Monthly Archives: September 2008

all you need

Nina’s feet, Squam, Canon Rebel Xti

“Your treasure house is within; it contains all you’ll ever need.” -Hui-Hai

I see you

Kirsten Crilly, Squam, Canon Rebel Xti

My favorite Squam story was from the very first day. The students hadn’t arrived and registered yet, and Jen, Jonatha and I were at the town general store getting sandwiches for lunch. After ordering at the deli I turned around to see a pretty little face behind me. (The one pictured above)

“Kirsten!” I exclaimed.

But wait, there is a wee bit of back story. Kirsten is a superhero journal reader. She is also a blogger and has written me some lovely notes over the years. Before I left for Squam she wrote me the kindest message with the subject line should words fail me. She then shared what my blog has meant to her and what it means to her to meet up in person. I was moved, and made a point to go to her blog and get her name down perfectly. Kirsten, not Kristen. Kirsten, Kirsten, Kirsten.

When I saw her at the deli I recognized her immediately.

“Kirsten!” I exclaimed.
Her eyes immediately flooded with tears.
“You know my name…” she said.
And then my eyes flooded with tears.
“I see you… I know exactly who you are.”
And then we hugged, and cried.

I get very moved every time I share that story. It encapsulates so perfectly the experience that most of us have of feeling like we are not seen, that are voice doesn’t matter, that our presence is inconsequential.

I think it is tempting to use this gremlin as a way to not express ourselves in the world. Why bother? we think. So and so has already done it, or done it better. Who cares what I do?

I still think this thought almost every day.
Who gives a sh*t what I think? No one wants to hear what you have to say… the gremlin growls.

But here’s the big secret:
We ALL matter.
Our voices all need to be heard.
Our art needs to be seen.
When we don’t show up at the meeting, at church, at the party, people notice and they wonder where we are.
We are seen and known.
And our stories need to be shared.

and the winners are….!!

Kelly Rae, Stinson Beach, Canon Rebel Xti

Here are the winners! If you are listed below, please email me ([email protected]) to get your book. If I don’t hear from you within a week or so, I’m going to pick another lucky winner.

Angie, who said “Fabulous photograph and lovely post as always. I would love to read Kelly Rae’s book.”

Chloe, who said, “My wings have been a bit damaged in the past, I long for them to help me to take flight…”

and Paula Hardesty who said, “Kelly Rae is truly a wonderful soul. She makes me smile with delight and I just can’t seem to get enough of her fabulous paintings.”

Kelly Rae is taking flight + GIVEAWAY!

I wish I could say I took this fabulous photo, but it was our superstar photographer Boho Denise who did the honors. Isn’t it a perfect portrait? I love the beauty, romance, sass and strength she brought out in my friend Kelly Rae. Wow, right?

Well, if you don’t already know, Kelly Rae has a few superpowers herself, namely creating gorgeous paintings and inspiring us all with her soulful writing. In her first book, Taking Flight, Kelly Rae talks about “getting our wings” as artists and our journeys in getting there. The book is doing SO well, and is #2 in the creativity and genius section on Amazon. So proud of you Kelly.

As she and I flew together to NH last week for Squam, I interrupted our conversation as the plane was just about to take off. “I love this part!” I gushed and proceeded to look out the window and ignore her, feeling the thrill of the plane pinning my head back to my little airplane pillow. Little did I know (until a few minutes later) that this was the scariest part of the flight for her! and was using me as a distraction…
Me: But we’re Taking Flight Kelly!
Kelly: I know! It’s scary!

We then mused on the metaphor of Taking Flight and how some people love the thrill of that leap into the unknown and for some it’s a white knuckle type of journey. No matter how it is for us, we can all get there just the same. If you’re thinking about taking flight into a creative life, this book is a perfect companion.

We will be giving away 3 copies of the book! Just leave a comment on this post and we will randomly pick three lucky winners. (Just push “post” once and wait a moment. The comment should appear)

Giveaway Guidelines:
-You have until 9pm PST on Monday, September 22nd to enter this giveaway.
-Just make a comment ON THIS POST to enter.
-One entry per person, please. (Just push “post” ONCE and wait a few seconds. The comment should appear)

What Ben was doing while I was away

Thank you all so much for your stories… I am taking some much needed rest this week, sleeping a lot and reading your comments, feeling more and more sturdy in my soul. Thank you…

messy magic superhero life

me and my lifelines, denise, jen, thea, (my other lifeline Jonatha taking the pic) Canon Rebel Xti

I think Ben felt it before I did. The anxiety I mean.

