Saturday, April 30, 2016
One was a copy of the Joy of Photography and the other was a real 35mm camera with several rolls of black and white film. It was a Pentax K-1000 that I still have to this day in perfect condition. My father used to be a freelance photographer. His work appeared in catalogs, magazines, stock photography, galleries and even Playboy. His specialty was jewelry ads. He knew almost every hand model in Chicago and Dallas in the 1970's. Privately he loved doing landscaped and sunsets.
We would spend the rest of that Christmas break with him teaching me perspective, the rule of thirds, shutter speed, f-stops, using filters, lighting, developing and seeing the world through a new lens.
I fell in love with the torch that was passed. Not only did I get to share a passion with my father, but I soon developed my own style and perspective and I love how the world looked through the lens of a camera and the ability to share perspective.
The following year I would be a freshman in high school and spend the next 4 years as the photographer for the school paper and many of the yearbook photos. The teacher who ran the paper thought I had a great gift at bringing people alive and making them shine. I loved what I did. I loved student of the month, games, events, homecoming and prom court photos and so much more. My passion was growing and it was exercised almost daily.
By the time I was a Senior in HS I was taking pictures for cash in two local papers and sometimes saw my work in the Tribute or the Sun Times. Two of Chicago's landmark newspapers. I even got hired to do some stock photography and saw my work appear in ads. It was wondrous, but I never thought of myself as a photographer. I had other things to do. This was just my passion...the same was true with writing.
After college I would work full time jobs and get married and become a parent. The camera would be cared for, but not used. I would take a shot or two for someone's marketing literature or website here and there over the next 15 years after college, but nothing special.
Then came one session with my therapist in the wake of my divorce. She looked at me and asked me what my hobbies were. I gave her a blank stare.
A few weeks later I was shooting with my old camera again and I ordered a used and slightly beat up Pentax K10D digital SLR that could use all my K series lenses. I was seeing the world through the lens again and I could almost feel my now deceased father over my shoulder guiding me and helping me get back in the groove.
I kept the shots in my hard drive and shared almost none of them. Then I decided to step out and showed them to some friends who are artist and professional photographers and they said...you are not just good, you are great. You have perspective and talent and I feel the stories not told in many of these.
So now, here I am, sharing my work and my stories.
Tonight, I will be in my very first art gallery opening with two pieces. They are based off of songs and I will be among wonderful artists. I am an artist. We are artists.
My dad will be there in spirit looking over my shoulder. I have a guardian angel/muse (google Anam Cara) that cannot make it, but the inspiration given to me that created this moment will have the important people there in spirit. I am so glad to have my dad and the muse there even though absent.
The torch has been passed and I have 2 guardian angels over my shoulder.
Friday, April 29, 2016
|Hat at Home|
Thursday, April 28, 2016
|Beauty From Neglect|
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
You may think you are wrecked. But you fight on to live another day. But for what? To make money? To have a great job? To have a nice house? What matters? In those moments of mortality we fight to live for something that matters to live on and we forget the lesson too often and go back to the things that do not matter.
If you have a dream or a passion reach for it. Strive for it. Go for it. If there is someone you come home to, be it a lover or child(ren) or even a pet that mattered to you in that moment, make sure they know they are valued. Whatever it is that keeps you alive in the moment of the precipice of death or shines a light when things are dark, make sure that what you do in the day to day brings you closer to as opposed to further from.
All it will take is another moment or blink of an eye that you could be wrecked again. Don't lament the moments you did not take.
Monday, April 25, 2016
|Our Furry Friends|
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016
This is a time of transition for many. Where what you were no longer holds true and you go through a period of deconstrution and then rebuild to be defined as something new. It is a time of facing the shame of the past and embracing discovery and enrichment and formerly forbidden ideas and desires and passions. That in between space is liminal space.
Liminal space is the river that we take a ferry from one side to the other. We cross over. This brings me to the most profound moment I ever had when I was a taxi driver. A driver named Mark who was so wise and zen and profound looked at me and asked me a question. He asked me if I was all right. I said I was, but I could not understand that I was beginning to like the life of a taxi driver in the night. He looked at me for a moment and said, "You are Siddhartha." He knew somehow that I would get the joke.
