Monday, December 27, 2010
shine any way you can.
happy holidays everyone! i hope it's been a good festive time for you all and no one is stranded in airports and if you are stranded in airports that you are talking to the person next to you and finding out that your cousins are best friends and the you have the same favorite book.
it's been a good one here. it's been busy, full of family and food and a good round of trivial pursuit (my brother and i being the winners always makes it a good round). i didn't feel like i fully got the downtime that i've been craving but i figure that can wait until kauaii in just a little bit less than a week! oh my, i am so looking forward to being on that beautiful island with such good people.
so it's the end of the year, which means that i am one week away from finishing up my round #3 with the artist way. i had to answer these questions for this week's activities and i was surprised by how clear i sounded in my answers. the idea of a "creative recovery" is such a big, amorphous one but it's true that i really do see a lot of tangible results and changes and ideas.
five ways i've changed since beginning this creative recovery:
1. i have become clearer, more organized in my creative time
2. i have made self-care more of a priority and seen the massive benefits
3. i have become better at taking little steps toward a bigger goal and trusting in the power of them even when my mind is telling me its pointless (like picking up the book again yesterday when i really wanted to skip these last two weeks)
4. i now more fully recognize the value of having fun and playing
5. i see how important creativity is to my overall health as a person
five ways i'll change as i continue:
1. i'll become more disciplined in giving myself creative time
2. my artist dates will become as important of as practice as writing my morning pages
3. my creative community will become more defined and take on a greater importance in my life
4. i will say "no" more often and with less guilt
5. i will have more energy to do what excites me and to connect fully to the people in my life
five ways i'll nurture myself in these next six months:
1. i'll go to spa world at least once a month
2. i'll sign up for a class on making creative sketchbooks at the torpedo factory
3. i'll make time to practice/give thai massage once a week
4. i will use tuesdays as my time to make art/create and take my artist dates
5. i will go to poolesville, md to see the buddhist temple and to baltimore to go to the visionary art museum
writing these lists down i see that these changes are really not big glamorous things. the artist way is really just about a commitment to doing the things i know make me feel good and help me to go in the direction of my dreams. it's kind of like yoga for me. the more i study yoga, the more i see that this practice is all about learning how to see beyond the negative patterns of the mind and thus connect with the bigger whole of myself. it's all about the practice of treating myself well when my mind is telling me that i am not worth that kind of treatment.
so yeah, it's been a great 2010 and i am excited about the possibilities for 2011. i'm going to do my yearly round-up in the next few days here so check back for that. in the meantime, enjoy this ted talk which made so much sense to me:
Friday, December 17, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
“The Waterfall” – for May Swenson
~by Mary Oliver~
For all the said,
I could not see the waterfall
until I came and saw the water falling,
its lace legs and its womanly arms sheeting down,
while something howled like thunder,
over the rocks,
all day and all night –
like ribbons made of snow,
or god’s white hair.
At any distance
it fell without a break or seam, and slowly, a simple
a fall of flowers – and truly it seemed
surprised by the unexpected kindness of the air and
light-hearted to be
flying at last.
Gravity is a fact everybody
It is always underfoot,
like a summons,
gravel-backed and mossy,
in every beetled basin –
and imagination –
that third eye –
can do a lot but
hardly everything. The white, scrolled
wings of the tumbling water
I never could have
imagined. And maybe there will be,
some slack and perfectly balanced
blind and rough peace, finally,
in the deep and green and utterly motionless pools after all that
Monday, November 29, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
i know i am from my generation because i am always hesitant to watch any youtube clip over five minutes. but i quickly got enraptured by this amazing story of the oldest living holacaust survivor who is just full of love and optimism about life. it made me feel warm inside on this rainy cold day we are having.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
featured teacher: gracy obuchowicz
when and how did you start teaching yoga?i started teaching yoga a year ago when i completed the yogaworks training at quiet mind. before the training i had been practicing seriously for about 5 years and had reached the point in my practice where i was ready to expand to the next thing. there was this small voice inside of me that kept telling me that i needed to teach yoga but i had every excuse for why i wasn't ready yet. but the voice persisted and so i researched trainings and found out that yogaworks was coming to dc for an august intensive. i talked to chrissy carter, our teacher trainer, and she assured me that all of my doubts were normal and that all i needed to become a teacher was to have a strong desire, which i definitely did. i decided to listen to her and took the plunge and have been richly rewarded every since.
