest path that leads somewhere over crook and craigy dale.

and so i find myself quiet.  even more quieter than usual.  i am watching the fog sink deep over the heart of the city, the river rushing down a swath of melt hugged on either side by thick crusty ice topped with vanilla snow.

and i want to remind myself that doing nothing is in fact the very thing that i need sometimes.  doing nothing is actually a healing balm for my soul.  and the soil will unfreeze and the snow will melt in its own time and green will pour out of the quiet fertile wait.  and words will spring from my fingertips and find themselves on a blank page.  eventually.

nostalgic

(polaroid sun 660 / polaroid 600 film)

I used to walk along this promenade, heavy with child and dreams, stuck in the waiting of all that would be.  And now I am here, 18 years later.  And that is that.  I shot the very last of the last of my expired polaroid 600 film.  And yes, I felt it right there in, a pang and a tear brought on by lack of food and too many walks down the grocery store aisle as I made my way through the softest of sundays.  Mostly, I held the last two polaroids from my very last pack of 600 film in my hands and marvelled at the colours and smiled as I walked past the end of an era and blessed the snow that crunched beneath my feet and the girl walking with the coolest shade of green pants I had ever seen and wondered at how last week it was so mother fucking cold. 

the cold that seeps through the plaster as the windows frost faithful.  that.  motherfucking cold.  and now it is blissfully warm, tones of pink warm, sloshy walk without mittens taped to my forehead warm.  and i remember that for every season there is a change.  nothing stays the same.  ever.  even as nostalgia warms my memories. 

Last night as I was watching Haven and there was a pale blue coleman ice chest that caused my heart to constrict.  My childhood rushing back at me.  Of course, I just texted my parents to see if they still have it and they do and so of course I asked to have it if they ever decide to get rid of it.  I suppose that explains what shooting the last of the 600 polaroid film means to me.  There is so much of this life that I don't understand and so much of what it is to be human that I don't know if I will ever understand but there are memories locked away that hold layers upon layers of emotion that can be unlocked with the smell of Chanel no. 5, a pale blue ice cooler, pine needles found in the cracks of the floorboards, and the way a soft wrinkled cheek feels against baby new lips.

and as polaroid disappears, impossible holds new possiblities and how proud am I of my polaroidgirls collaborator, my dear friend in all things, the lovely Kristen Perman who is showcased in 8 exposures and gives me hope that I am creating new layers of nostalgia as I continue shooting with my polaroid cameras and impossible film.

passionately addicted

puddle art (canon rebel g / some sort of expired film / taken in february 2005)

Hi.  My name is Darlene, you can call me Dar and I have an addictive personality though I like to refer to it as passion. 

I have been looking at old photos like the one above that I took  almost seven SEVEN years ago now.  I remember when I took that photograph and I remember how the camera felt in my hands and how excited I was when I bought it used at a camera store that had an entire section devoted to gently used film cameras and I picked it up for less than a hundred dollars but it felt like a million dollars because I was at a point in my life where I was just getting used to actually having kitchen cupboards full of food.  I carried that camera around with me everywhere.  It never left my side and even though I was shooting film, I took at least a few photos a day and was fascinated by what I found when I looked down. 

I can't remember the last time I carried my camera around with me or when I felt absolute all encompassing passion for the art of photography.  This morning I thought to myself, what if I bring my camera to work with me but then I looked at my Canon 5D Mark II and the 85 f1.2 L series Lens that was attached to its body and I thought do I really want to pack some five thousand dollars worth of heavy gear with me in my already stuffed bag of necessaties crappola to work with me.  And it was dark out and I still needed to brush my teeth and I was running a good 10 minutes behind myself which is par for the course on any given weekday morning.  And so I didn't.  But what is interesting to me is that I thought about it.  What is interesting to me is that I felt a longing towards it that wasn't nostalgic so much as a spark of something.

So as I let these thoughts and others roll around in my head, I wonder if there is a correlation between this spark of something that I can't yet define and the deactivation of facebook that occurred earlier this week.