I was rocking him down to sleep the night before I left and it took hours. I missed him so much already and I kept squeezing him and whispering I love you Ben. He started repeating it back to me in the same whisper, “I love you, I love you, I love you…” If he was trying to make me stay, he was doing a really good job of convincing me. It was 10pm before he fell asleep.

I was very excited to come to Squam. When Elizabeth asked me to teach early this year I was ecstatic. Even though I had never taught before it was an easy yes. It felt like the next big step for me creatively, professionally and personally. So what if it was a little scary? I was totally up for the challenge, and I would have my awesome ladies right by my side.

I could never have predicted what actually happened. I was having the nervous jitters on our layover in Phoenix but it was all very manageable and normal. My nervousness kept amping up though and by the night before the first class I was in full blown panic mode. My heart was racing (as was my mind) and sleep wouldn’t come. By 3AM I was shaking from cold, sick to my stomach, throwing up, heart thumping out of my chest and WIDE awake. All night I kept thinking, if I can just get to sleep, I can teach tomorrow but I never did.

I had never had a panic attack before and honestly I had no idea how horrible they are. (My heart goes out to anyone who has ever experienced this) The heart palpitations, the nausea, the vomiting, the shaking, wondering if it’s ever going to end or if you’re going to survive. Mix that with being away from home, away from your family in a bed out in the woods. (Oh yeah, and the teaching 6 hours a day for the next three days.) I have never been so afraid. Thank god for Jen Gray who stayed up with me, drew me a bath, explained what was happening to me and that I wasn’t completely insane.

My angel girl Jen Gray, red coat in the woods, Canon Rebel Xti

This went on for almost 3 days and nights. It was like Groundhog day. Every night it would come back again and I would think, I just need to sleep… and of course I wouldn’t. At that point I was so scared of the panic that it would double back on itself and the cycle would continue. (I can see those of you who know this experience nodding in agreement)

What it took for me to show up to class those first couple of days was nothing short of superheroic. I have never been one to compartmentalize (in fact I am used to using how I actually am to help further the conversation and intimacy in a space) but I knew that I needed to show up for my students and bringing my drama with me wasn’t going to serve any of us. I went into full blown coaching mode. This is the space of managing what you are bringing personally (your stories, your struggles, your boyfriend just breaking up with you, whatever) and just being totally present for the person you are working with. It is about being laser focused, and completely listening and serving the person in front of you. It is 100 percent not about you.

Teaching became a kind of meditation. I loved every minute of it. I loved hearing the students share and unfold, I loved seeing them play and take portraits of each other, I loved seeing them get to know themselves and each other more deeply. What an honor, truly. We laughed so much and got to see one another as well as experience being seen.

Jonatha Brooke with a wig in the woods, we had some very silly fun, Canon Rebel Xti

And as if that wasn’t enough, there happened to be a piano in our classroom and we closed every class with Jonatha singing a gorgeous song. I wish all of you could have been there…

Jonatha at the piano, Canon Rebel Xti

The evening before my final class I was walking by myself and had my first good thought of the week. “If I don’t sleep again tonight it will totally suck, but I’ll be able to teach either way. I’ve proven that. We’ve had two amazing classes and I haven’t slept at all. I can do it on empty. Everything is going to be okay.” And with that, I felt lighter, and I think I began to breathe again for the first time in 3 days. This thought set me free. I guess you could say I did the proverbial letting go we all long for.

I am still figuring out what this experience has to teach me. I know it is complex and rich and ultimately good. But right now I am still sitting with the grief of it, making peace with the ways it didn’t turn out how I had hoped. I am having to forgive myself for all the ways I wanted to be but couldn’t. I am making peace with a new kind of vulnerability. Letting my friends and my community see me when I was at my messiest and most broken was incredibly hard. I am lucky for who I have chosen to surround myself with.

And that means you too.

I was blown away by all of you who were there. In a lot of ways you were representing this community as a whole, and I am in awe of who you all are. Even if I didn’t meet you this week, I know better who you are and I look forward to the next opportunity. You were a safe, strong circle for my maiden voyage. Thank you…

Superhero class, Day 3 on top of the mountain, Canon Rebel Xti

Happy Birthday Boho!