i advise them to really regard their practice as a journey. i can do so many things now that i couldn't do before and i know that i will keep evolving in my practice. before i became an instructor i used to push myself really hard thinking that i had to "win" at yoga. i realize now that there will always be things that i can't do and that can serve as the drive that keeps me going. for me, the most important aspect of yoga is taking time to listen to that voice inside of myself, really learning to recognize how my mind works and practicing compassion with myself and the world around me.
do you have any advice for your students on their yoga journey?
what is your teaching philosophy?
my first night teaching a class i was subbing for another teacher and the intern didn't show up. i had been hoping that only a few people would come but over 20 people came to the class that night. i didn't know how to use the computer system so couldn't sign anyone in. worse, i couldn't get the lights to turn on so we ended up doing an impromptu candlelight class. i was so nervous but tried not to let it show and just kept moving forward and tried to remember to breath. by the time i taught headstand i finally started to relax and enjoy myself. it actually turned out to be a really nice class and i figured after that i could handle just about anything when i was teaching.
Friday, October 29, 2010
jack in another form...
this is a picture of jack (who fully owns his name) and what became of the pieces i cut out to make jack's smiling face. i guess that is a sign that i am growing up that it seemed silly to throw away the extra pumpkin. so i roasted the oddly-shaped pieces and the seeds with some old bay seasoning and a spice mix i picked up in isreal and then mixed it together with pasta and sauteed greens from my weekly produce box which comes from the always-charming timor bodega.
i'm also excited for my halloween costume...i'm going to be a jellyfish!
man i think it's been at least 10 years since i've gotten into anything having to do with halloween and i'm not sure what's gotten into me this year. well, i do have a few ideas. i'm doing the artist way program right now (it's an awesome 12 week program that gets you in touch with your creative self). actually, i'm co-facilitating a group of yogis in doing the process. i've done it two times before but never fully finished either time. this time though i have this extra level of responsibility of making sure i do all activities and exercises.
as i've written about before, i like the morning writing part of it and it's been part of my daily practice off and on for the past six years. but there is another part of the artist way called "the artist date" which is much more challenging for me. all it consists of is taking myself out to do one fun thing by myself once a week. it should be easy, but oh my, it causes me so much stress. i can never figure out what i want to do and as soon as i decide i immediately start making excuses about how i really should be writing emails or catching up on working or calling someone.
the first week, i really had to hold myself to taking a sunny afternoon in meridian hill park. i was not excited about it but rather felt something like dread. i packed way too many books in my book bag and as i rode my bike over there, my dread turned to anxiety--kind of like i was going on a first date. but the afternoon turned out to be nice. i read yael flushburg's amazing new book of poetry and lay quietly on the blanket and took some time to examine some leaves close up and flipped through a book of vintage dog photographs that has sat on my desk for sometime. then i got up and went home and wondered what all the nervousness was about.
i've had three dates since then and each one has provoked the same kind of anxiety so much so that i've come to know i am doing my date right when i feel this way. i've figured out that if i am scared, then i am going into vulnerable territory and i think this is what these dates are all about.
but why? why can i have fun with other people and work by myself by not be able to have fun by myself? i think it's all a question of generosity. i am very good at giving to other people. i come from a long-line of people pleasers and have learned well. the up side to this is that i really do enjoy sharing kindness and seeing its effects on my friends and strangers. unfortunately though, the same family lineage is also full of passive aggressive people who don't know the first thing when it comes to taking care of themselves.
my pattern is that i will give and give and give to other people until i felt exhausted. this exhaustion can sometimes turned into a deep anger which wells up in me (people pleasers can't express anger of course) until it comes out in an awkward, inopportune way that leaves hurt feelings. it usually happens with the people that i love the most. yuck.
so the way that i've found to help this is to start taking care of myself in as many ways i can think of and the artist dates are the truest expression of that i can see. i think its scary to me because on some level i'm still not sure i am worthy of all this time and attention and fun. it challenges a lot of the way i have been brought up and is making me change the whole way i do business in my life.
