Monthly Archives: March 2008

Anne Lamott and Elizabeth Gilbert

from the airplane, Virgin Islands Canon Rebel Xti

I had the pleasure last night of seeing two of my most favorite authors on one stage. If you are familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Lamott you know what a thrill this was! I was first amazed at how big the theater was, packed to the gills with three thousand women. (A male friend of mine would remark, Dude, you could smell the estrogen!) But really, it was so wonderful to be in such a big room with so many women… sharing something so difficult to put into words, an invisible something that connected all of us about the experience of being women and human and wanting to be connected to something spiritual/creative/bigger than us.

Everything they said was wise, moving, funny and smart… and I devoured every single word, listening for that one thing that I came for, what I needed to hear.

And there were a few stories that stuck. One was a story that Elizabeth Gilbert paraphrased from a book she had read recently. The question posed was about living in the now and this writer responded that living in the now is overrated and unless you’re a yogi or a monk, pretty much impossible for us regular folk. He said that possibly, the key to a happy life is about having great memories to look back on and great things to look forward to. So take lots of pictures and make lots of plans!

This is how I’ve tried to live for some time, but hadn’t put it into words quite so well. I’ve always believed that we need beautiful images of our lives because it helps us to craft the story of our lives. When I look at my photos, I see that I have had amazing adventures, that I live in a world of color, that there is beauty everywhere, that my dreams are coming true, that I am loved. My photographs reflect back a story that inspires me.

Making plans for the future gives you a different quality of life in the present. When I know I am going on a trip next week or next month I feel so differently about today. Having something to look forward to gives you a giddiness about life, an excitement about what’s to come, and can shift our experience of the now. I have a few fun travel adventures planned for this year, and just knowing they are coming gives me a joy right now that is such a gift. (Hello Squam!)

Take lots of pictures and make lots of plans. This is so doable, right?

(As I type this I just saw that Tracey posted about exactly this on Shutter Sisters! Great minds… and by the way, the new Superhero Photo Challenge is up and don’t miss the beautiful photo and essay by Jen Lemen)

Ben mandals and other pleasures

Ben, Berkeley, CA Canon Rebel Xti

Things to celebrate and enjoy:
Ben’s first new pair of mandals!

If my husband’s art group Rebar and Superhero collaborated on a project, it would certainly be this.

This funny, moving and passionate Ted talk by Isabel Allende

The Weepies new album will be coming out April 22nd! I have heard it and it is beautiful.

Another fascinating and inspiring Ted talk by Jill Bolte Taylor

Completely mesmerized by the photos in this project: The Ones We Love (via Maile)

media cleansed

Matt and Andrea, field of yellow, Half Moon Bay, CA Canon Rebel Xti

Matt and I have been on a media cleanse for the last week. This means that we didn’t watch any television or movies and did minimal email checking, internet surfing and phone calls. The purpose of this experiment was simply to have a consciousness around our habits, to see what the impulse was to plug in, what drove the habitual (sometimes obsessive) behavior. What was the feeling that preceded the moment when I would reach for the tv, the internet, the phone? was it loneliness? boredom? What was so scary about simply being in the moment I was in? I was also really curious about what would show up in the space where those other things were.

Let me begin by saying that I am amazed at how much it changed our lives in only one week.

Matt and I have been complaining for the last two years (since we moved into our house) that there is no room for a dining table in our home. (We actually have a dining table but we use it as a work table in the office) We complain about this problem regularly and are a little embarrassed to have people over for dinner because it means we all have to sit on the carpet around the coffee table.

After a mere two days of no tv, we had a major revelation. It occurred to us for the very first time that if we got rid of our television we would have plenty of room for a dining table. How did this not even cross our minds before?! The matrix had us!

We sold the television yesterday to our neighbor. As radical as that would have sounded last week, it was the easiest choice in the world. We are giddy with the thought of our new living room and all of the beautiful meals we will have, the friends we will sit and drink wine with at our new table, and most importantly, the attention we will have again for each other. It’s a whole new life, truly.

Honestly, I didn’t think I was such a tv or internet junkie until I put in on pause for the week. I was amazed to see how much time I spend keeping up on things that aren’t ultimately very important. I am feeling cleaner somehow, more grounded, less cluttery in my mind, more together… like my life is more in line with who I want to be, and how I want to be living my life. There is more music and less noise. Both in my head and in my home.

This week I created more time to breathe, more room to think new thoughts and more space to be creative again. It turns out I am full of ideas, projects, paintings, poety. I am full of homecooked meals, homemade blankets and spontaneous dance parties. I am full of backgammon and scrabble, wine with good friends and hikes in the woods. I am full of dreams and travel and books I want to write.

Did any of you join me in this little experiment? What did you discover? Not to overstate this, but I discovered a whole new life that was right under my nose all this time. I am very excited about it.

media diet

strawberry truck, Highway 1, Half Moon Bay, CA Canon Rebel Xti

I’d like to invite you to join me in a little experiment.

For the next week I am going on a media diet. From now until Sunday, March 23rd I am hanging some pretty fabric over my television and I’m not going to watch any shows or see any movies. (The true test will be on thursday night during Lost!) I am also cutting myself off from my usual habit of obsessive email checking and mindless meandering throughout the web.

