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Entries in self portrait (20)

Thursday
Apr102014

Riff on This: Hide and Seek

All of Cherish Bryck's images are expressive in the extreme, so I knew she would select something evocative for our group of friends to riff on.  Looking at the image above now, it seems playful to me.  When she first sent it, however, I saw someone obscuring herself.  The question of whether there are things I'm not facing is alive for me these days anyway, so it's probably natural that I saw it and ran in that direction.

You might as well answer the door, my child, the truth is furiously knocking.
--Lucille Clifton

 

(To see where my friends went with this, hop on through to Cherish.)

Monday
Mar102014

Riff on This: Spacious

Meghan Davidson presented our little sisterhood with this image as our jumping-off point for this month's riff.  I've been one of the biggest fans of her 365 Impossible Self-Portraits project for the past almost-year, but ohmygod this month's riff made me realize exactly how impossible that project must actually be on a day to day basis.  In addition to having to come up with a different self-portrait idea EVERY SINGLE DAY, she has to contend with the challenges of instant film, one take, very little control over her exposure, no post-processing.  Every.  Single.  Day.

It is inspiring and intimidating and a little bit (a lot?) magic.  When she posted the shot above for us to riff on, I couldn't even get my head around exactly what I was looking at.  I still haven't the foggiest notion of how she did it.  And though I was nervous about taking on any one element (self-portrait, silhouette, double exposure) I finally found myself circling around the idea of what my internal landscape looks like these days.

Here's a hint: it doesn't look like the image below.

But I'd like for it to.

I find myself in a crowded moment, where the to-do lists and the obligations and the to-and-fro join with the multiplying stacks of paper to make me feel... constrained.  I have found myself whispering one word to myself like a little prayer in the past week.

Spacious.

Spacious.

Spacious.

I try to believe that there is enough room in my head, and my heart, and the vast universe for all that my life currently contains.  

I can visualize this on a warm winter day, with the kick and glide of my nordic skis, my breath, hard and rhythmic, and the blistering white of the snow laid out over a Rocky Mountain valley before me.  It erases boundaries and covers the tangled earth in a peaceful and soothing blanket.  That's how I want my interior landscape to look - calm, undulating, expansive.  Spacious.

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To hop on around to see if my other creative muses are less tortured than me swing on by Meghan's blog next.

Monday
May132013

Fluid Dynamics

I came home from the airport to discover a for-sale sign in the neighbors' yard.  They moved in when their first-born and Ezra were both infants and since then we've spent countless summer afternoons on the sidewalk in front of our houses watching them crawl, then toddle, then bike back and forth.  They have a million good reasons to move and I understand them all.  But I still feel short of breath thinking of them going.

This week Ezra and I will walk into the school where he will start Kindergarten for our first family meet-and-greet.  Will and I agonized over whether to move him from the school he's attended since he was 8 months old but determined that he is ready for the challenge of a new environment.  I get weak in the knees when I think of school supplies and new sneakers and the rhythm of the school year.

Whispers in the halls at the office, growing in volume over weeks to a deafening white noise that underlies everything else, about mergers and acqusitions.  We were a smallish business when I started here but no more.  If we have fattened into the kind of tasty morsel that looks irresistible to a deep-pocketed corporate investor, that's a win I suppose, but not without attendant anxiety. 

Suddenly it seems currents of change swirl around me, and I wonder if I can park myself in an eddy and wait it out.  It's strange, because for some time I've felt the tension of a powerful surge growing up behind the dam of my life's predictability.  Feeling it would break and unleash some kind of furious shift in the world as I know it.  Now I suffocate in the unknowing. 

I am deeply unsettled.  I hone to a razor's edge my hardest questions about whether I've made the right choices and hold them to the light.  It's strange that even these predictable things - neighbors move, children grow, businesses do business - trigger shifts that feel seismic.  My wish: to befriend the unknowing, to call in synchronicity, to breathe.

Tuesday
Jan012013

New Year, New Superpower

I was a scrooge on 12-12-12.

That special day, that once in a lifetime, that creative convergence when it seemed like everyone I know had a project going, fell on a day when I was busy being ground into fine dust between the mortar and pestle of work deadlines. I was in a bad mood about not being able to participate in the project that much of my creative community had devoted themselves to that day. I felt sorry for myself, and I grumbled well, it's just numbers. It's not any day that's more special than any other day. I could just pick another day to document.

And I was right, I could.

This week I've been walking in the snow. Last winter we dutifully came to the mountains because we love it here, but it rarely snowed. This winter on December 9 the snow started to fall like it's supposed to and everything is blanketed in a beautiful downy white.  There are igloos to build, snowshoe trails to break, the lightest powder to ski through. The tracks of each day's adventures are covered by the time we emerge in the morning.  

I've also been making lists this week, scraps of reflection on what went right in 2012, what didn't go so well, and what I hope for 2013.  What will I accomplish?  How will I be better?  But in the midst of the lists I hear a small voice in my ear, telling me that this New Year's Day is just one day, and every day is a new day.  Every day brings with it the possibility of renewal.

So this I intend for myself, my superpower of 2013: to make it snow in my head at will. In the moments when I need a fresh start, to camouflage my tracks, to cover the blemishes in my path, may I find the peace within me to bring down a psychic snow that covers everything and gives me a chance to start again, anew, with the understanding that every day is a special day.  Every day is once in a lifetime and every day holds infinite possibilities for growth, love, and creation.

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Happiest of New Years to all of you.  I hope 2013 allows each of you to tap into wells of strength and power within you that you didn't even know you possessed.

Wednesday
Dec122012

Where I've Been

There are days when I look and everything around me seems so fragile.  The dried veins of fallen leaves browning, crackling under my feet.  Everything changing rapidly and not for the easier.  This is the season, it seems, of white knuckling and holding on tight and praying please please please let me get through this one alright.  With any shred of grace, dear Universe, please and thank you please and thank you please and thank you.

Work is consuming in a way that is as predictable as the calendar, and yet here I am wondering how I will make it through and if past success is any guarantee of future performance.  Some of my most sacred relationships seem on the brink of disintegrating like the autumn leaves and I don't know how to stay present to that when running away or lashing out seem more satisfying.  This season of thanksgiving and richness leaves me feeling scared and humbled.

I have been gone from here partly because time has been scarce and partly because I couldn't think of anything nice, or at least well-put, to say.  This is a loss for me, this space sitting dormant, and more broadly the connections I share here and the satisfaction of putting words together in a way that pleases me.  I trust the path to my computer and this place will open again and I will find my way back.

In the meantime I give myself one gift, even though it doesn't always feel like one: I'm back to a picture a day.  I promised myself that I wouldn't put pressure to blog it, so you can find it here if you're so inclined.  In this season of scarce light and attention I try not to get hung up on the questions that plague me, like what do I shoot? and is that good enough? and can't you think of anything besides Ezra to take a picture of?  I hope that when this time of scarcity and transition passes I'll have more space to address these questions.  In the meantime, I shoot, and not always artfully.  But I know that owning this practice will ultimately help me move through this hard part.  If there is to be a shred of grace on the other side of this, I know the practice is what will help me maintain contact.