Boho Denise, beautiful on the dock, Squam Lake, Canon Rebel Xti

I’m back from Squam. There is so much to say, I hardly know where to begin. It was one of the hardest experiences of my life, and also one of the richest and most amazing… I am having trouble crafting the story of my time (even in my own head) going between these two opposing forces.

A bit more sleep will help.

In the meantime, gaze upon this beautiful girl. It was her birthday yesterrday and I didn’t get to give her a squeeze. Happy Birthday Denise! You are deeply loved.

Little boxes

Kim and me, shooting a wedding, Canon Rebel Xti

I just grabbed the title from Brene Brown’s latest post, little boxes. I love what she wrote about the boxes that we put ourselves in and how living outside of them, how living authentically and vulnerably can be scary.

She asked her readers to fill in the blanks and I’d love for you to do the same:
Sometimes it’s hard because I am _______________________, but I’m also ___________________________.

Mine is this: Sometimes it’s hard because I am a mom, but I’m also a painter, a wife, a jewelry designer, a writer, a photographer and a life coach.

Sometimes I wish I could just pick one thing.

I have this fantasy that if I could just finally pick that one thing, then I could be masterful at it, an expert, not this jane of all trades half-ass person. That’s my box. My gremlin that tells me that if I could just FOCUS and be one thing, then I would be successful, happy, and really good at something. I would finally be doing it RIGHT.

I had a reading with my tarot reader Lauren recently and posed this question to her. “Do you think I should just finally pick one thing? I have like five jobs and I’m going a little crazy.” Part of me wanted her to just tell me what to do, to say, The cards are telling me that you need to let go of ______ and just do _____. This is your surest way to joy and success. But of course she didn’t. Instead she said, “Actually, you are really good at juggling all of those things. You love them all equally, and you are amazing at weaving in and out of them. At best, I think different things will be more of a focus at different times of year.”

In the end, she is right. I wouldn’t be happier doing just one thing because I would miss being all of my parts. Do all of your parts get expressed in your life? Is your dancer, your lover, your painter getting any airtime?

Last night during my Nia class, the words Nothing is wasted got stuck in my mind. As I searched for what it meant to me, I thought about the class I am about to teach at Squam. I thought of my gremlin voices that criticize me for not having lots of technical expertise when it comes to photography, or not being a master coach, or a black belt at LIFE or whatever. But in that moment I could see something clearly: Nothing, no experiences or education, no twists and turns in my life have been wasted. Everything I have ever loved or experienced will make its way into this class. Even my limitations will serve me… (Have you ever noticed that there is a freshness, a creativity, a beginner’s mind quality to people who don’t know the “right” way to do something?

I was suddenly filled with compassion for myself, and for all of us who are questioning ourselves and our paths, wondering if we blew it way back when or should have studied this or that, or wasted our time doing x, y, and z. Nothing is wasted dear people. We can use all of it. And if we can be masterful at anything, it’s being ourselves.

I plan to do that this week.

Off to Squam!

Me and Ben, Lake Merritt, photo by Bethany, Canon Rebel Xti

Dear Ben,

Hello adorable boy! I miss you already in anticipation of my week away at Squam. (Insert little heartache for mama) The good news is that you have a rotating roster of your favorite people that will be here to play with you and care for you. You are going to have so much fun! But for those moments when you’re wondering, where the heck are mama and dada? I just wanted to tell you that we will be back very soon and at that very moment that you are thinking that question, we are thinking about how much we love you.

I will be teaching my first class Ben! I have never taught before and I am excited and nervous… Jen and Jonatha will be with me though, so how bad can it go? A bit of advice, if you are doing something scary for the first time, it’s a good idea to have a coupla pals with you. Just sayin.

I will be going to something like girl camp, complete with art classes and bonfires and music and lots of laughter. It is going to be the life-shifting, creative-sparking kind of fun… my favorite kind. I will show you lots of photos when I come home.

And you won’t believe this, but Dada is going to be in the Venice Biennale this year! He will be going to Venice, Italy and will be honored for some of his amazing art projects. This is a big deal for him and a big celebration of all of the work he’s done over the years. Go dada!