When I deactivated facebook the following emotions occurred in quick succession over the past couple of days,

  1. panic.  instant and uncontrollable panic.
  2. space.  a large empty space felt like it opened up inside of me and the prairie wind sang through me.
  3. loneliness.  i felt a sense of isolation.  loss.
  4. i found myself grabbing for my phone and then looking down at it in confusion because there was nothing to see here.
  5. time.  suddenly i had all this time and nothing to fill it with.  this sort of reminded me of that time a good 7 years ago now when i quit smoking.  i was sitting in a beautiful little restaurant with a friend a few months after quitting and after we finished eating, i picked up my camera and started randomly shooting and she very astutely pointed out that i seemed to have replaced my smoking habit with a camera habit.  hello addictive passionate personality.
  6. crankiness.  i found myself edgy and plagued with a strange discontent.
  7. peace.  i arrived at peace at a pretty fast pace, much faster than the discardation of other addictions i have carried with me.  this tells me that facebook and social media (i also stayed away from twitter and instagram and pretty much all else except for my blog which isn't really a social place so much as a personal space) have far less power than i like to think they do. 

So where does that leave me currently?  Well.  I feel pretty darn good actually.  I am spending a lot more time with my thoughts without the need to filter out what it is I am thinking and wondering whether those are really my thoughts or whether they are influenced by something else.  The thing is, we are all influenced by what we see, witness, view, hear, feel, read but we also need time to sit with the input, to think about it and to relate it to ourselves and our worlds and generally this takes some time.  For example, when I travel to some place new and take in different sights, sounds, experiences there is space needed to fully realize how I have changed and how those changes integrate with my life.  Re-entry can be a bitch.  When I realized how often I was reaching mindlessly for my phone, I realized that I haven't truly been giving myself time and space to sit with the changes that happen just from living and learning and bringing in new information.  I read books and articles and I meet new people and have discussions and I go out and listen to music and watch movies and go to festivals and art galleries and gain new experiences at work and with my family and my friends and well, I live a pretty full life even without what goes on online.  But instead of giving myself time to process all the normal everyday new experiences, the new information that enters me, I have spent all the space in between reading the incredibly fast moving rolling thoughts of four hundred and some other people and all the emotion and energy of that enters me and consumes me on top of my life. 

layers and layers of consumption with no time to process, organize or even breathe.  there is no space to experience boredom.  i sort of love boredom, that initial feeling of anxiety as our eyes dart around looking for something and then in a breath the daydream starts with the way the light dances over the edges of the sky and our thoughts wander to ancient places and some of my best ideas have formed in the space between boredom and imagination.

I have noticed that in recent years, I have been madly spending my time engaged in consumption.  The consumption of money.  The consumption of time.  Consume Consume Consume.  And at the end of the day, it leaves me feeling pretty empty.  I am bone weary tired of feeling empty.  I was happy in November.  Really happy.  In November I wasn't consuming so much as producing, doing, creating, writing a novel in a month.  It sounds crazy but I was so content living in that space within myself, within my life.

I have an addictive personality that I like to call passion.  Passion has served me well in my life but I have to be careful, I need boundaries and I need to focus on what is healthy for me instead of what is unhealthy.  My mother used to like to point out that she worried about the way I walked the line of extremes never seeming to find the middle ground and I think she was right to worry because I have found myself in many situations over the course of my life where blind luck was the only thing that has me alive and breathing today.  I put off deactivating facebook for a long time because I would tell myself that facebook is a choice and I don't have to go there but smoking cigarettes was a choice too, I didn't have to light up but I did because I was addicted and I went to facebook because I was addicted.  When I quit smoking, I gave up drinking and I stopped hanging around with my friends who smoked because I knew that I needed to find the strength deep within myself and the only way I could do that was to remove the exposure to temptation until I was strong enough.  It took a while but eventually, I was able to be around my smoking friends and be in situations that would trigger my desire to smoke and I was strong enough to recognize that even if I wanted a cigarette, I didn't have to have one.  Same goes with facebook.  I will likely reactivate it at some point in the next week.  I feel changed already and I know myself, I have kicked many addictions and know that my will is strong once I realize what is happening.  I will reactivate when I am sure that I won't default to facebook when I have space to breathe, to daydream, to watch the light filter.  I will reactivate once I have removed it from my smartphone.  I will reactivate when I know that I may only go on once or twice a week instead of forty times a day.  I will reactivate when I can use it responsibly and I have some good examples of people who use it responsibly because my son and my husband are on facebook but they are usually "facebook huh? Can't remember the last time I logged on".

