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 subsides...then...you 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 problems....so 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


Friday, October 28, 2016

Beauty In the Storm, Life in the Storm.

Beauty and Life in the Storm

This was taken in Orlando during July of 2013. It was torrential rain. It was fierce and it was loud and it was powerful....and as you can see, it was also beautiful. 

The rain gives life, but sometimes it takes it away in the flood too, but there is always beauty in the midst. 

Place life analogy here. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Still Moving



I just finished yet another exhaustive survey about former ministers. I have done 2 for various university studies, 3 radio/podcast interviews and 2 other surveys for other organizations.

It is a bit of a trigger sometimes.

I know many ex preachers. One of them is a dear friend name named Jared and he tells me that I am the most resilient bastard that he has ever met. I am always dismissive of him, but as I think about it, I might be a pretty resilient bastard because after everything I have been through the past three years, I am still moving along the highway of life and not stopping.

I went through a divorce. I have been in the hospital three times. I have been in a the er a few too. I have stood by my son as he transitions. I have had 5 failed relationships since my divorce, one of which I fell deeply in love with, and a smattering of awkward coffee dates.

I have hurt friends, angered women without ill intent, had to face my own bullshit, and hold on, there is more.

Abject poverty, health issues without health coverage. I have had to borrow an embarrassing amount of money from a friend once, another raised money for me to get dental work, speaking of the dentist, I lied to a few when I was a taxi driver just to get my hands on some free toothpaste and floss and a new brush.

I have had 5 different jobs in this time.

I have had people go out of their way to tell horrible lies about to me to other people close and dear to me for reasons that I cannot comprehend for the life of me. The funny part is, I have done enough real things that I am not proud of that I have had to come to terms with that would have done the job of hurting my reputation that I would not be able to deny.

I have lost friends, I have had to cut ties with some for my own well being and I have made precious and beautiful new ones.

The road has been bumpy and there have been more construction sites and falling rocks and precipices without guard rails along the way than I can count. Sometimes I have been broken down, out of gas, and lost without a map or guiding star. But I am still moving along. I am not stopping. I can't. I won't. To give up is not an option and sometimes I do not know how I keep going.

I sometimes feel I have lost more than I have gained and I do not know what I have left.

But I know this. The things and people I have retained I have worked hard to retain and I love them. The things I have lost have taught me what matters most and I will always treasure the time I had with those precious souls I no longer have in my life. I wish them well. To the new gifts in my world, I treasure them.

I am an asshole and an angel.

I am a sinner and a saint.

I am celibate as a monk and as promiscuous as a sailor on leave.

I am honest and a liar.

But I cannot stop moving. I cannot stop this journey. I don't know how.

I love as best I can and hope I don't remember how to hate.

I have to love. I have to keep going. I have to believe in now and make what is to come better.

I suspect I am not the only one still moving.



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Odds and the Lies We Tell

Daily Walk
This shot was taken on June 30th of 2008 with my Pentax K-1000 35mm SLR. The sun was high, the sky was clear, and it was about 95 degrees if I remember correctly.

My team and I had just finished a scouting mission in a not yet mapped mountain village near Marfranc. It was about a mile and a half uphill walk from the foot of the mountain by the river. Most of the road was too narrow for vehicles. 

By the time we made it to the village, there was nothing left of me. I was groosly out of shape and weighed in at about 230 pounds back then. 

For many of the children it was the first time they had ever seen a blanc (white person). While our team who spoke creole discussed with the villagers about the possibilities of building a school, well and medical clinic I found myself taking pictures of the village and the children. 

When we were done, it was time to go down the mountain and back to our pick up truck. By now the noonday sun was near it's apex and the further down we went, the hotter it felt. There were three little girls following us and giggling as they went. One of the team members named Larry spoke a little creole and chatted with the girls. They do this walk every day to get water from the river at the foot of the mountain for their family. A mile and a half downhill with empty jugs and a mile and half uphill with full jugs. Every day. Not in school, not playing, no electricity, no education, just the mountain every day. 

They had a baby brother and a mother. No father. 

I knew the stats. One in five children die within a week of birth. So they beat that stat. One in 4 will die of malnutrition by the age of 15. One in four will die by violence by the age of 18. One in three girls will be raped and an alarmingly high statistic of that rape will happen at the hands of UN aid workers and other aid workers there to "help". 

So by the numbers alone we have one of these little girls that will make it to 18. If a school gets made there and a clinic and a well, she may have education and medicine to enter her adult world in a nation with an over 80% unemployment rate with a 1 in 49 chance of death by childbirth every time she has a child to raise them in these statistics. 

I loved their smiles and their laughter, but this thought haunted me as they asked us with delight if we would come back. 

Larry said yes and he meant it. 

I said 'oui' knowing it was a mensonge.

