A Journey | Part I: No Longer Avoiding

There is something I have, since the first post on this blog back in 2007, avoided discussing here.

There are so many reasons, not the least of which is that I really have had no idea where I stand and how to express this part of me.

It is the subject of God. Spirituality, religion, faith… these were once the cornerstones of my existence- the air I breathed.
I have never been able to explain exactly what happened, but I fell out of step with it. I struggled to believe the things I once would have died for. I just didn’t know anymore.

I’m not going to avoid this anymore. One thing I’ve known through every moment, and never doubted, is that God does indeed exist. And one thing I have seen recently that I am simply unable to deny is that He is pursuing me. So I want to take you on this journey with me, here on my blog. I suppose it is my way of opening myself up to God and trying to find my way to something real again. I’m going to break the rule of no politics/religion/other possibly heated topics of discussion. I really don’t believe in that rule anyway. I hope you’ll join me with your thoughts in the comments from time to time.

{I’m aware that at this point some of you are probably rolling your eyes, shaking your heads, thinking I’ve been brainwashed. I assure that I completely understand where you’re coming from, and that my own intellectual mind fights this at times, but I also assure you that there are things that are quite real that cannot be fully understood nor seen. One of my biggest struggles has been to separate who God actually is from what the world sees from Christianity as a whole- and I am confident that the two do not completely align- that in fact they are often as different as night and day. I’ll do my best to avoid all annoying cliches and infuriating hypocrisy.}

I want to share a little of where I’m coming from, and what my path has looked like up to this point. So in the next few posts I’m going to share my story with you- spreading it out because it is just kind of long and looks crazy all in one post.

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et cetera.

breathe in. out.

time is flying faster than i can run.

mental to-do lists filed in my brain

i go through them over and over

hoping nothing is left undone

yet they grow.

there is never nothing that needs doing

and never enough hours in the day.

i need

a little grace

a little more time

a little more patience

with the little person that fills my days with

both unspeakable joy

and tears of frustration.

i chide myself

i need to

be more,

to be better,

to stop this,

and start that…

et cetera.

so seemingly impossible to

just accept myself.

to be gentle and kind

with my own heart,

and cut myself a bit of slack,

as i’ve wrote of

over and over.

so today

my to-do list is starting with

me.

breathe, stretch, walk, think, write…

and forgive myself

for not meeting my own standards yesterday.

and lower the bar just a smidge today.

hug and kiss my little boy,

go outside with him to play

and let the dishes just stay in the sink

and the editing be unfinished

and the emails be unread

and the laundry be unfolded

for now.

they’re not going anywhere.

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The Rut

Every once in while I reach a bit of a plateau in my creative life. I’m not as inspired as I usually am, and everything seems a little… blah. I write a page of text only to read it over and think “this is crap.” I make myself go out and shoot, but I don’t love any of the images. It all feels too familiar. I’ve shot in that spot before, taken that same picture of a very similar flower, the same shot of the ocean from a different beach. I just feel uninspired and discouraged.
There is nothing new under the sun. So why as an artist do I even try to create something totally unique, I wonder.

Yes, I have been there over and over again. It is part of living the creative life, to get into a little funk every once in a while. As artists we are emotional and feeling and tend to overthink things. It is part of us.

There are ways to fight this though- even to use the rut to grow as an artist.

The answer is to do something.
Keep writing. Keep creating. Grab a camera and leave the house. Create… even if you don’t like the results right now. Keep moving. Try something different. Push yourself to experiment and learn. Maybe there is nothing new under the sun, but I guarantee that there will always be something that is completely new to you. Isn’t that what matters?

Looking at everyone else, at what has been done before, can be fun (think Pinterest, Flickr, and blogs), but it can zap your creativity. The greatest inspiration will come from within yourself, not from the work of others. Comparing yourself to anyone else is the worst thing you can do for your own creative journey. I’m not saying to avoid looking at these things (trust me, I adore Pinterest), but it could be beneficial to limit the the you spend on them, especially if you begin to feel a little negative or stuck. Rather than seeking outward inspiration when you’re in a creative rut, look within yourself, get away from your computer, and move forward- be active rather than passive.

Today I’m planning to force myself out of the little rut I’ve been in this week, and I’ll be back soon to share the results.

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Making.

I’ve been crocheting again, making a market bag for our summer beach trips. I hadn’t picked up a hook for a while- in fact it’s been a while since I did anything creative besides photography and writing. Sometimes I crave the repetitive motion of crocheting- it’s calming, and sort of meditative.
The process of making is soothing to me. The progress, the evolution of it- various raw ingredients coming together to create a new entity. Whether it be yarn and hooks, flour and eggs, paint and canvas, ink and paper, film (or sensor) and light… the act of making- the process itself- is beautiful to me. The finished product is too, but the process is what gives it meaning. That is why handmade things are so special, and why creativity fuels the soul.