Did I mention how adorable you are these days? You have some new obsessions worth noting: bikes.
You call them “butts.” You talk about butts constantly. Mama butt. Dada butt. Ben butt. And the ball love affair is a constant. You would sleep in a sea of balls if you could. Today at the toy store, you picked out a ball that you wouldn’t let go of. It was huge and bright lavender and had pink butterflies all over it. It was funny to watch myself pick up the more boyish, blue soccer style ball and offer that one up, and of course you were like Whatevs mom! This one is way better. And you were right.

Oh, another obsession: Elmo.
Yep. I said it.
We hesitated for a long time to bring him into our home, but I found a used dvd and couldn’t resist. I think I had some sick curiosity if every kid was crazy for Elmo or if you would be immune to his high pitched voice. Within minutes of watching that show you were already saying “Elmo.” It was a little scary. Then you talked about him constantly for weeks. Every time you got up, Elmo! At the park you would try to leave and go home to watch, you guessed it, Elmo! When you were getting your diaper changed, you would ask the inevitable question: Elmo? You were way obsessed.

So we took Elmo away for a while and you were VERY very upset. Every time we said no Elmo, you would cry and cry and cry… We told you that Elmo was on vacation. And even though you eventually made peace with it, weeks later you still talked about him. You’d wake up from a nap and shake your head and say, “No Elmo, No Elmo.” We were even hiking once in the woods and you pointed up a hill and asked, “Elmo?”

Anyway, we totally cracked Ben. We couldn’t stand it anymore and now Elmo is back from vacation. And you are deliriously happy again. Your little red friend is back! We even ordered a set of dvds. (This is one of those moments Ben when you think you’re going to be one kind of parent and you end up another kind.) Seriously dude, whatever brings you that much joy, who am I to stand in the way of it?

Anyway, thank goodness you still like guitars too.

Oh, and one more thing Ben. You are totally a ladies man. When you see the girls at the park you walk right up to them and try to give them a hug, or you try to back up into them and sit on their lap. You need to work on your approach, but I think you’ve got a good chance. You’re a very handsome little dude.

Anyway Ben, mama is way tired and has to pack.

I love you to the moon and back my love.
I love you more than you love Elmo.
And I know you know that that’s a whole heck of a lot.

Gettin girly

self portrait, Canon Rebel Xti

I was a bit late to the whole girly thing. I wasn’t a tomboy really, just super athletic and not ever really into the makeup thing. Oh, wait, except for that embarrassing period in the 80’s that featured lots of blue eyeshadow and bangs sprayed into a wall jutting several inches off my forehead. You guys remember that, right?

Anyway, I’ve been very minimal about the whole skin care, makeup, girl thing in my adult life. I feel like a 7th grader when I walk into the cosmetics store. I have no idea what the difference is between cover up, concealer and foundation. I’m not sure if I need a lip pencil or an eyebrow pencil or how you remove all that mascara without waking up with dark circles underneath your eyes? Oh, and one more thing. I have never washed my face. Only water in the shower, no soap or anything else. In my own way, I think I’ve been rebelling. (Against the whole beauty industry thing and the way women are expected to dress and pretty up)

But lately I’ve been inspired.

It’s mostly as a result of getting older (ack!) and having my hormones go haywire from having a baby. When I returned from Puerto Rico, where I got lots of sun, I realized that my face had new freckles and dark patches. I was a bit horrified… and did some research. It’s called hyperpigmentation and is totally common as we age but one more reason to keep our sunscreen on. (A friend of mine has the most adorable spot on her face in the shape of a heart)

In honor of my new post-baby skin, I decided to splurge on my first facial. I have to admit, I felt all glowly afterwards. And I totally drank the koolaid on the whole skin product thing. I am now washing my face for the first time since high school! and mostly because she used the yummiest stuff called Eminence. It’s organic and lovely. It is also gently and slowly helping to lighten the darkened patches on my skin. I thought I discovered a brand new thing, but it turns out my sister is also a big fan and my favorite store down the street just started carrying it. I thought I’d share it in case you are looking for a healthy way to feed your skin. I’ve been loving all of the stone crop products and the SPF30 powder is amazing.

Oh, and I just got an eyebrow wax for the first time ever. Not convinced, but it was fun to try. How am I so late to all this stuff? How do you like to get girly? I’m just learning that it can be kind of fun.