They smiled. I broke a little inside and tried to treasure every step down to the river.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wonder Threatened By Winds of Change

Winds Of Change
Alice asked for Cheshire's guidance in navigating the road to Wonder and freedom from pain and judgement. Along the road they were greeted by the sign that denies wonder and the freight train of baggage brought the winds of change that almost swept Alice away. Cheshire, experienced in the winds of change was steady on her feet and guided Alice to hang on and ride it out. Cheshire knows that no matter what the signs say, that there is a land of Wonder and acceptance and that all trains carrying baggage and winds end and there will be calm to the storm.

Trust does not come easily for Alice anymore, but she saw how firm of foot despite the winds Cheshire was and hung on. 

We need those friends in our lives. The ones who are sure of foot despite loose rocks and high winds. The ones who help us steady our uncertain selves while we trust that the train, the storm and the wind will pass. 

When we have those guides and those friends, we one day become the steady and sure footed person guiding another through similar storms. 



Thursday, October 20, 2016

Alice's New Friends in Wonder

The Gathering
Meet Cheshire, Hatter and White Rabbit.

They are some of Alice's new friend's in Wonder. 

Cheshire accepts everyone She has a habit of seeming to be flaky as she tends to pop in and out, but she always seems to pop in just when you need her and you did not know you did. 

White Rabbit does not say much. He is friendly, but he has an edge and is far too worried about time. 

Then we have Hatter. Hatter used to be respected and revered. He saw too much. Too much pain, too much darkness and too much hate. He went mad. He could not take it anymore. Riddled with PTSD, he is still the man he always was, but others do not see that in him. He is still accepted, but he knows they no longer see him as he is. He is still the same man inside, just with layers of pain that need acceptance.

Alice sees him and believes in him and he in her. 

More to come......

We all need friends and community that accept us. That is part of the path to Wonder. We cannot and should not do it alone.




Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Created Falls



The formation of a waterfall is a fascinating and slow event. What will happen is that a narrow stream will have some hard and resistant rock. The erosion factor on the upstream side of the hard rock will be slower than the erosion on the downstream side of the rock. Over time the erosion differences will grow and the water will fall farther as the downstream end gets further down to the point that even a canyon can be created.

This process happens over a very long time and it is happening as we speak at every waterfall in every stream as you read this. The change is imperceptible to the human eye, but it is happening.

This is the path of nature and the creation of nature.

Often, we create lovely gardens in our backyards and we will create a waterfall in a pond using pumps and guides and mechanisms. Visually, we have the very same thing, but it is not forges in the reality of resistance and time. It is instant, yet still lovely.

This is the path of nurture and the creation of human kind.

Some would say what is made in a garden is less, I would disagree.

What we create in the garden of love is not less and it is not artificial. The plants we plant are cares for and offer oxygen. The fruits and vegetables we garden and harvest still provide nourishment. The flowers are still used by the birds and the bees to pollinate nature. The pond with the waterfall provides beauty and a home to exotic fish we buy and allows insects and nearby woodland creatures like squirrels and raccoons and even skunks and opportunity to drink.

The sources are different in the creation, the methods happen at a different rate, and it is all beautiful and life giving.

Maybe we would do well to not judge the differences in this world, but enjoy the beauty.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Connections We Have and the Ones We Need

Connections
In 1830 the Baltimore and Ohio Railway Company opened up the first railroad in the US a mere 3 years after becoming an entity. By the 1860's the railway boom connected the nation and replaced canals as the major form of transportation. Not only that, but along the railroads and their stations we had the telegraph system providing nearly instant communication in live time across the nation. Small towns like this with grain elevators and corn and soybean were now connected to large cities. People could visit places they never thought possible and we were able to get goods to spaces that normally would not have access to certain foods, steel, and much more.

I recently read an article that tells us, despite even more connectivity and access, the divide between the rural community and the city are even more prevalent than it ever was and it is exhibited in how we are voting this year. 

Western Union and AT&T are no longer providing telegraph services, but they are still part of our communications infrastructure. Railways are no longer steam locomotives, but they still transport goods and people all over the nation. 

Add to that the telephone, highways, airlines, wireless communication and the internet and we are connected now  more than we were before, yet we have divides and fear and judge the other. 

Our connections are broken. The more connected we get, the more divided we seem to be. 

We hate and fear so readily, and yet, we need each other. 

How we better connect the human heart as well as we have connected our communications and transportation infrastructure will require connections of the heart. For thousands of years we have build ports, the roman roads, drawn maps, created aqueducts, canals, railroads, pony express, airplanes, highways, telegraphs, telephones, wireless, internet and I suspect things we could not have imagined are just around the corner. 

May we find innovation in connecting our hearts, our values and our humanity. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

On Sunsets, Endings and Beginnings

Urban Sunset
Sunsets are something used in Hollywood and literature a lot. The hero rides off into the sunset after saving the day. The sunset on love as something ends. It is always seen as an ending. 

In some ways it is and it can be, but in other ways it is a beginning. A beginning of the night and there is something that happens several hours after a sunset, a new day rises with the sunrise.

If you are feeling like something is ending or something good is leaving your life, know that the sunrise always follows the sunset. For every ending there is a new beginning.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday StoryTelling: Late

I do not know why I am thinking of this, but there was a night back in 2013 when I was driving a taxi that I cannot get out of my mind.