I feel a spark.  and I smile because I sense that spark is the answer to the ache, the longing and I can't wait to see where it takes me even as I am learning that as important as passion is for my life so too is the space, the lonely space of a prairie field, haunting in its refrain.

where dreams live

So, I went to Paris.  And it was even more beautiful than I imagined it to be. 

I know.  I know.   I write and have been writing for a long time now and have written scripts that were performed on stage and poems that were published and non fiction pieces that I've even been paid for, not to mention all the writing I do at work, the sort of writing that identifies my name as draft.  I have taken writing workshops and heck, there is that english degree and all.  but.  Even within all that context of being a writer, the thought of actually writing a novel has always caused my heart to pound, my hands to shake and it has actually felt like something that I could never do.  I have critically analzed great works of fiction, weeped at words that struck a chord in my heart and read more books than I could stack in my the rooms of my house.  I have to tell you that coming here and proclaiming that I was going to write a fiction book this winter felt like one of the most scary statements I have ever made in public even if to only a handful of people who stop by on there way to somewhere else.

I first told a group of open hearted women last March on the California sands of Pacific Grove that my dream was to write a fiction book.  They didn't laugh or look at me like I had grown two heads.  They actually believed I could do it.  Hmmm.  I wasn't convinced.  I told a few more close friends and they weren't the least bit surprised by my declaration.  It started feeling sort of good to say the words, to let them float out into the air like that.  I mean, its not like I haven't said it a hundred billion times when I was in highschool, when I was drugged out on something in those lost years of losing myself while finding myself, when i was in university but.  but.  the older I got, the farther away this dream seemed and I stopped talking about it, stopped even believing in it.  And then when I found myself on the shores of manzanita in June with a relative group of beautiful strangers who became instant friends, I said it again.  Tentatively.  They didn't think I was crazy either.  Out there in space of open hearts, an expansive sky and a beach that stretched out like a blank canvas teaming with life, I wrote a mission statement.

"meditate in love, surrender to the vastness of the universe and write with all the joy of my being"

And then, I told my boys and they were all yes, of course you are, finally.  And then I wrote out my intention here and a dear friend, said.  Nanowrimo.  And I thought, yes that is the perfect way to do it.  And so I did.

i never realized i possessed this kind of discipline. i have managed to surprise myself. what a gift that feels like.

i have learned so much about myself, where i belong in the world, what it is that truly brings me joy. not the hot flame fire of excitment though there is that but a calmer, sustainable happiness that creates a calm in the deep core of my centre.  writing calms me as much as it excites me.  every single part of my life has benefited by this practice of writing, creating worlds of my imagination, finding my way through the blank page.  i have learned that discipline brings out the muse dance waves in a way i never could have imagined.  and even if most of what i write is dumb and badly formed shit, the gems are spectacular and make me weep. i wish i had known this years ago but i suppose i wasn't ready yet.  i am grateful to be ready now.  i have walked a lot of different paths and i am grateful for each and every one of them because in walking them, i found my way here.  home.

when i wrote the words "the end", i felt like that was the most beautiful beginning.

i have a circle and am forever grateful for the way you teach, the way you cry and dream and hope, for the real and the imaginary and all the words and pieces that you share and the spaces in between where you hold back because that is what you need in that moment.