I’m writing over on my photography blog more lately, trying to keep photography-related things there and making this blog more about my life apart from my business. Of course there is so much overlap, as photography is such a huge part of my life and integrated into every other part of it. I want to share more of who I am over there, beyond the pictures I take, because more and more my business is truly about who I am. So go subscribe if you haven’t already.

This blog has always been about finding the balance- keeping a hold of who I am in the midst of becoming a mother and running a business. It’s about honoring the creative parts of myself and not allowing the busyness of life to crowd out the things that make me feel connected and present. Because that time taken for me- to create, and nurture, and make– helps me to be more centered, calm, and focused in every other area.

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Some Thoughts on Forgiveness

I recently had the opportunity to see the power of forgiveness first hand in the life of someone I’m close to, and I can’t help but be amazed. That choice, that act of letting go of hurt, has brought so much freedom and healing and brought a family back together. It is so beautiful.

I think that it comes more naturally to us as humans to hold grudges and remember wrongs done to us. This tendency is so damaging, but it seems to be built into our psyche. I have been the one who hung on to hurt, and until I was able to forgive, I carried that heavy baggage constantly. I felt the pain of it almost daily. Letting go was sweet freedom. I could move on, and I felt lighter and happier. Eventually the relationship saw reconciliation and healing, as did my own heart. All of this because I chose to seek forgiveness, even though I was the one who was hurt to begin with. {I can guarantee that I never could have done this solely on my own power. The grace and strength to forgive comes from Something higher than ourselves.}

There is so much power in this simple thing, probably because it does go against our instinctual tendencies. Choosing something better, even if it may be harder, has real and beautiful rewards. In fact, the greater the wrong, and therfore the more difficult to forgive, the more freedom and grace will come from the act of forgiveness.

How totally amazing is that?

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Craving Simple.

I am finding delight in the simplest things right now- the first sip of coffee in the morning, curling up with a good book or a favorite magazine, bringing some gardenias in from my yard and taking in their sweet scent…. these are the things keeping me sane in the midst of so much happening around me. Thank you for bearing with me while I’ve been too distracted and overwhelmed to write as much here as I usually do.

ArtRock 2011 is one week from today- my first art show, and my first time selling my work anywhere other than Etsy. I am preparing. Excited. A little bit nervous.
If you’re in the Palm Beach County area next weekend, do come say hello!

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Something real

I came to this place in search of something real and true. Those were the only expectations I allowed myself to bring. I came as a seeker and a learner, as an artist wanting to create something authentic and meaningful.

That is all I ever want, and I am learning that it is attainable, but only if I am willing to be authentic, and real, and true.

Not only am I willing, but I am eager. I crave authenticity so deeply, not only in my work but in every area of my life.

I shared yesterday on my photography blog some more thoughts on the matter…

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fragments

a butterfly we saw as a caterpillar and a cocoon and then released…

…………………..

bits of Spring everywhere… soaking it in.

…………………..

self portrait… discovering so much and learning to fly.

…………………..

I’ve been withdrawing into myself and allowing myself to be there without judgment. Just to be. I feel fragile and thoughtful and quiet, and I am trying not to push myself out of what I’m feeling, but rather exploring that place and gently letting it affect my creativity and vision. My path as an artist is changing and becoming more true and authentic to who I am, what I love, and what my strengths are. I know that some of these changes take immense courage, and I am trying to tap into that.

…………………..

I am marveling at my family– feeling so madly in love with my husband, utterly amazed at our beautiful son and how smart and big he is now. I feel lately, in such a real way, how fast time moves and how soon each stage is over. My heart overflows with nostalgia and happiness and sadness all at once with the thought that he will grow up, that I can do nothing to slow down the years. I feel the weight of the importance of fully being in each moment.
I want to remember every detail- his sweet voice and the way he says certain words, how he plays and runs and the smell of his hair, and how he becomes a baby again when he sleeps.

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A Change

Remember I said I was craving change and newness? Well, one day last week I decided that it was time to cut my hair. I just needed something different and fresh. I felt that if I can step out of my comfort zone and chop my hair off, it might make me feel more free and ready to embrace some other changes.

So I went from this:

To this:

I was so nervous about it, but I really like it.

Change is good, and this is a time for it in my life– and not just with my hair.

________

{p.s.- Sorry I look a little goofy in these pictures. I’m not very good at self portraits in the mirror :)}

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