Long story short, Siddhartha tried to find contentment crossing the river from one state of being to the next and met a ferryman. In time, Siddhartha would join the ferryman and find more pleasure living in the river. He found the threshold to have more beauty than the destination. Siddhartha found peace and enlightenment by studying the river and helping others cross over. Most of his truth was found in the river. In the threshold as opposed to a destination or need for a new label.
I spent a lifetime trying to find a space a belong and placing my life and my relationships into categories that made sense. The truth is, I have found my space for now to be in the river, in the threshold. A space with no labels, no definitions and no plans. A space of acceptance of the flow. The river is not the in between, it is the river. Others can build their bridges and ride their ferry, but there is joy here. There is peace. There is no need to define friend, lover, enemy. There is no good and evil. There is just the flow.
In the threshold and the river I have learned that there are some things that do not have definitions because not only are they too beautiful for convention, but words are limited and can never communicate the wonder. I can never explain some of the things I experience well. Letting go of the idea of plans and definitions have made the world more amazing. Enlightenment is not something that can be described. The joy in what some call liminal is seeing that the river flows out into lakes and oceans only to be returned by the rains and melting ice of mountains. Life and death and pain and pleasure and happiness and sorrow and good and evil are so beautifully interwoven into the current and there are so many more lessons to be learned here.
The truth in liminal space is acceptance without plans or agenda or definitions...merely wondrous acceptance. For now, there is no threshold to another space, there is no shore. There is only this space and I still have lessons to learn here and I like it here. The truth of liminal space is freedom from the shores and destinations.
As you cross the river, think kindly of the ferryman and know that he loves where he is at. He used to seek shores and plans for contentment and now enjoys the Liminal River.
Friday, April 22, 2016
|The Comfortable Doctor|
Thursday, April 21, 2016
|Sloop of War|
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Friday, April 15, 2016
When the storm passed I removed the canvas and was amazed what I put together held. The next morning I came outside to see how everything was and saw what you are seeing now. She let me come in close and take several shots like this that day. For the remaining time the family was on my balcony, I was allowed this close.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
|Beautiful Storm Clouds Against the Light: Life's Contrast|
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Portable wonder will keep your bag a little fuller in an empty day.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
|Stop and Breathe|
Auntie Mame once gave the world wisdom when her character told us that, "Life is a banquet and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death." We are starving with a feast before us.
The feast that we miss can be anything we are not stopping to take in or embrace and do. In this case, dusk was about to start and the lovely lights of the tower came on. My kid and I stopped because it was such a cool moment, everyone else is on their way to something. Here we are in one of the world's vacation capitals and people are huffing at me for stopping to look at something. They brought their iPhones, tight schedules and stress with them.
There are sunrises and sunsets to see, porches to sit on, hammocks to lay about in, wine to drink, movies in parks, plays and musicals with someone who turns your head or even a good friend. We live in one of the richest countries in the world and have some of the most diverse and robust variety of landscapes to view and we are blind to it all.
Somewhere, elk are cooling off in a lake wanting to amaze you, an ignored mountain is just sitting there (as it has for a long time) waiting to be looked at, a used bookstore or an antique shop is waiting for a treasure hunter to find something wonderful, and a park bench needs someone to keep it company and relax. There is so much right about us that we do not see.
If you are stressed. If you are confused. If you are so full you do not know which way is up and when the to do list will ever end. Stop and breathe. Then look around and see the beauty and the wonder that you were made to feast on. The work and the life will be there. But it is easier to do work when you have feasted and rested.
Don't work hungry, take in life.
Monday, April 11, 2016
I like who my friends and dear ones are. They respect me and accept me as I am and I do them. They have earned the right to give me criticism when they think I am going in a bad road and they have earned this right through love and acceptance.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
"Do you believe in luck?"
I stared across the table at the young man asking me this question. It was a job interview. "Luck?"
"I'm Irish. If you read a history book you will see luck is not our forte'." That was all I could come up with.
"Not Vegas luck. I mean luck."
I looked at him and thought. I gave the only response I could.