I honestly don't think I would have gotten to this point of trusting myself enough to try if it hadn't been for you, for the circle that is.

and, i have to say, i am proud of me for this:

where the words live

(lensbaby love)

The path is not always clear and sometimes it is downright impossible to see never mind to follow.  Week 2 of nanowrimo was a bitch in a long white sweater and that bitch wasn't wearing any underwear and the sweater was full of snags.  I was doing okay, it was feeling good.  and then.  Thursday evening I stared down a four day weekend and thought to myself, I could use a break, just one night.  I'll catch up later on Friday.  You can see the writing on the wall can't you?  If I was writing this in my storybook, I would have shouted, nooooooooooooooooooo.  I am so easily deluded.

I watched movies with my boys and baked some bread and felt pretty awesome.  I forgot that I might be sad on Friday because that particular holiday of remembering and honouring is or was my sister's birthday.  I am never prepared for how these things will hit me emotionally.  Sometimes I am fine and sometimes it is a kick right there, in that spot that hurts just like that.  Poke it with a stick.  I even went to one of my favourite coffeeshops, little laptop tucked into my bag and I wrote long poetry that was deeply personal and rewarding in its own way but I didn't make a dent in my words, not one new update.

Saturday morning shone brightly at me and I did that quick calculation knowing that I had to write 5001 words to get caught back up and so I sat in front of the computer. and I wandered facebook.  I hooped.  I surfed the internet for more recipes.  I made scones and maple bacon.  I wandered facebook.  I realized I was running late and needed to shower because I was going out to a proprock event to celebrate world hooping day, think gypsy caravan meets rave meets hooping goddesses meets poi balls meets the circus.  Fun!  I didn't write one solitary word on my nanowrimo novel.  It was a good day for life but a not so good day for writing.  I was, at this point, in full on avoidance mode and I couldn't figure out why, other than I was now needing to write 6668 words on Sunday.  um.  shit.

The thing is, I was sort of liking my book.  The characters are sort of interesting all things considered and the plot was moving along even if I still had no real idea as to how it was all going to work in the end.  I had even talked about it with a few people and they were so enthusiastic and begged to read it when it was finished.  Wow.  That is so amazing to me.  And hold the bus.  SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!  I realized as I lay drooling in a drunken stuper on Saturday night, er Sunday morning, that I was freaked out.  I had actually agreed to let some people read this crazy nanowrimo adventure of a writing shit storm that started with no idea, no outline other than a photo collage and no expectation whatsoever on my part other than to break the cherry on writing a storybook, i.e. a full length novel.  And now I had to make sure it was good.  because.  people were going to read this piece of shit.  um.  I totally set myself up to quit.

So on Sunday, I skipped the write-in at the downtown library even though I had committed to going.  I made more scones.  I cooked some stuff.  I contemplated baking muffins, a cake.  something.  And then I sat myself down in front of a mirror and realized I couldn't look myself in the eye.  I was letting me down in a huge way and I didn't like it.  My word for 2011 has been integrity and it has steered me well.  I wasn't living with integrity on this Sunday afternoon and so made myself a tea and hooked myself up with write or die and got down to it.   I was at 15,144 words when I sat down and when I got up, dizzy and a bit spacy, I was at 21,677.

I am so freaking proud of me.  I didn't give up on myself and I am not going to give up on myself.  Not only that, I really like where the story went to while I was hunkered down writing over six thousand words well into the late evening.  Oh sure, there is some weird spelling and I didn't stop to fix all the grammer and some areas might have some continuity issues because I am running parallel universes in this story.  but overall, I kicked some ass, oh yes I did.  All that said, I have zero expectation.  I am not going to set myself up for more worry and doubt around it.  I am happy to have people read it so long as I can do the big disclaimer around first draft, no clue, write a novel?  huh? what?  I need to rework that whole section dude.  uh huh.  yup.

Starting week three in fine shape, I even made me a roast in my crockpot.  Oh yeah, and there will be writings with some hooping thrown in for good measure.  The path is hazy but I am going to keep traveling down it because I really do want to see how this all ends.

