Thursday, May 18, 2017

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sweeping It Up

Our lives are messy and we often try to sweet our hurts and our "dirt" under a rug as opposed to fully facing it.

Sometimes when we face it when time has accumulated, we understand it better. When we show others our wounds and our hurts and our dirt, they can offer perspective and understanding and even remove the guilt.

My room and walk in closet were recently so cluttered you could barely navigate the room and there was no more walking into my walk in closet. I was lost and embarrassed and ashamed. A dear friend came in and helped me face it. She did not wave a magic wand or do it for me. She invited me to be a part of the process. I had guidance in facing it.

This guidance came without shame or judgement. We grabbed each item, we talked about it. Where it fit into life, what to do with it. There was letting go. It was not just letting go of items. It was letting go of the past, memories, incidents, shame, and so very much more.

With that came release and acceptance. Not only acceptance by another, but acceptance by me of me and my life. Sweeping dirt under a rug ends up with almost unmanageable clutter and one becomes a prisoner of the past dirt.

Clean it, deal with it, trust others that love you. Appreciate them and you and life.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Long Dark Road of Depression

Depression is a hard thing. As I look at the facebook feeds and talk to people I love I see the effects of depression and anxiety. I see brave souls just trying to make it through the day. I see one trying so very hard to get off the meds slowly step by step and inch by inch.

It is a mountain sometimes and other times it feels like a dark road with no end.

I am not sure that depression has an end. But there is light and we do not have to be alone on the journey.

Telling the depressed to cheer up is not the answer. You hold them in the darkness until the darkness keep holding them and do not let them go because it will get dark again.

They are not weak. They are not messed up. They are not failures. They are lovely and the simple act of getting out of bed and facing the road is an act of courage.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Shots We Miss are the Shots We Don't Take

The day after the election I needed a break from all the vitriol on social media. I recently came across some old pictures that my dad took. He had his pictures appear in Stars and Stripes, The Chicago Tribune, Playboy, Marshall Fields, Carson Pirie Scott, various galleries in the cities of Chicago and Dallas and other places in his career. 

I wondered what treasures awaited. I knew his work. He trained me. I have studied his albums. I know his style and sometimes I emulate it. These were different. They were of my mother from back when they were dating. She was breathtaking and he was in love. It showed. It came through. His usual sense of composition and lighting took way to something else. The lens was an extension of his soul. 

I knew it. I felt it. It was raw and honest and it was different from anything else he ever took. I only remember the fighting and the end. Not this side of him. 

He had a whole albums worth of these. One shoot. Film. Film cost money. He had to have used ten rolls. He developed his own negatives, prints and slides. That was time. 

I realized that even in this age of digital I had never invested that time and effort into one subject and never with that level of raw and real emotion. 

Had I never loved?

No. I had. And something hit me when I saw them. 

There was a woman I had dated briefly and we spent the day north of the city. One of the spots we went to was Glencoe, Il. I had brought my camera. I was grossly out of practice and I was shooting in manual and the Pentax was in need of a good cleaning. 

During the day I had stopped being self absorbed. I was immersed and present. I was not distracted. I listened as opposed to waited for my turn to speak. Every moment was wonder and it was the beginning of love. Those are the moments that we do not realize when they are happening, but we know them later. 

I had taken some pictures that had the same level of rawness that I recognize. Sure the composition and use of natural lighting was not perfect. Currently, I am shooting better than I ever have and it is not because of the upgrade in equipment, it is because I am organic again and not overthinking. 

These were raw and passionate and true. These were real and honest and the camera was forgotten because it was a part of my soul. 

I do guilt very well. In that brief relationship I was usually self absorbed and had one foot out the door. Most of the time my brain was somewhere else and I was constantly sad and a little lost. I was never present and I was living in a past full of ghosts that were long gone but haunted me because I allowed them to. It was rather like driving down the road of life looking in the rear view mirror.

But not this day. This day I was present. This moment I was there and I was fascinated and arrested and fully immersed. 

My father once told me when we were shooting together in abandoned oil fields in West Texas , "Son, the shots we miss are the shots we don't take. There will be moments that you will need to forget the f-stop and the shutter speed and the composition. You will have to say to hell with the rule of thirds and just let your heart and the camera become one. When that happens, just fire the release with every beat of your heart. Let your breath be taken away by something or someone and what you do will be breathtaking."