"This scar, I am fortunate I did not lose my finger. This one was from getting stabbed. I'm still alive due to skilled EMT and ER staff. I have several other scars and surgical wounds. All have a story.
I believe that when bad things happen to us, they could have been worse and we can learn from them. I believe that opportunity surrounds us often and we all too often do not recognize it. I believe love is more important than money, but I seem to be lacking in both.
But luck? What is that? A mystical force that looks out for some and ignores or even punishes others? If there were such a thing, I would want no part of it."
"So um..." He stammered. "You don't believe in God?"
"God is luck?" I asked.
We would move on to other matters in the interview and luck was forgotten. I'm trying to figure out what the right answer would be in an interview regarding luck.
My answer seemed to change the dynamic and tone of the conversation. It is hard to explain.
The incident did get my brain churning. Is that the idea of God some have. Good luck and bad luck? When is luck good? When a bad thing does not happen or if we survive it? Who decides which luck is good or bad when the story of our life is not finished? One of the scars I showed him almost killed me and has left me with a lifetime of pain. But it was also a turning point in my life. It was a wake up call for a better life. So some would call it bad luck and I would have to say it was a damn good thing. Is his version of the god of luck dependant on individual interpretation of events or peer review? If luck is bad, is that just life or is there some way to win lucks favor?
All I know is that this whole luck thing sounds very complicated and I don't understand the rules. I'll just keep being grateful and seeking opportunities. If something goes wrong, I'll try to learn from it and accept what happened.
Don't know about this luck.
Friday, April 8, 2016
|Alleys and Shortcuts|
I have grown up predominately in the Joliet area. If there is an alley or a shortcut in Joliet or Lockport or other area communities, I know about it and often use it.
Shortcuts in life can sometimes be useful. Sometimes it can be dangerous and foolish. Sometimes it can rob you of the beauty of the "proper" route.
Alleys and shortcuts are not always bad. In this case, the alley can get me to other shops without having to go around the block. If I know what I want, this is great and efficient.
If I am new to the area, I miss the exploration and the wonder of all the unique and charming stores in the downtown area.
We all want to get to where we are going swiftly, but there are times where the journey is as much the part of the story of life as the destination. Why would we want to rush a good story? We could miss a lot.
It's kinda like sex. There is a time and a place for just getting right to it, but there is also a time for dinner and a walk hand in hand with flirtation and then unhurried foreplay to make the experience part of a larger story. There is a balance and there is a time and a place for both.
Our lives are constantly written autobiographies in real time. When you know the story you want to tell, you will know which path to choose and when.
Know when to take the long route and know when to take the alleys and the shortcuts.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
|The River Flows|
As I travel down the river I can see the beauty of life, take in the scenery, delight in life and relax in the journey. When I let go of the plans and the control and work with the flow, I actually go somewhere. I move forward. I am refreshed and not exhausted.
The river flows regardless our wishes.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
|The Magic Inside|
I did not have a tripod with me when I took the night shot, so I had to use railing and a steady hand and hope for the best.
I have been to the Magic Kingdom 4 times. I miss it terribly and used to tell people that when I am there, I am at my happiest.
It turns out, there is a hidden truth regarding this sentiment. As wonderful as Disney is, it is not their magic that makes me happy, it is the magic inside.
In my life, I have been happy at Disney World. I have been happy when in a relationship or on a date or making love or seeing my kid do something amazing and so forth. The laughter, the joy and the happiness came from within me. I do not need to travel to Florida or have a candlelit dinner in a restaurant I can barely afford to find what is within me all the time.
These wonderful settings and beautiful spaces and moments give permission and invite what is already inside to come out. But I learned this last day that I can find that happiness in the midst of the struggles of life. I do not want to go into details, but this last day was really hard. In the middle of it I realized I could not change a thing about it. What I could do is laugh and have fun anyway. I determined to enjoy the moment and that is exactly what I did.
In the midst of a hard day I laughed and was whimsical. I had fun and enjoyed life. It was intoxicating. At the end of the day I had a migraine and the end result was what I knew the day was going to be, but I found the magic inside.