*where the words live?  i really have no clue but love it when they pour through me and land sticky on the page.  oh yes i do.

week 2 begins, nanowrimo update

Apparently, my procrastination techniques know no bounds.  I came home one evening, tired and drained from work, the voices of my characters melding with the voices of my colleagues and I couldn't take it.  I felt like a beige stain of correct writing in a research factual tone and I looked in the mirror and saw a worn out middle aged woman with bags under her eyes staring at me.  I was behind by a good three hundred words, not a big deal in the grande scheme of 50,000 words but the days go quickly and it can all add up pretty fast.  I sat down at my keyboard and the screen swam in front of me and I knew that I just couldn't write from this place. 365-306

So, I grabbed my make-up train case and pulled out my bin of gypsy clothes, the ones that make me feel as though anything is possible, the ones that remind me that I am more than a black blazer and a writer of other people's designs.  I drew myself a new face of fun and I leaned into my camera and snapped until I found myself whole again.  There is fear based procrastination and then there is the procrastination that is all about self care and love.  I would love to show you the other photos that I took that night but they are perhaps a bit too risque for public consumption but they fed my soul.  And after I had scrubbed my face clean, put on purple comfy jammies and grandma slippers and brewed a lovely vanilla tea, I wrote for hours, losing myself in all the different voices of me blooming out of my characters.  It felt good.

On Saturday, I went to a room in the basement of the downtown library, laptop slung over my shoulder and a big bottle of water, some caramel toffees and joined other nanowrimos for a write in because writing is hard and a bit lonely.  It isn't typically a team sport afterall.  

 365-307

I highly recommend the write-in for a few good reasons, you get out of the house and into a different environment which is only a good thing for writing inspiration and you get to meet other people who are clearly as wacko and brilliant as yourself and suddenly you feel much less alone in it all *and yes i did just call myself brilliant and why not, we don't typically give ourselves nearly enough praise afterall*.  Also, the timed writing.  The timed writing cracked my world right open.  It is brilliant.  I can't believe how many words I wrote on Saturday at that write-in and my story actually started really moving, there was action, there was exposition, dialogue even.  I left feeling wholly satisfied and committed to going to as many write-ins as I possibly can.

On Sunday, my procrastination knew no bounds.  My parents were coming to visit in the afternoon so I couldn't go to the write-in that I was fully planning on going to so instead I scrubbed the bathroom; washed all the laundry in the house (mmmm clean sheets); cleaned the kitchen 3 times; swept the house; mopped the floors; baked muffins; went all crock pot crazy and cooked three different dinners for the week; cleaned my desk; dusted the entire house and oh did I mention that my house was actually clean before I started cleaning.   I finally sat down in the early evening (thank you day light savings for giving me an extra hour!!) having written almost nothing, well okay, having written nothing.  I listened to some music, uploaded polaroid girls and dorked around on facebook.  I hooped for a bit.  Dorked around on facebook some more.  And then made some vanilla tea and complained to my husband that I would never get to my goal of 10,500 words at this rate.  And then inspiration hit.  I took the lessons of the write in and set my ipod timer and decided to do 3-15 minute timed writings with 5 minute breaks in between. 

And so I happily tell you that I am starting week two with 11,780 words thereby exceeding my goal.  I am excited to see what week 2 brings as I have heard it can be a challenging week but I am feeling excited, nervous and a bit amazed at how far I have come with it. 

And I am really enjoying how clean my house is and the fact that I seem to have become obsessed with my crockpot.  If you have any tried and true slow cooker/crock pot recipes, I would love to hear them ... November is a long month with much writing to go.  Please help feed my procrastination and my family.

nanowrimo, day 1

(polaroid spectra / polaroid image softtone film)

She stood on the edge of something it was always more complicated than she could imagine so much more simple than she could accept but standing still didn't seem to be an option anymore and breathing was like choking when the moment left you for something else.

I am here, procrastinating of course.  It is my way.  Today was day 1 of nanowrimo.  50,000 words in 30 days.  I did the calculation.  Of course I did.  So, I know that I have to write at least 1667 words a day to finish.  So far, today, I have written exactly 2457 2551 (because i just went and wrote a few sentences, just like that in the middle of this) and here I am wasting words, letting them drip from my fingers click clack knowing that I could be further ahead if I wasn't wasting them here.