In my condo complex is an elderly Indian couple. The husband has Parkinson's and movement is difficult for him

It was a windy day with rain and I was leaving for work with not much time to get there on time. It was the night before thanksgiving and that is one of the three busiest days in the taxi and bar industry.

As I was walking to my car parked 2 buildings down I saw them getting out of their car. She was trying to help him and it was much more slow going than normal in the pelting rain and wind. I kept walking to my car. Then....I swore to myself and turned around and took his arm and helped her help him get to the door and inside.

She was so very grateful that she was near tears for the help and assistance.

I hurried to my car and hustled to the taxi terminal and started a 14 hour shift.

I tell this story not to bring praise to myself, but to bring another matter to light.

The whole time I was helping them, all I could think about was work. The whole time I was helping them I wished he would move faster. The whole time I was helping them I was anxious about my day. The whole time I was helping them I was upset about the rain soaking me. The whole time I was helping them I was irritated with them and myself for helping them.

I helped them anyway. I could not turn away from them.

They did not know any of this. As far as they were concerned I was a swell guy and a helpful and kind man. Inside I felt like a selfish prick.

To this day, I do not know who is right, but I am glad I did the right thing. They needed help and I was the only one outside.

I usually have a great tie in to a larger point. Tonight I do not.

Lemme know if you relate on some level.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Heritage



This was taken in rural Illinois, but it reminds my of my grandpa Green's farm in West Texas.

My heritage.

700 acres of wheat rich land, cattle, chickens, pigs, goats, geese, a grocery store, and an antique shop.

Most of it is gone now. Some of the land still exists, but the animals, the farmhouse, and the stores are all gone. All in the name of progress and the new economy where the big boxes took it all from the little guy and no one shops local anymore.

Here is what is lost. When the oil dried up in that area, jobs were lost and people had families to feed. My grandpa gave out "store credit" knowing they would never be able to pay him back.

He held his own and his books never ran in the red. People were more important than profit margins.

He kept a town fed and held his own against the Safeway. He kept a town fed and was forgotten when the Wal Mart and the Home Depot were able to offer cheaper food and barbed wire.

One day, he opened his barn and the simple act of moving the door had his wrist break like a twig. That was when he leaned cancer had ravaged his insides. Even when dying, he kept on giving. He kept sharing his life force and his abundance with whomever he could.

He was full of love.

My middle name is LaFord. It was his first name.

I've told stories of my other grandfather, Eugene.

Both men were not only good men, they were great men. Men of honor and kindness and their strength was in generosity and love and aid to those who needed it.

I used to believe I am not as good as them.

I see now that I am a man who had to learn the value of their path. The path of love.

We all have a heritage. It is not found in property or names. It is in the lessons we were taught. It is the love that flows in our DNA and the tenacity to not give up on yourself.

Remember the best parts of your heritage and honor yourself by living up to the best you that you can be.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Special Announcement

This is not a normal picture with a story. This is an announcement with a story. 

This friday I will be at the Flower of Life Gallery in Lockport from 6-8 presenting with another artist. 

We will be talking about our pieces currently on display at the Flower of Life Gallery and we will also be talking about our history of artists, what inspires us and what moves us in art. 

If you live in the Chicago area or have a friend that does, please feel free to invite them to this intimate reception. 

Is is located at 1601 S State Street in Lockport Illinois. Parking is limited so you may have to park at the metra station a block away. 

As I prepared what I was going to say, I spoke to professional artists and art dealers on how best to present myself and my work. They gave me wonderful feedback and in the process of preparing my presentation, I learned a lot about myself. 

What I have to say will be informative, but it will also be extremely honest and vulnerable and intimate. More vulnerable and honest and intimate in the public eye than I have been since I wrote and published my book last year. 

I have some dear friends attending for moral support because I have made it clear that this will be essentially me ripping my heart out of my chest and plopping it in front of the crowd for all to see and judge or appreciate. That is hard for most people. Especially me. 

I have, in my life, made a lot of mistakes and those have been exposed by a few people and have also been defined by them moreso than my beauty. That is not unique, we all have. My mistakes and my beauty are all a part of my vulnerability. I do hope you can attend.

You would honor me with your presence as I stand naked and exposed in a room for of people and pour out the story of me in the hopes they connect. 

See you on Friday (I hope). 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Timelines, Patterns and Failures


This simple snapshot that is a little out of focus was part of a series of pictures I took that are now appearing on my year ago timeline.

In the timeline I was put in a position at a lovely church called the Refuge to face myself. I did that through the eyes of others and recognized the patters and the failures that I have defined myself by while rejecting the beauty.

As we look in the timeline as where we have been and where we are we will project where we are going. We will base where we are going on patterns and where we dreamed we will be.

Today started off the exact opposite as I had planned it and in the failure of expectations being met all I can see is the pattern in the timeline of failures. Like so many of us, I assume that is what the continuing pattern will be without recognizing the pattern of beauty and love.

