sometimes breaking up isn't hard to do

I don’t want to spend precious time and energy debating the pros and cons of social media.

But, I do want my friends to be able to find me, and it won’t be on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. I'll be here . . . sharing words and pictures, connecting with anyone who writes back.

I’ve never been friends with Facebook or enamored with Twitter. But my relationship with Instagram has been on again – off again.  Just like the dating relationships I had as a young adult, I rationalize why I keep coming back for more.

For me, Instagram makes very little sense. I don’t have a business – nothing to brand or market. Instagram is a drain on my time and after 10 minutes of scrolling even the best photo looks pretty much like the one above it. I counted multiple advertisements in a quick visit today. The new algorithms seem to direct my feed and control the content I view.  Instagram preys on my need for external validation and my fear of missing out. I just don’t have a good feeling about myself when I’m there. I know my time could be better spent doing my daily exercises, reading, taking a walk, preparing a meal, calling a friend.

There are surely good reasons to enjoy social media and maybe there are people who set limits and know how to take a break when it’s needed. Unfortunately, that’s not me. I find moderating my behaviors to be a challenge. It’s easier for me to abstain altogether. (If this notion is new to you, check out Gretchin Rubin’s Are You an Abstainer or a Moderator?)

Sometimes a break-up is a painful experience, and other times, it’s easy to let go because you know it’s time. And it really is for the best.

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the joy of work you love

When I stopped to talk with the baker, I could feel her warmth.

I asked about the bread boards. I admired the fine craftsmanship of the boards, the worn wooden surface, and the pattern of cut marks from serrated knives slicing freshly-baked bread. Her fingers danced lightly across the grain as though caressing a loved one.

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We talked for a few minutes about the life of a maker. I told her I knew it was hard work – baking. And she acknowledged, yes it was. She shared that she longed to visit the bakery as a customer and just sit and enjoy the experience. We talked about the trade-offs when your work is something you love. Less money. More joy.

When I complimented the baked goods and the cappuccino and the lovely ambiance, she beamed. She is a part of this fine business, Sub Rosa Bakery, that makes life better for so many.

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Before we parted ways, she said something simple and profound.

I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

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Wearing my camera around my neck, I said that I feel the same about making pictures.  

As my youngest son prepares to graduate from college this spring, and the pressure to get a job falls upon his shoulders, I wish I could convince him of this lesson.  

Whatever the activity, once we love it, the task opens us to all that is holy and our effort leads us into the flow of aliveness that is within us and around us.
— Mark Nepo, The One Life We’re Given

what fills my heart

My mother is back home on Memory Lane.

The weather is unseasonably warm.

I spend my first free afternoon in a week walking around a few blocks near The Corner Thrift shop.

I don’t see anything beautiful or profound, but I see things that interest me.

I take a few pictures and breathe deeply.

At home, I read a really wonderful blog post by my friend, Cathy.

She shared a quote that sums up my week.

"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one” –Stella Adler
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oh my stars

with a whisper

I’ve been reading an inspiring book, Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon.

I have the wonderful advantage of being an amateur – an enthusiast who pursues her work in the spirit of love, regardless of the potential for fame, money, or career.

Because they have little to lose, amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results. They take chances, experiment, and follow their whims.

. . .

Amateurs might lack formal training, but they’re all lifelong learners, and they make a point of learning in the open, so that others can learn from their failures and successes.

. . .

Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.


I’ve been listening to an inspiring podcast, The Grand Opening, by Seth Godin.

Seth discusses the faulty reasoning behind the notion that we need a Grand Opening for our work. Sometimes we think, “If you can’t have a home run, you shouldn’t even try.”  But we don’t have to launch our project with a bang.

Instead of a grand opening, it’s okay to start “with a whisper.”

“Here, I made this.”

I’ve been deep into an online learning experience from Illuminate Photography.

The Class : Project Development and Fine Art with Deb Schwedhelm

We had an assignment to create an artist statement and our own body of work, a personal project.

I’m showing my work. There’s room for improvement, but it feels good to just start.

 

Little Altars Everywhere

Created during the heart-wrenching season when my mother began her downward spiral, these photographs saved me. My mother has dementia. The added trauma of a broken hip and surgery became the catalyst for a cascade of health issues that sent her quality of life plummeting.

On long days when it seemed all I did was travel back and forth to sit by my mother’s side, to the hospital or nursing home, I found solace and comfort in my photography practice.

Whether coming or going, I took the long way. Driving slowly. Taking different, less direct routes. Weaving along side streets, up one and down the next. Stopping the car, getting out. Walking aimlessly along sidewalks, through neighborhoods, treading gently on garden and forest paths.

At first, I simply took pictures of things that interested me, things I loved. But, as the days turned into weeks and then months, I began to see the whole of this experience, and what I’d been seeking . . . little altars everywhere.

With each press of the shutter, I offered up my prayers.

“Please let her come home. End her suffering.”

Each image is an altar where sacrifice was offered and grace received. These photographs are my epiphany, revealing the essential nature of what it means to live in the world as both beautiful and broken.