I'll tell you a secret but then of course, it will cease being secretive and perhaps that is my hope.  Secrets are only powerful if they remain sneaky and secretive.  I think I read that somewhere.  Recently.  Anyway.  Last night, I still had no idea what I was going to write.  My outline was and remains a collage of photographs that I have pasted up with pretty purple japanese tape above my computer screen and filed away in my head, moving them this way and that.  I started writing today and so far I seem to have two characters that appear to be writing themselves into my non-existant story.  I don't really know who they are but I like them even as they remain somewhat secretive and thereby holding all the power over me.  They are moving rather slowly, pretending to be going somewhere but I am unsure where they are going though they are filled with such delicious possibility that I have sort of fallen in love with them.

Will the nameless one ever actually leave the city that she has imprisoned herself to by choice or so it appears and what really goes on in that bookstore or is the bookstore a red herring.  I just don't know.  And what to do about Jeffrey.  I mean is he even human?  I can't tell at this point.  Hell, I don't even know what kind of story this is yet.  It could be sexy or dangerous or adventurous or magic or mundane or ... well, you get the idea.  I just don't know but eventually I will find out.

I was excited to get here to this place where I am learning to accept the not knowing.  The not knowing is filled with possibility and though I am fearful and know that there will be days when this all seems impossible because there are always those days, those moments when panic rises and you wonder if you can keep breathing but then you somehow find your lungs filled with that new breath of air that finds you before you find it.  I will carry on and find my way through those days, those moments but as a good friend said to me yesterday when I had my little freak out, "you got this".  Yes.  I have this even as I somehow sense that this, this also has me.

I wonder if my blog posts will turn into the blatherings of a raving lunatic as the month progresses.  I can see that happening actually, my days are full and disjointed with work and then I come here to blinking curser, music blasting through me as the dark night spills black ink across my thoughts and I give myself over to the muse that holds me in her damn secretive grip until at last I fall into the dream void of that other world.

shoot like a girl

The night I took this photo was such a good night.  Good friends, laughter, fish tacos and a day spent shooting the streets of LA.  I think it was this lovely day in March that I started remembering why I was passionate about photography in the first place.

I find that I can divide my life into two phases these days, pre-twins and post-twins.  For example, in the pre-twin days, I shot film and lots of it.  I always had at least one, often two or three or even four cameras on me.  Always.  I shot because it made me happy and it wasn't the photos necessarily that made me happy, it was the act of shooting.  It was being out there walking around with my eyes and all my senses wide open to the beauty, to the light, to the world.  In the post-twins days, my shooting excursions became sparodic.  I started shooting for other people, for money and I stopped carrying my cameras around with me.  I purchased bigger, fancier and more expensive gear that felt too cumbersome to deal with.  I shifted away from shooting anything but polaroid and luckily I had a good collection of polaroid cameras to choose from.  Last year, I made the decision that I didn't want to shoot professionally anymore and I tore down my website and ended my business and watched the dust collect on my fancy camera and fancy lens cases.

I understand all the technical stuff and only ever shoot in manual because I like the control it gives me but to be honest, I never THINK about the technical stuff.  I just shoot, straight from my heart.  I follow my breath, the light, the emotion but mostly, I connect to myself because I am starting to understand that when I connect to the earth, to the world around me in that deeply personal way that allows me to relate to it .... I also connect deeper to me and to my stories, deeper to the poetry of my heart.

So, I have been shooting again.  Following my breath and allowing myself to walk the world with all my senses.  I am remembering that my stories, my point of view is important not only for me but for the people around me.

I shoot like a girl,

(photo and beautiful works of necklace art found at bellawish)

i just love her necklaces, especially these ones and wish i had them dangling around my neck.  you know my birthday is coming up in just a couple of months *wink wink ... seriously though, i think all of us who shoot like a girl should be sporting one of these gems, don't you?

UPDATE:  This just in, bellawish will be going on a bit of a vacation/hiatus so she is encouraging you to order before Sunday the 25th as there will be some changes when she reopens. Added bonus, she is offering free shipping so be sure to use FREESHIP when you checkout.