But that is who we are. We have so many books and gurus speaking of the positive. We buy the books, go to the seminars, and surround ourselves with artistic zen and inspirational quotes and our default is toward worry, self degradation, mistrust, judgement of others and self.

I sought refuge in the Refuge and this refugee felt as if he found asylum 1,000 miles from home, now things feel out of focus.

I wish we could see a different pattern in the timeline. It is there and it is not a failure.




Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Alice's Sunset on Love

Sunset On Love
Alice knew he was never coming back. She made the brave step and decided she would not pretend to be something she was not. She had tried too many times for too long to lose her muchness to make another person happy. She thought that if he accepted who she pretended to be that he would one day accept her, but he never could because he never would. 

She light's a cigarette as the sun sets on love. On his end, it was never love. But she did. She wanted to love and to be loved. She thought she was making the brave steps in sacrifice of self for love. But she had to love her first. 

Despite the pain, she knows that for the first time in a long time, she has put herself first by refusing to be less for another. With the pretense gone, all that is left is here and her muchness is returning. 

She is becoming fully her. She is starting her journey to Wonder. 

***End***

This is the preface to the Alice story where she finds her freedom in the field. There comes that moment of contemplation of love lost. Even if it was never real for the other (though it may have been, you may never know), it was real for you. You may have to take some time and reflect and think. You may feel naked against the sunset and vulnerable, but there is also a hidden strength. It does not get recognized immediately, but it is there. 

I am very proud of my "Alice" work. I have an amazing model to work with and soon she will be accompanies by a cast of characters as they all discover Wonder together. 

In the meantime...enjoy her. The Alice series will be some of my most heartfelt work on a personal level. 

If you wish to buy this print. It is only $10 and was recently on display at The Flower of Life Art Gallery in Lockport. The original was raffled off and 2 others have been spoken for. I limit all Alice prints to 20. There are 17 left for purchase. 

If you would like to have a copy of Alice's Sunset on love, please switch to desktop mode on your browser and click the buy print button below the photo. 

It will be printed on high quality paper using archival quality ink and sent directly to you. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Local Galleries and New Directions


This is the outside of the Gallery where I have had my work shown in three shows this year. It is owned and operated by a man who has become a dear friend. It is, when me and my other artist friends are there, my home away from home. We are together with our work and among lovers of art.

This upcoming Friday, I will be there in the evening with fellow artist, Giselle, doing a meet and greet with the public to talk about our pieces that are on display, what inspires us as artists and also to do some Q and A with the public. Other artists will be doing the same this month with their pieces as well.

On the weekends I have found myself attending trunk shows and other events to display and sell art. Recently there was a chamber of commerce function where I was one of 3 people with the honor of representing the local arts community and I was also on the AM talk radio dial doing the same for a 30 minute spot.

The art work consumes me and fills me and this particular art community that I have become a part of accepts me and they have become my tribe.

This site, as you see it, has been the co creation of some silent mentors in my life who have been guides to me and continue to do so.

The point of the daily blog has been to show that I can commit to a daily routine and that I have a large body of work with a diversity of material. I have also had an opportunity to see what is shares, what is read, what is viewed and what is bought.

With your help, I have able to narrow down the art and the display of the art.

Soon, the daily blog will be reduced to whenever I feel I have something to say and it will no longer be the highlight of the site. I will still be writing here and in other soon to be announced venues. Just not daily.

The site will be undergoing some major changes where the focus will also be on the art and it will be easier to buy and connect with me for consignment work.

I am a man of passion and not all business, however, so this storytelling and personal connection will still be a part of the site, merely on a reduced scale.

I want to thank everyone for reading and hope you will continue to do so.

I also hope that when the soon to be released Patreon page launches, you will support this creative endeavor. Of course, I will honor those who support me in ways I cannot discuss right now.

In closing, galleries like this exist in towns like yours. Some are owned by tattoo artists, painters and dealers. They are free to enter and you can buy wonderful pieces or merely admire them and get to know the art and artists in your area telling the story of us.

Stay tuned. I will have more to say on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Story-Telling Saturdays: Gossip

I remember the panicked and scared look on a GLBT person I know who was still in closet at the time.

The young person came to me and another adult about a rumor. With a trembling voice the young person said, "There is a rumor that I am a lesbian. I'm scared."

"Oh no," I said, "How did the rumor get out? Do you know who did it?"

"I told 4 of my friends in school, one of them decided to tell everyone because she thinks it is a sin."

The other adult piped in at that point. "Something is not a rumor if it is true."

I felt my blood boil as I said, "No, it is not slander if it is true, it is still a rumor if the person does not wish the details of their lives spoken about!"

The other adult looked at me and then said, "Well, she should have been more careful about who she told. She has to take partial responsibility for this."

"No. That is like telling a rape victim they should not have worn a red dress that night or flirted with someone she found interesting. Hell, you may as well tell a mugging victim they should not have owned a nice watch or an iPhone."