but since i've been making myself push through it, i've been noticing some really nice changes. i've been expressing my emotions in a much cleaner way (nicely worded emails asking for what i need instead of long periods of silence followed by martyrdom) and people have been responding so well to my requests. i've also been noticing that feel like i have much more free time and my prosperity has been kicking it up a notch. (i must share--i actually got a really expensive medical test refunded to me out of the blue today--when does that ever happen?)
so if something about the idea of two hours just for you to get out and take care of yourself each week scares you, then i suggest you give it a try. we all think we have to work harder to change ourselves but i really don't think that is true. we are a culture of over-workers and i don't think we are any closer to enjoying our lives. i think real change comes with incredible self-care and a compassionate curiosity about the way we are put together.
i believe that once we take the time to listen, we naturally know what we need to do. that's the easy part. the hard part is acknowledging that we really do have something to say.
ps: carving jack was my best artist date yet! i felt like i was eight again.
Friday, October 15, 2010
i love this picture of my grandmother.
here are some pictures from the lovely, relaxing week at the beach i took with my mom's side of the family in august. on this cold morning when i am feeling busy, it's nice to look at these and remember.
i was reading this great book yesterday and it said that the root of the work art means "to link" or make connections which reminds me a whole lot of how the work yoga means to "to yoke" or join together. i got a little giddy when i read that.
also, this interview on npr this morning about the actor/artist james franco really inspired me because like him i feel like i am doing 20 different things and want to do 20 more and always feeling like i am being unfocused in some way, but maybe, hopefully, just like yoga and art, i will come to a point where i see that it all connects together.
and has everyone seen this ted talk with liz gilbert where she talks about writing and inspiration? it's a great one to watch when you need to go a little easier on yourself about your creative life.
i can't remember if i have already posted this but i love this quote by martha graham enough that i will risk putting it up here again. i've been reading in my classes this week because i know how easy it is to judge your practice and forget that it doesn't matter what it looks like, it's only important that you do it:
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others"
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
i really dug my horoscope this week:
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): For your assignment this week, I have
borrowed from a list of suggestions offered by Sagittarius poet Kenneth
Patchen in his book *The Journal of Albion Moonlight.* Feel free to
improvise as you carry out at least three. 1. Discourage all traces of
shame. 2. Bear no cross. 3. Extend all boundaries. 4. Blush perpetually in
gaping innocence. 5. Burrow beneath the subconscious. 6. Pass from one
world to another in carefree devotion. 7. Exhaust the primitive. 8.
Generate the free brain. 9. Forego no succulent filth. 10. Verify the
irrational. 11. Acquire a sublime reputation. 12. Make one monster at
least. 13. Multiply all opinions. 14. Inhabit everyone.
and this is a dream come true for me and a big move forward for the fermentation revolution. i love the west coast sometimes.
oh and the colorforms exhibit at the hirshhorn is pretty incredible (especially james turrell's "milk run") and this superflex video about a flooded mcdonalds.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
isn't this child amazing? she has such a powerful, beautiful presence. i believe that babies are actually great teachers because they have such good positive energy and know how to move right through emotions and stay in wonderment. i got to photograph sadie when she was in her mama's stomach and it's cool to see that truly, babies quickly grow and develop into their own people. as well-intentioned adults, we only shepherd the process a bit. ah, the miracle of life.
i'm listening to bessie smith and boombox tonight and into writing things down. the weather has been perfect this weekend and i have moved along to one thing and then another. i took pictures of a beautiful new author and also of a good variety of dogs. i shared food with many people at a canadian thanksgiving and helped film some very interesting canada-themed shorts. i taught yoga to a group of homeless runners and volunteers. i'm learning to see my family as some of the best teachers on this planet and how they can help give me the freedom to love myself if i can stay present. i have been basking in how wonderful it feels to just be honest and trust that it's okay. i have also been spending some time with a good cuddle partner, adam, and am amazed by how balancing it has been for me to be in a such a sweet, fun relationship these days.
i have a little break from my art classes over the next two weeks. i want to spend time writing and sketching and having a good listen to myself this week so i can keep the channel clear and the light bright.