The problem is not tv, or movies or the web. There is a lot to enjoy in all of these media. There is a lot of great entertainment and gorgeous works of art. I will not tell you to kill your television. (Although more power to you if you do)

What brought this on? you are probably wondering. Mostly, it is because I feel overwhelmed. I’ve noticed that my mind is cluttered. I feel scattered. I feel a bit low. I feel exhausted. I have defaulted to tv and the internet for the easy fix. But my sense is that it is costing me something too.

Like I said, this is an experiment. I am looking forward to seeing what shifts for me in simply having a consciousness around these habits. I am not necessarily looking to change them permanently, only to see what shows up in the space where those things were. Will there be more music? books? Will we play board games? write love letters? take more walks?

Who’s in with me? We can all report back next Monday.

Superhero Photo Challenge is up

Jonatha Brooke, Adagio Hotel, San Francisco, CA Canon Rebel Xti

My new Shutter Sisters photo challenge is up! Hope to see you over there.

inspiring bits

Ben, Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida, Canon Digital Rebel Xti

Ben, Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida, Canon Digital Rebel Xti

I’ve been feeling a bit quiet these days and without words to share. I keep setting out to write something here and stop… and then I wrote something the other day and then my browser crashed and it evaporated.

And so I offer some places to go that have inspired me this week:

This video will have you laughing out loud…. it is the sweetest thing ever.

Karen Maezen Millerhas been interviewing some truly inspiring ladies this week. And my dear friend Jen interviewed Karen on her blog as well.

Superhero colors in yarn

For those of you who are curious about Ben’s little sun protection suit, check out the No Zone site. We borrowed this one but I think I’m going to have to take the plunge and get one for him soon. He loved it and we didn’t have to slather him in sun cream.

more girly time

Jonatha Brooke, Chrissy Field, San Francisco, CA Canon Rebel Xti

I am officially the queen of the girly getaways! and continue to be blessed with the sweetest invitations. My friend Jonatha flew in from nyc to do some recording and stole me away for a couple of days. It was so much fun to vacation in my own city, go out to a beautiful dinner and stay at a hotel, wake up and have the best cappuccino in town.

Jonatha Brooke, Chrissy Field, San Francisco, CA Canon Xti

Friendship has become a theme for me this year. It is something that is sustaining me at a time when I often feel depleted. I always get new breath and joy from my girlie tribe. Swirly and Denise pretty much sum it up here. Next time we’re totally lip-synching.

playing it safe

Ben, Palace of the Legion of Honor, SF, Canon SD1000

This is Ben yesterday at the Palace of the Legion of Honor. On the other side of the camera is me, trying not to have an anxiety attack as he gleefully runs across the marble floor. I try to push away the images of him, careening across the marble, face first.

I am a hoverer by nature (from a long line of hoverers) and I am fighting my hovering instincts. You’ve got to let him fall! they say… and I know this is true. I love watching those totally relaxed moms who seem totally cool with the falling thing. You can tell they have struck a balance between preventing the truly dangerous happenings and also allowing the more minor ones. I want him to learn about the boundaries of the world, when to slow down, the laws of physics. More importantly, I don’t want him to be afraid. I want him to trust himself and his body… and so I am learning to suspend my own fears and trust him too.

Ben, on the pavement, Berkeley, CA Canon SD1000

As soon as Ben started to walk (and fall) I have been fighting my instinct to stay close, hold his hand, prevent each and every tumble. I know this is not how I want to be… or how he wants me to be. He is very independent and shoves my hand away whenever I try to help. Stop slowing me down mom! Sheesh! and yet, when you see that wee boy face plant on the cement, his fat little lip stained with fresh blood, oy… it’ll do you in. This motherhood thing is not for the faint of heart.

There are ways that I hover over myself too, not wanting to fall (or fail, which is the adult equivalent to falling, right?) I see how I limit myself, how I want to keep everything contained and safe, to keep the anxiety level low. I can also run the risk of keeping the aliveness level low and the joy level low too, living in a comfy little plateau phase where everything is lukewarm and predictable.

How do we create that balance for ourselves too? Where are we willing to take risks with our bodies, our hearts, our egos? And where do we play it safe? Are you willing to jump out of a plane but couldn’t imagine asking that hottie out on a date? Are you willing to speak up at work but not in your home? Are you a powerful warrior mama but afraid to share your art? Are you afraid to sing out loud?

Where do you play it safe? and where can you allow yourself a little tumble or two?

Squam Registration begins soon!

Ben, Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida, Canon Digital Rebel Xti

Just a quick transmission to let you guys know that Squam Art Workshops registration opens tomorrow, March 7th! I am getting more and more excited every day… and know that a lot of you want to be there, so get your forms in as soon as you can. (For those of you who haven’t heard about this, I will be teaching a class there and would love to meet you!)

And for those of you who really really want to be there, who know this will be a gift for your soul, and exactly what your creative heart needs, I encourage you to ask not, Can I do this? but How can I do this? How can I make this work? Sometimes our default is to put the kabosh on ideas and forget how possible they really are…