The other adult got it and we were able move on and help a troubled teen through a troubling time.

We are seeing a dangerous trend in youth where the fear of gossip can lead to suicidal ideations, cutting and other things.

I do not think we adults are much different The gossip hurts us. It creates anxiety, leads to reputation loss and there are concentric circles of pain that ripple out.

If we feel better speaking ill of others, we need to look in a mirror and take a deep and long look into the soul. If we justify the actions of another that creates deep harm in someone, we need to face that mirror yet again. If we are the victim, we need to look in that mirror one more time and take that deep look and do something extremely brave.

We need to love ourselves.

We will make mistakes. We will have lapses of judgement. We will also do nothing wrong other than being ourselves and people will see that as unacceptable.

The self appointed wiki-leaks of your life can go to hell.

You hold your head high.

If you are the one with the loose lips. Own it and apologize and do better.

May we all do better and may we celebrate the story of us and not shame the story.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Consuming Fog

Consuming Fog
It is not the darkness that envelopes light. Darkness is dispelled by light. 

Fog can limit light's ability to pierce the night and obfuscates the things we need and want to see. 

Darkness can be defeated with a little bit of light. 

Fog makes things grainy. Fog makes things a little spooky. Even in an area you know very well, fog can make us feel lost. 

So when things are what we often call dark, know that it is just a little foggy and fogs eventually lift.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Always Coming Soon

Coming Soon
There is always something coming soon. You cannot see a movie without hearing about ten other movies that are coming soon. Empty storefronts promise a new business coming soon. Everything is just about to happen. 

We are the same way. Everything is coming soon. Love, destruction, a new opportunity, our next failure, discovery, mistakes, loss and gains. That coming soon is tomorrow, the next moment, or even a decade from now. 

The problem is that sometimes we can focus so much on what is coming up with anxiousness that we are never here and now. 

When we are present, when we stop worrying about what is coming soon, we get to make what happens next. We create and co create with all that are around us. That happens now, not tomorrow. 

Tomorrow is coming soon, but whatever happens will happen. What matters now is now. 



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vive la Différence

Vive la Difference 
There is a meme on social media that is popular. It has variations on the theme, but the basic idea is this:

"When you say, I cannot eat bacon because of my religion, that is fine. When you say that others cannot eat bacon because of my religion, that is not fine."

I see too much of that and not much celebration of the differences in us. The problem in this case is not religion, it is our personal ethics on things. We all have them. Sometimes they come from religion, sometimes they come from philosophy, and other times it is just they way we think things are supposed to be and how we choose to live our life. 

And once we have that standard, we expend so much energy wondering why others do not live like us and we often make sure they know about it. 

How we eat, how we love, who we sleep with, how we conduct friendships and relationships and clothing and what we weigh and so much more is our choice and we should not be judged for that and we should not be telling others that they should be more like us. 

When someone judges you by their standard and you are truly not breaking any laws or hurting anyone, the problem is not yours. The moral failing is not yours. The shortcoming is not yours. They are judging you based on a standard of right and wrong they created to feel more secure in an uncertain world. They can blame it on a god or a philosopher or a magazine story or any other such thing, but regardless the source, the problem is theirs. 

There is something else that is amiss when we do that. We make others feel less than they are. We diminish them because they live differently than we do. We hurt them. We make them question themselves. Here is the thing, many to most of us hide who we are and tell half truths about who we are because we are afraid to be rejected for who we are. It is much easier to pretend to live by another's fabricated standard to live within the circle of acceptance or to be rejected for what we pretend to be as opposed to the gut wrenching pain of being rejected for who you are and how you really and truly live. 

When I was a minister in evangelical churches, I was very judgmental of others. When I was a progressive christian, I was still on a mighty tower determining right and wrong and good and bad based on something non universal. Based on my perspective. And the whole time I hid aspects of myself so I would not face the same living hell I put others through. 

Now, in my mid forties, I truly love and celebrate the diversity. As I explore the differences of how people live and why they do, I am broadening my horizons in what feels like a personal renaissance. 

How others live, even when they make choices we would not make, is utterly fascinating and beautiful. 

I wish I could tell us all to just be ourselves and not judge others for their differences. But the reality is that when you are yourself, others will reject you and it will hurt. But there is a flip side. Others will celebrate you and they will celebrate themselves. That is beautiful. 

Celebrate those differences. Celebrate yourself. Try not to force others to be like you no matter how wonderful you are, they have to walk their path. And please please please do not think yourself less or live less than you are to make others happy. If they get to live their lives by their standards, wonderful. You have the same right. It is a violation of your beauty to be expected to live their lives by their standards. 

Long Live The Difference!!!!



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Aftermath of the Aftermath

Destruction After Destruction
This is the aftermath of the aftermath of a fire that took out a building with businesses and apartments in downtown Lockport. Firefighters were swift in ensuring the safety of residents and no one was injured. 

When I did photography for local papers in my youth I took a few shots of fires in progress and some of the aftermath, but not the aftermath of the aftermath. 