There is a time for thought. There is a time to reflect and think. There is also a time to be immersed in the moment. 

I have not allowed that in the past. I have two choices. I can lament or I can learn. I have chosen to learn. That is all any of us can do. Learn, grow, and let the heart have it's say.

Not everyone is a photographer. Not everyone has a romantic outing with someone. We all have beautiful moments in life and we will have more. In those moments, stay in them , live in them. Make the most of them so you have nothing to regret or ponder, just a treasured memory. If you miss something, do not beat yourself up over it. Those are shots you missed because you did not take them. You do not get to have those moments given back to you. You just have new moments in life to seize.

Go seize some beauty, take the shot, and let every beat of your heart guide the release. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wonder of Woman

Wonder of Woman

This last year has given us a lot of Wonder Woman. She has appeared on the screen again in Batman Vs Superman, has her own movie coming up, and recently has been making the rounds as a little girl who's father spent $1500 in props to recreate the new incarnation of Wonder Woman to empower his daughter. I have also been seeing some little boys and gender fluid children embracing Wonder Woman this year for Halloween.

I will be honest, I did not initially understand her draw until I did some research. Wonder Woman was created by a psychologist and his wife. They created her inspired by feminist figures of the day, especially the birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger.

So here we were, in 1941, the world would be introduced to a strong woman who was a princess, a leader, strong in battle and not a shrinking violet who needs rescuing from a man. Is she beautiful? Yes. Of course she was. She was based off of a woman who lived with the psychologist and his wife in what was likely a polyamorous relationship.

A demigoddess, a leader, a princess, independent and strong.

Sounds like every woman I know and I love. Wonder Woman celebrates the Wonder of Woman.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday Storytelling: The Fear and the Love

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

The world is scary. Love is scary. Pain hurts. We worry more about what other people think than we let on. We are afraid of failing. Our answer too often is to not try at all or to self sabotage something before it gets going. 

This is a very human and very normal response. We have been hurt. We have hurt. We have been lied to. We have lied. We have heard words like forever and they were spoken too soon because the person left...or we did. 

We know the tingles of love and we know the pain of love no longer being love. 

But if we want to insulate ourselves from the pain, we must choose to not love. We must choose to do as Lewis suggests and build walla around our heart while we try to get our proverbial "shit together". The problem is that we will never have our shit together. We will never be ready and while we wait, the mortar we used to wall up our heart will harden and solidify and when we think we have our shit together, there will be no love and we will find ourselves isolated, alone, and strong. Firm in our walls and our aloneness. 

Some suggest a term called at-one-ment. Some say that we need to listen to the soul and not the ego and the soul has love and the ego fear. Some say we have a true nature and a false nature and the true is love and the false is fear. Some say that anxiety and doubt is psychologically unhealthy and that love and trust and happiness is healthy. So we have covered science and a few different religions that all say that love is worth it and worry and fear is useless and does not serve us. 

In prior blogs and magazine articles and my book I have spoken of the hurt I have suffered and the hurt I have caused. 

Something I do not say enough in my quest to encourage others to love is that vulnerability and love scare the shit out of me. It is scary. I have fear too. But I also know from driving a cab that those who wall off the heart successfully end up alone and living in the motels that they die with no one around them. 

They were safe. They protected themselves from pain. The cost was too high. 

Maybe fear is a the roadblock to love. Maybe love will help us get our shit together and maybe it will hurt in the end. But at least we are not dead yet and we are not in the backseat of a cab on our way to a lonely and safe existence. 

Life is too short to not risk. Life is too short to preserve from pain and life will never be tidy and perfect and we will always have why not have love in the midst of it...even if there might be pain. I think it is worth it even if it is scary. 

A life without pain is a life without love. I would rather die than to live that life, for when you chose the life without love and pain and joy and sorrow, you are already dead. 

I started this entry with a quote and I will close it out with a quote. 

Before I do, I will say this. I have been a cynic as described below and I have locked my heart away safe as CS says some do. It costs too much and it is a dead in with more walls and more self imposed exile and any prison known to mankind. I would rather risk being hurt and being sad, because at least I am alive. If you feel, you are alive. If you are alive, there is hope. If there is hope, there is love. Fucking love. 

"Most cynics are really crushed romantics: they've been hurt, they're sensitive, and their cynicism is a shell that's protecting this tiny, dear part in them that's still alive." 

-Jeff Bridges