Journal

one word for 2017

“When you are joyous, look deep
into your heart and you shall find
it is only that which has given you sorrow
that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again
in your heart, and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
― Kahlil Gibran

 

I was given my word for 2017 while doing dishes. My mind wanders a bit when my hands are occupied; I make some of my best art when my body is moving on autopilot. It is a luxury I rarely enjoy, thanks to my physical limitations.

I don’t remember, four months later, how I came to the word. It was all very rambly, I suppose. It is one of my favorite things to feel my way from one topic to another color to this feeling. At the end of the process, however, I had a word that stunned me with its strong voice:

“DELIGHT”

I spent 2016 searching out “NOURISH” in the midst of extreme stress (a cross-country move and another physical collapse), I thought I should give up on words, but these yearly words are for me what David Whyte calls a “beautiful question,” a thing that keeps me connected to my self and to others around me.

So I walked into this year with “delight” – as my word at least, if it didn’t quite fit my mood or my experience, and here I am in March now, wondering if I got it wrong, wondering if “delight” is possible for me, wondering where to begin now that I am determined to begin again.

I have a sense that my questions are much more than the word, and that the word itself may be the answer and not the question. I am willing not to ignore it, and to say it out loud, and perhaps I will be able to face it a little more in the coming weeks, to pause with it and lay aside my anger at being made vulnerable.

I have been here before, and birthed hope and dreams and a change in my life. I don’t want to be what I was before then. I’m just not sure how this new journey will change me.

 

Are you reading here and feeling similarly about something in your life? Do you have a word for this year? What “beautiful question” keeps you real? What makes you vulnerable? What does “delight” mean for you?

 

 

“…So the ability to ask beautiful questions, often in very unbeautiful moments, is one of the great disciplines of a human life. And a beautiful question starts to shape your identity as much by asking it as it does by having it answered.

“And you don’t have to do anything about it. You just have to keep asking. And before you know it, you will find yourself actually shaping a different life, meeting different people, finding conversations that are
leading you in those directions that you wouldn’t even have seen before.”― David Whyte

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a re-beginning

I don’t know how to begin this post. I don’t know where it is going either. I have so much stopped up inside me lately, it feels brave (and a little stupid) to attempt to put words to it. I’m sitting here with all these windows open on my computer, editing a photo here, culling something there, responding to an email over here, adjusting a playlist there. I am nervous. I am not usually nervous to talk about how I feel, but I know it’s a bit audacious of me to put my feelings out where others might see them now. Before, when I blogged, I didn’t think about it – but I didn’t know how many people might not want to see or acknowledge that I was alive. I was really lucky. Some really incredible people received my words and my heart and still peek into my world every now and again to let me know they remember me.

It is easier not to blog right now. Not to write down things that have hurt me, not to dwell on dreams or plans or any vision for anything but what is right in front of me. Not to make time for words that might make my feelings more real, not to let anyone past the fragile veneer my art offers as a cloak some of the time.

But I think I don’t need easy. I think I need to re-begin the hard work of existence here, to re-try being a person in a world that isn’t begging for me to show up.

I’m thinking I will make a series here, starting with a deep prompt about direction from my photographer friend Christina. I need forward movement again. I need to stop being afraid of my own voice, to see myself believing in myself enough to push “publish” and live out loud in the world again, introvert or not. I may even make time to share my work here again, keep puttering with my website and make a place for it to live a little beyond my delivery archives. I have lookbook goals and printing goals and publication goals and thoughts about new ways to do better work and to collaborate with new people and have the business I want to have that doesn’t look like everyone else’s business. I have a word for this year (I know that is so out now), and it matters to me, and I want to explore it in writing.

I need to say words for me again. I need to stop being silent and letting everyone else tell me who they think I should be. I want to make art for me again. I want to be here at my blog again, even if nobody sees me or reads what I have to say.

If you’re reading here and I’m not just writing into a void, leave me a note. Tell me what it is you need today. Tell me why you need it. Tell me why you’re telling me. Tell me what brought you here. Let’s be people together in a very big world that often writes people off with its spinning.

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i don’t want blogging to be dead

i logged into my feed reader this morning to find… nothing. it made me sad. i used to love reading most of these blogs every day, essays and updates and inspiration from everywhere. i don’t blame people for not posting. even my own blog has suffered as i have tried to do something bigger than i am. you end up having to let things go, even if you’re just living your normal life.

i wish i could just hit the brakes on all the things right now. i want to make the world slow again. i think we did more as people, because we weren’t so busy being… well, busy all the time. i think moments and relationships were more meaningful. so were holidays.

but even i don’t sit down very often and live into my life. my kids are a force, the older two doing school and making friends and the littlest one being a full-time two-year-old. i like them. they make me crazy. i try to teach them how to lead meaningful lives and not just go from one thing to the next.

i bake bread for them, and i use my crockpot three times per week. i light candles into chaos and i try to think about words i would write while i am doing dishes. i want to write poetry again. i don’t believe i have it in me anymore. everything is “yes, no, we’re not going to do that, we need these groceries, clean up after yourself, do your chores, please just leave me alone for a little bit…”

Technically, i am taking some time off from my business over the holidays, but it’s not really time off. i’m actually working on a personal project that is very close to my heart. i’m trying to decide if i could publish a real book from this shoot. i don’t even know where to begin. i don’t know who i could hire to help me begin. it’s funny realizing how much i need others to help me achieve my dreams now.

proper capitalization will probably be important if i want to get any words published. except here. i can do what i like here, and i’m going to keep trying that. possibility, my friend sarah, says. here’s to making possibility, and to making a life right here inside it.

nourish – the stories

 
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“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die,
we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”
― Sue Monk Kidd

I am not just a photographer. I’m a storyteller. My pictures begin and end with story. But it seems that in making a business, I’ve forgotten how to find the story. I have been trying so hard to make it up that I haven’t been able to see what is already there. I’m so afraid the stories have died for me; I don’t want that.

I don’t want to waste my life on acceptable words. I don’t want to say things that the rest of the world has already said. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time with meaningless chatter meant to create SEO rankings, get a post up, fill a page.

When I come here, I want to say real things. I want to spin stories here like morning spider webs with words and in pictures, and I want to open out my heart because the silence is too lonely. It is time for me to tell stories again, no matter how embarrassed or vulnerable or dramatic or tired I feel. I want this place to be rich with inspiration, not just for my readers, but also for myself, so that on the days when I doubt myself, I can be reminded that I am bringing beauty to the world.