We will not always give that part of us permission to come out in a hard day. Most days and most circumstances, the surroundings will not invite the wonder to come out, we will have to give what is within permission to come out. When we do, there is no way to stop the magic inside.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
A few years back when my marriage first crumbled and I no longer lived in the place I once called home, I did not tell anyone. I just kinda went silent. I grabbed my iPod and ear buds and went to the river walk. I sat on a bench and just looked at people as they walked their dogs, fed ducks and held hands. I had the music on loud enough to feel it but not drown out the sounds of the park. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I did not have to turn around to know who it was. The only person who would know where I was. I smiled, felt the weight leave my shoulders and knew that I it was going to be okay. Not that day, but someday. I was not ready to talk. I just wanted to sit and watch the people walk by. Alone, but among. I was at peace.
As I get older, I have gotten a little wiser. I do not only go to these spaces when I am in crisis mode. I go to them to stay relaxed. I learned this from my trips to Colorado. To walk about a lake and take in the mountains and the beauty of it all, not to deal with a crisis, but because the beauty and the serenity is there and I can be at peace.
Here, I do not have mountains or lakes with elk bathing in them. I do not have gas stations down the hill serving burritos for breakfast. I still have my music and the riverwalk. I have the noises of the river stream, the ducks, the chatter of people milling about, the smalls of local restaurants, trees and flowers, and I have the music to create a mood. I can find a space to sit and take it all in.
The current generation needs neither a Walkman or an iPod. A phone with earbuds has the music they desire. The park, however, still has the people, the dogs, the ducks, the smells, and the background noises. The more things change, the more some things stay the same.
The music and the serene settings do not remove the mountains in life. The situations do not change. The struggle remains. What changes is us. We find a respite and when we stop spinning and breath, we meet the moment and accept the beauty. The churning waters of our hearts are stilled.
For some we find peace in nature, for others music, some need a nice drive. Whatever it is that you do to find peace regardless the circumstances, make some time. Still the waters.
In those moments, we are at peace.
Monday, April 4, 2016
|Generations and Traditions|
Pass some traditions on to the next generation. If you have no traditions to pass on, create them together. It'll be mighty craic.
Saturday, April 2, 2016
"Your smile does not touch your eyes lately."
"I've never seen your eyes so alive."
"Please don't get into with that man. I can see it in your eyes."
"What's wrong. Your eyes."
"I don't like what I see in your eyes."
This is how I know when someone has gotten inside the circle. They can see what is inside through my eyes. It is scary when that happens and I realize that they are in. It is also a relief because I feel safe.
When we care about others, when we love others, we can look into their eyes and know what is really going on no matter what mask we wear to hide the truth of our hearts. They do not see the color of our eyes when they love us, they see behind the eyes and into the soul or heart.
There is one in this universe who does not even need the eyes. I can send a text saying I am fine and the person will tell me I am a terrible liar. The connections that run that deep is a story for another day. Today it is about the eyes.
When you live a life that is hard and have been a lone for most of your life, being able to be seen and known is something you long for, but when it happens, it is unnerving. It shakes you when someone knows what is beneath the mask and accepts it.
How can they? How can they not only see, but dare to accept? Your whole life you have been seen as worthless or bad or less and someone sees what is really there and accepts it. To be seen and to be known and to be accepted. The wish of the heart swiftly becomes the fear of the reality in a moment's notice. The moment of recognition.
To be known is to be loved and to be loved when you have never been loved is terrifying. We may want to reject that being seen even though it is the deepest yearning within us. Part of it is because we have had nothing but a life of being abandoned and hurt. Part of it is because every dream ever had slips away and turns out to be a lie. It may be that we believe the narrative that we are less.
When we know that we are recognized, we need to embrace it. To reject it will drive us deeper into the hole. In last week's entry I told you about a day when a friend over coffee told me that I was getting dark and she was scared. She could see the pain in my eyes. I wanted to embrace the concern and have her help lead me back to the light. To accept the love and the friendship and take the lifeline of compassion offered before me, but I was scared. So I held her at arm's length. She knew too much and saw too much and she was right.
Then came the night that the isolation consumed me.