To properly rebuild after a critical level of destruction in life, you have to finish the job the fire started. You have to clean the rubble and continue to deconstruct and tear down so you have a clean slate, a clean foundation, to rebuild. 

If you try to rebuild on top of the rubble and on half torched walls, the new structure will not stand as well and will still be damaged. 

When we face certain tragedies in life, we have to continue the deconstruction so we can build clean. So that what we rebuild stands strong. The great news about this, is rebuilding allows us to take what we learned and update the structure of our lives. New wiring makes us less prone to repeat tragedy. Sprinkler systems will reduce the damage. Better materials will ensure a more resilient us. 

As long as we have a foundation to us, we can rebuild our lives time and time again. But sometimes, we have to tear it all down. The aftermath of the aftermath allows beauty to build. clean the slate. Rebuild. Do the hard work. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Wine

Wine fascinates me. It is very popular right now. We have wine clubs, we have it in religious ceremonies. Wine has existed for thousands of years. Until we run out of grapes and dandelions and other such things, we will still have wine. 

Wine is all about timing. The grapes have to be harvested at just the right moments. Then they have to be fermented for a window of time. Then we have to age the wine within a certain window. Then it needs to be bottled in a certain manner and can stay in the bottle for a certain amount of time in the right conditions and can only be drunk after opened under certain conditions. 

If the timing is off on any of these things, you have a bottle of something bitter and even toxic. 

We are not like wine in any way, shape or form. With wine, screw one thing up and you no longer have good wine. We are more resilient Time is kinder to us. Are there points where we hit the point of no return? Of course there are. But there are far fewer and far more rare than wine. 

As you drink your next glass of wine, appreciate the precision that went into making it drinkable. As you drink your next glass of wine, know that you are better and more robust and resilient. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Saturday Storytelling: The Art of Love for the Love of Art

Today I represented my art guild at a chamber function with 2 other members. While I was doing that, there were another 2 members at an art crawl near the city and yet another selling in a booth for Oktoberfest.

To sit in a room and talk to businesses, chamber reps, radio DJ's, elected officials and business owners and the general public about what we do as a guild, our upcoming show and even try to sell some of their material was the art of love and the love of art.

I had people ask me for my card and I had none to offer. I was not there to prop up Pat Green. I was there to prop up The Artist Guild of Lockport. People who have a love of art and the art of love drives me to promote and elevate all of us.

We are community. We are friends. We have different skills.

Today, one of my peers in the art guild said that I could sell to a dead man. I suppose that is my skill.

I got some of the artists some potential retail floor space in a music shop to move their art. I got us some radio time. I made some bridges with some other area businesses and made the public aware of us.

One of the members with me helped move another artist's inventory and then advised her in better retail display techniques and also made headway with some members of the chamber of commerce.

The love of art brought a community together. The art of love had three people get up before dawn to display and highlight the work of a community. The love of art had three others get up before dawn to drive to other parts of the Chicagoland area to sell their art, but in the name of the art of love, they will be with us next Saturday as we gather together as a community and in a gallery and celebrate all that we are to a group of people who have a love of art and want to see a good art show put on by people who understand the art of love.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Man and Nature and the Nature of Man

Nature and Mankind
This was one of my pictures of Niagara Falls I took in 2013. It was a rather impulsive moment. I was an hour and a half away from the falls on a business trip. As I was leaving I thought to myself that I would see one of the great natural wonders of the world. 

The closer I got to the falls, the more congested it was. The more tacky and horrific all the signs and the storefronts were. The more impossible it was to drive and park. 

This natural wonder of the world is so congested with the lesser wonder of consumerism and tourism that getting a good vantage point is an arduous challenge. 

But that is what we do when we find something beautiful, isn't it. We try to surround it and contain it and control the narrative. 

I have seen that happen to not only natural wonders, but people. 

We will, in our lives, encounter beautiful people who inspire us. Those lovely souls are sometimes surrounded by lessor ones trying to make a buck, own or capitalize off of that which is lovely on it's own as it is. 

May we all move past the ownership mentality, the tourist mentality and return to pilgrimages of beauty and just take in the wonder for all that it is. May we not try to control and contain wonder and open it up to all.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Who is Out Of Place?

Out of Place?
I went to a regional airport a few months back and shared some shots. This is one I did not share as of yet. It is a wild coyote in the middle of the tarmac at the regional airport.

At first it seemed out of place, then I remembered a story someone told me about a wild bobcat where she lives. A friend's daughter was trapped in a barn with a wild bobcat. Police and wildlife rescue were able to get the young lady out safety and extract the bobcat safely to be released back into the mountains and the trees. 

Many people who live there spend insane amounts of money to transplant to this area of nature and beauty.  I think their wealth may give them an illusion of control as if nature were a barista to shit on in a local Starbucks. One of them commented to her that the police should have destroyed the bobcat. She has lived there well over a decade and understands nature. She looked at them and said, "Why? The bobcat was here first."