Monday, October 4, 2010
i think she was my favorite.
thanks to everyone who came out on saturday night! it was a magical night and each person there added a special something. it reaffirms my believe in the power of our dreams. i have had that specific daydream for the past couple of years and i'm amazed by how perfectly it came together. it was amazing to show with hope and at the yoga studio, surrounded by great people and raising money for a cause i really believe in.
i think one of the best parts of showing my work was being able to write my artist statement and through it figure out what i have been doing with my traveling and my picture taking over the past few years. i've been really grateful for all the experiences i've had but there have been some days where i've had to ask myself why i can't stay put and put together a real website and be a more "normal" artist. it feels funny to even write that but i think that can be the hardest thing about doing this kind of wandering is that it doesn't take place on the head level but comes straight from the heart. thus, its really important and we don't really know why we are doing it until much later one which left a lot of time for confusion when i wasn't in a good head space.
one of my favorite quotes is by zora neal hurston about how there are years that ask questions and years that answer. i think i'm definitely in answering mode of late but i don't think it could have been so sweet if the asking hadn't been so deep down and mysterious.
here is my statement:
the truth is that i haven’t spent much time distinguishing my photographs from the life experiences that inspired me to take them.
the little girl on the train between berlin and malmo was my first time carrying all of my belongings in a backpack, my journal close to me so i could record it all.
the family in nazareth was when i traveled to a sacred spot for no reason other than a hunch that it would change me in some way. it was back in the quiet stone streets of the city that they rounded the corner and made me miss my own family.
the grandmother with the thick glasses was when i left the ashram near bangalore, to find that i could make myself at home almost anywhere in the world yet still was searching so deeply for something.
for this reason, it’s always been hard to call myself an artist. it seemed like the act of creation should be deliberate whereas i was just wandering, searching, asking, and using my camera to find the answers around me.
now, after years of practicing and teaching yoga i am realizing the importance of this flow. i make my art not to stop time but rather to move alongside it for a while, going deeper into the present moment and exploring how it connects all things. through these photographs i have begun to know myself, the greater me, and the true light that shines there.
many of these photographs were taken in peru where i have lived and traveled extensively over the past five years. i first went in 2005 to work on a documentary about maternal healthcare in the andes and during this time was introduced to the pachamama, the mother earth spirit worshiped by the incans and who is still revered by the people of peru. during this trip, i participated in ceremonies for her, offered her coca leaves and my prayers, and returned home feeling deeply healed.
i was called back again as a peace corps volunteer and later to film another documentary about shamanism in the amazon. throughout it all, peru has become my second home and collectively, another mother to me. i’ve been privileged to know many peruvian woman and am always amazed by their love, resilience, and how they never think twice about offering a stranger a place at their table.
i dedicate these photographs to the woman of the world, the men who are raised by them and that feminine pachamama energy that keeps moving us all right along, exactly on her own schedule.
speaking of mothering, check these guys out.
i like this piece from slate about the creative process a couple who writes and illustrates childrens books.
Friday, October 1, 2010
here are three of the photographs that i am going to show tomorrow night at the yoga activist fundraiser. the theme of the night is mothering and feminine energy. yesterday i saw the paintings that hope hodges is going to show and they are rich with the good womanly stuff. i really hope you all can make it out!
i got so emotional about seeing my photographs when they came back from the framers! my photographs have always had so much meaning for me because they represent all these experiences that i have been so lucky to have in my life but now they are going out to reach a much larger audience and will affect them in their own way. all these little experiences are going to get bigger in a way they deserve because
its funny how you take a step in the right direction and then everything just falls into place. i signed up for art classes at nova and have been lugging a huge portfolio case and getting my hands covered in charcoal two days a week since the end of august. and then i got asked to put my photographs in an art show and another offer to lead the artists way through another yoga studio.
it's big and emotional too. i've noticed that i have some blocks about letting these dreams come true and so much nervousness about not doing it the "right way." but right now i am freshly showered and ready to teach about the artists way tonight and talk about these photographs tomorrow and just take it as it comes, step after step after step on this creative path that doesn't seem to have an ending point.
when i was walking home with my portfolio yesterday, a girl on the street asked me if i was an artist. i had to thinking about it for a second and i got shy and said, "i am trying to be." i'm changing that answer now. yes! yes yes! i am an artist, in all my imperfect glory and willing to put that out into the world for whatever worth the world can find in it.
