Friday, October 29, 2010

dating myself.


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.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

vitality, life force, quickening...

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"

happy friday!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

exhaust the primitive.

meridian hill.

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

simply sadie.

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

artist statement.

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

see you saturday!

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.