The more and more we build, the more and more we encroach on wildlife and then when it wanders about we say it is out of place and does not belong. We see the same with human beings. Indigenous populations and gentrification are merely two horrific examples of what we are capable of. 

Sometimes we are like the coyote. We go to places and for various reasons we are made to feel as if we do not belong. Maybe it is because of our color, sexuality, weight, gender, income level, style, or any other reason. We are made to feel uncomfortable and an outcast for simply being ourselves and going where we need to go or wish to go. 

It may even be is spaces you feel invited to only to find out you are not welcome for reasons unclear to you and made to feel less over it. 

I would love to tell you to ignore them, but sometimes they make it difficult to do so when they chase you out or wonder why further action was not taken against you. 

The world is getting smaller and smaller every day. There are less woods and habitats for us to be safe in. We will have to take risks to simply live our lives. Sometimes not everything is warm and fuzzy, but in you is beauty and strength. Know that as you travel, those that say you are out of place or do not belong are wrong. You may have even been here first. 

The people who determine what is and is not out of place are the blind ones. They have no place to say you are out of place.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Battle Ready

Battle Ready
To be ready for battle or combat is not the same thing as going to battle. It just means you are ready if you have to be. Sometimes in life, you have to be battle ready. The cannons have to be set to fire as you traverse the seas of life.

If you have to go to battle for yourself, for love, or for others, be ready and only fire if you have to.

To my daily readers, I apologize that quality of shots has been less lately. I have been hanging in there and now I am battle ready and in the fight....for me, for my son, and for those I care about and love. For once, I take care of me first.

Battle Ready. It is a part of the story of us.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Through The Fire And The Smoke

Through the Fire
We focus on the fire and the smoke in our lives. The heat of the fires in life burn, but we forget what else is happening. 

Despite the smoke, the light of the fire will show us community and friends on the other side. 

That is all I got today.

May we use the fires in life to light our way to love.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Beauty in Trust

Trust
There is in this life moments that you do not capture the way in which you would like to, but you capture them the way they were meant to. When I am out with my camera and I capture a moment, there are two cameras, the camera in my hand and the camera in my mind.

I am thankful that the camera in my mind retains the clarity that my camera does not always get by way of exposure and focus. 

I knew this moment would not last long and I knew the sun and shadow were off for a shot, so I overexposed my settings and shot it.

There is a ladybug in a child's hands. She (the ladybug) trusts her (the child) implicitly and that trust is not betrayed. The ladybug is safe in her hands. She only has care and compassion and love for the little ladybug. She is gentle and kind. 

The previous day the same child would trust me implicity, grab me by the hand and take me to wonderland. Her wonderland would be a space at a wooden table outdoors where I would be covered in paint and glitter in short time. 

Just as the ladybug flew away to never be seen again after this wonderful moment, I would eventually have to fly back to Chicago and I will likely never experience moments again with the young lady that ladybugs and butterflies trust.

We all have moments and the moment is all we have. We do not know what the next day will bring. We need to treasure the ladybugs, capture the moment and savor every beautiful nano-second. 

There is beauty in the moment, there is beauty in trust. May we honor and treasure the beauty in trust we had, we have and we will have. May we treasure more than we lament. May we never forget the moment in front of us right now. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Story Telling Saturdays: The Value of the Artist

This is going to be a momentary rant.

Artists are asked by governments, churches and business people to make art at little to no fee often. There is this promise of "good exposure" used as the exchange. Some of the people who make this offer actually believe it is true. That they are offering with their graciousness, an opportunity for a struggling artist to make a name for themselves.

What they have actually done, is diminish the value of the artist and art.

The same people who will pay $40,000 or more for a car, wear a Movado watch, buy organic foods at Whole Paycheck, and expect to be paid for their skills put art and artists at the same level of value as their child's stick figure sketch on a refrigerator wall and are ultimately looking for get something of great value for nothing.

If it is a government agency on a local level doing this, they fail to realize that art not only contributes to the social equity of a community, but the economic equity of a community. You see the art every day on every storefront and in every advertisement and catalog and website. Someone studied a craft for years. Sometimes they were self taught at great expense and investment of time. Sometimes, like me, they were apprentices working under a master or three learning the craft. Then there are the ones who got a degree in their craft and studied in art schools that are often more expensive and gave a higher level of education than the CPA telling you that it is acceptable on a balance sheet to devalue art and artists.

I have lost count how many times I see someone go online and just grab a piece of art or music for their own purposes and give no thought to it and incorporate it to their website or literature or event and they would be the first to call the police and cry foul if someone were to refuse payment for their services our grab a widget from their store and place it in their pocket and walk away.

Here is an interesting fact for you. Of the 25 top rated museums in the world, the following are among those.

The Met
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Acropolis
The Louvre
The Van Gogh Museum
Uffizi

Many of the other museums on the list such as the Smithsonian also have priceless works of art that are featured.

If you are willing to spend $30 or more to see these wonderful treasures, I have good news for you.