wishing you all good creative dreams come true and a lovely weekend.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
here are a few photographs from matt and laura's incredible wedding in cajamarca, peru this past june. i didn't officially photograph the wedding but i did manage to take a few pictures that i think hint at the total love and joy that this wedding evoked from everybody. it was such a total marrying of not only two people who really love each other but also two different cultures (there were about 80 americans and 80 peruvians in attendance). i love it that each wedding i go to these days is a little different but each one is so perfect for the couple.
and here is an excerpt from the david foster wallace's commencement speech that he gave at kenyon college in 2005. it's wise, insightful and totally inline with what i think yoga teaches us to do--have a bit of control over our thoughts and use this to give life the benefit of the doubt as much as we can. in hindsight, its also a somewhat tragic speech because he brings up suicide a few times in the speech and then he actually did end up hanging himself in 2009 after battling with depression for 20+ years. still, i think he really does have an enlightened perspective here. it's really good, unpretentious advice for living as happily as possible:
Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.
They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.
And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving.... The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
Monday, September 13, 2010
remember a few weeks ago when corn was super cheap? well, i overbought and saved it from going bad by making america's test kitchen's corn chowder with a few loaves of zucchini bread for a little last-minute dinner party. that was right around the time that i got my 100mm macro lens so the result was some pretty food photographs which i took and promptly forgot about until now.
this last week was busy. i am adding new classes, teaching an outreach class at the really cool breakfast program for the homeless called thrive dc (nicknamed "the 930 club" because they one of the later breakfast programs in dc) and starting back with after-school kids yoga classes at shaw outreach ministries (we had our first class on wednesday and the younger kids were out of control, literally running around in circles, yet so adorable that i couldn't get mad). plus i'm teaching a new happy hour (emphasis on the happy :) yoga class at quiet mind yoga on fridays at 5:15pm.
i'm also getting ready for my first art show in 10 years at yoga district's bloomingdale studio. i am showing 10 photographs along with the work of the amazing abstract painter and fellow yogini, hope hodges in a show called "motherscapes: contemplating the feminine in nature" which opens on october 2nd (come to the opening from 8-11pm--it will be an amazing night).
following in this creative thread, i am going to be a co-facilitating a three month workshop on the artists way through quiet mind yoga along with brandice rodgers where we will explore the connections between creative unblocking and yogic philosophy as a way to live your real life as beautifully and creatively as you do in your dreams.
and i have my art classes which are time-consuming and challenging and totally rewarding (i smile each day when i finally get to nova after my hour long commute because i am actually doing this, actually taking real concrete steps toward this big dream of mine that i can't even quite name but is pulling me closer and closer to something.)
and i am taking pictures (the ethopian family is flying me to atlanta this time for milkey's sister's wedding in november), and cooking healthy food (today i made this fusion green bean casserole/vegan mac and cheese thing that turned out pretty nicely) and keeping up my own yoga and writing practices and cleaning the house and practicing thai massage and spending time with loved ones.
i love it all but ohmygosh, it hit me this week just how much it feels like some times. its such a fine balance between fully enjoying everything i've created sometimes and then others feeling like it's caving in on me because i have spread myself too thin. i was feeling the latter on friday afternoon and it took many deep breaths, subbing restorative yoga and finally pizza and a beer from red rocks to come back to myself.
it was such a relief yesterday when my photo job canceled because of the rain and because i already had my zip car and spaworld groupon that was about to expire, i drove myself out to spa world and spent two incredible hours in the pools and saunas--just me and this body of mine and giving it some space to let its guard down for a while.
i think as a result of that (and tea at the o street mansion with adam and a chat with my incredibly wise friend cj--it was an amazing sunday) today i am centered and relaxed and i feel overwhelmed by the fullness of my life and how it continues to expand and attract the most amazing people and experiences but its from this vantage point that i can really consider the best ways to take care of myself--when i need to say no and when i need to push through and how to not feel guilty for taking time for myself.
the most important thing is living my life with joy. i know this but i forget it when i start to make my decisions based on obligations and what a "good person" should do and then i always suffer. but it never takes too long to come back, especially when i have a good practice, good friends and a dog like this one to hang out with.
thanks for reading this rambling posting! i am going to put up some pictures from kali and trace's wedding real soon. xoxo.