In almost every town in America and in many villages and small cities around the world, there are galleries featuring the work of local artists still creating beauty, making statements, reflecting the best and the worst of us. In many of these galleries you can walk in at no charge, and if you see something that moves you, you can take it home and make it a part of your life, your family and your heritage.

It has value. So does the artist.

Please, buy art. Do not steal it. Please, be willing to value the artisan and not try to make them your slave and pretend to be doing them a favor.

The value of the artist is priceless, the value of their time and art should come with a fair price.







Friday, September 23, 2016

Focus On Creation

Focus On Creation
This is another perspective of the artist and her work. I put the primary focus where her primary focus is..on creation. Creation takes not only what is in our hearts and our souls and our minds; but creation also requires focus and intention.

The creation can be art, the creation can be friendship, the creation can be romantic love, and even sanding and staining your deck. 

A friend recently reminded me that with every moment we take action, we are creating. We create love, we create hate, we create strife and beauty. Many of these creations happen without thought and much focus and they often lack the beauty that intentional focus can give. 

When we focus on creation as she is, that which is in our minds and hearts and souls can come to life. 

Focus on creation and focus on beauty. We have enough reckless creations making the world darker and destroying our very ecosystem. 

Focus on creation for it is part of the best of the story of us. 

***If you wish to buy this or any print in an 8x10, they are available at only $10 from now until October 1st. Just go into desktop mode and you will see a 'buy print' button by almost every photo on this site. ***

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Artist's Presence

I just ask that you take a moment to see the creation in process. The focus and the love. The brush is a caress on a new friend coming to life and into creation from the artist's heart and soul to be shared, when complete with us. 

This has value. 

This is beauty. 

This is creation. 

This is art.

This is us. 

We create, we love, we share. We have value and beauty too. 

The artist's presence is within us all. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SPECIAL SALE ON ALL 8x8 & 8x10 PRINTS!

Soar free, own art, save money!

From today until October 1st, all 8x8 and 8x10 prints of my art works is on sale. 

50% off on both. 

$10.

All pieces are still limited to 20 and then I remove them from the store.

"So, Pat," you are not asking, "I am looking on my phone and I do not see how to buy your art. How do I take advantage ot this wonderful deal?"

Mybad. My widget for my store does NOT work on mobile browers. I am so sorry. I will change that soon. But for now, do the following. 

1. Switch to desktop mode on your browser. 

2. Go to the store tab and you will see a "buy now" widget on the bottom right of the photo. 

3. Click that and buy it and it will be yours!

4. Also, all photos in the blog are for sale the same way. So scroll through your favorite pics and stories and make one yours today!


Believe in Imagination and Whimsy

Flight of the Faerie
This little girl was a faerie all day long at a Peace Pole event. She had a grown up faerie with her all day long and it was wonderful. Then, I saw her by herself for a few moments and she took to leaping and flight. I could see in her heart and mind's eye that her wings were flapping and she was taking to flight blessing everyone with glitter and making their day's bright. 

We, as adults, have taken to suppressing our imaginations and a sense of wonder and whimsy. We say we are being realistic. I often disagree. I feel we are being fatalistic and forgetting to believe in wonder and joy and delight. We have forgotten to imagine dreams and try to make them come true. We sit in realistic misery and wonder why we are so sad. We are hard workers, we are denying ourselves so much and as we take this realistic road that lacks wonder, we never feel good enough because the demands we place on ourselves are never met. 

I am in no way saying that we dispense with reality. This little magical one will have to go home, possibly do chores, eat her veggies and go to bed at a reasonable hour. She may even have school or daycare to attend. she has a life of realities, but part of her reality is delight and leaping about the garden making us all smile. 

May we never forget to imagine, to embrace whimsy and believe that not only that is all right, but we are all right. 

Believe in imagination and whimsy and you will believe in yourself and beauty.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Campfires Of Life


When I was a minister I was part of something called the Outlaw Preachers. Conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists used to write about us a lot as if we were a movement to be feared. The reality is that we were mostly men and women who gathered together to love, exude grace and drink a cool drink by a warm fire. At least, that was how we started.

I used to think I needed that label of Outlaw Preacher to have that. Here is the thing. I was wrong.

The cool drink by the warm fire can happen anywhere. With anyone. And I can be whatever I am.

Some of the people around the fire that I sang with in this shot I have known for a scant few months and others I met just that day. We sang songs of peace and hope and love and enjoyed each other's company.

Find your fire and your beverage and taste life. The campfires of life are waiting for all of us and our voices. Sit down and add your voice to the song of life and warm not only your body, but your heart.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Path

The Path
There is a path before all of us. We may not know what is around the next bend. It is mysterious. It is beautiful. It is scary sometimes. Sometimes it has choices and forks and hazards. We may slip and fall and get hurt. But the path is there. When it is lovely like this one, it is easy to accept it. 

Even when it is not as lovely as this...stay the course. Enjoy the path.

Welcome to Moonlight From Ashes Media

Moonlight From Ashes Media is the home of PhotoJournalist, Columnist, and Artist Pat Green. Below you will see sample work of Pat'...