Onward into the Spring of 2020

Spring during the time of coronavirus.  I find myself with all sorts of mixed thoughts.   I’ve been immersed with work stuff, reorganizing closets, the kitchen, buying a new mop to tackle the floors, Zoom gatherings, webinars, etc.  Here in the 23rd day of “shelter in place” what seems to comfort me the most is sinking into meditation, dancing ever so gently to soothing tunes, walks in the Presidio, and communication with loved ones.

And yes, I take deep breaths as Stephanie Ruhle, anchor on national television, reminds us all to do and to remember that we are all in this together.

I look for small victories.  Walking is such a healing act for me.  Yesterday I laid on green grass off a walking trail.   I let the earth hold me as the sun was drenching me with healing energy.  On another walk in our hood, I photographed David, above, walking into what looked like an abyss.  It was dusk and the sky was a companion of sorts with its lingering colors.  It renewed my hope;  just like the rain showers do by nourishing our lands.

I realize how it’s okay to be in a state of unknowing and to relax my self-judgment.  Whatever I do is okay and as I maintain my own courage during this time I am able to extend my service to others.  I do wellness calls to those in need for The Friendship Line.  The service offers “a friend” to mostly seniors – and anyone mentally or physically handicapped.  I learn so much from my callers. By providing active listening skills to their needs,  I am reminded of my own vulnerabilities.

I remember the wise words from a healer years ago – be brave.  Better yet, be braver.

I’ve held on to that.  Keep moving, pushing, relaxing, just being.  And stretch – not only my body– my mind and heart.  Always there is a new trail that keeps opening me to new vistas, new learnings.  Elizabeth Gilbert said recently –to feel with your heart and cultivate with your brain.

I am new every day.  My camera treks where I do.  Companions all around me.

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Zigzagging into the Roaring 2020s

I photographed this image of myself last June.  It was the day before I suffered a pulmonary embolism. (a blockage in the lungs)  One out of three people dies from embolisms.  Mine peaked in a swollen leg.  I had walked five miles on that day and was feeling fine.  The next day my leg began to swell. 

I wound up in the hospital with a clot in my thigh and, because I had fainted at home, a CT scan revealed a piece of the clot had traveled into an artery in my lungs. 

The docs were miffed.  I was an active person. 

They monitored me and eventually took me off estrogen (hormones) – the power drug for women that helps with skin, joints and brain health.  I was on the medication for 22 years.  One risk was clotting.  The docs halted that medication and six weeks later, while my heart was healthy, my knee became stiff from an old injury and basically collapsed. Rehab began and remains a very slow process.

On that fateful walk, as I approached the word heal on the sidewalk before me, I placed myself into the image and photographed it.   Somewhat of a foreshadowing – being blood red and reflecting my shadow back to me.  I was feeling the impact of the image on my being.  I didn’t question.  I just kept moving.  My body took over from that point. 

I was soon forced to realize the impact of that message.  I made changes.  

I retired my 35-year-PR career and stepped fully into my true calling – my art/my photography.  

I am recalibrating.  I’m anchoring myself into a safe place where I go inward and feel the unsteady essence of who I am and what’s to come.  

Luminous Emptiness.  To quote the Buddhist view…” nothing is permanent or fixed.  The entire world of our experience is constantly appearing and disappearing at every moment.”

My dream, my life, is my work.  I move with mindful physical ease as I greet this new year with camera in hand, and begin to step further into a deeper work full of purpose and service.  I was given this gift of seeing beyond through a lens at age 13.  It’s been patiently waiting for me to fully embrace it.  Respectfully I do now, with gratitude and confidence and uncertainty and unknowing.   I am alone and I am in the community of a family of friends.  I walk ever so gracefully.   

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Textures of Life

I was gifted tickets to the Symphony yesterday and reminded of another huge presence in my life.  Music.  As an artist, I have loved so many genres of music and feel so grateful for digital access to almost any artist or tune I seek.  This concert was to be San Francisco’s Symphony Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas’ last concert prior to undergoing surgery before returning for his final season next year leading up to his retirement after 25 years.

He conducted Mahler’s 9th.  No intermission.  And I understand why as I was being transformed through each of the four movements.  The last one, Adagio, was weighted…“Grief gives way to peace, music and silence become one.”

I’ve always believed life is textured;  and as I learned early on about texture in photography, I became more aware of how this word so brilliantly illustrates movement in all areas of my life.

I am teaching a Mindful Photography class at a hospital where patients, (clients) can heal through various methods of occupational therapy.  We spent one entire class on texture and how it layers our world.  I suggested to the students to open their eyes further to feel and soon see how texture reveals itself through various forms.  As I walked home afterward I passed this amazing tree trunk just whistling through to me of its multi-layered texture.  I think of what this magnificent being has endured.  And how in its evolving age is still shining brightly through its passages of life.

It beckoned me to approach and raise my camera to photograph.  My heart was and is still full.  Yesterday at the concert I was reminded of the parallels of music and photography.  Both frame my life and cause me to stretch deeper into the creative process.    And, as a teacher, to pay it forward, purely and simply.  Such abundance abounds.

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The Darkness of the Morning

I make my way into the darkness of the morning –  it’s 4:20 am.  I have been writing and writing and writing.

In the darkness of the morning, I feel the aura of the unknown. I welcome its mystery.   I reach for my trusty oh-so-classic, weighted-by-its years laptop.   It sits on a pillow on my lap with blanket and cat bordering me.

Cat duties done. Coffee made.  I am here with my blank palette to spout where I may.

What is this luscious landscape I’ve embraced?

I awaken to the force of this new day as I write my first thoughts.

In the darkness of the morning, there is possibility. There is newness – an untapped potential of whatever I wish.

I gaze at the blackness outside the window.

Dark.

Sip coffee.

Back to writing –

Darkness triggers my mystic. It gives me permission to dive into the parts I treat sometimes as wickedly demonic.   Just write. Let the words be my shelter on this page of a new day.

Again, I look toward the window and notice that the

dark is becoming gray-like.

Coffee is also in the middle ground – lukewarm yet still beckoning me to sip.

I feel my own wholeness in these moments. I am free of judgments and self-critic banter. The page is my partner to this momentary evolution – a discovery trek to acknowledge and articulate the composition of the inside layers of my divine self.

Cat growls.

Time to stretch, meditate, make my daily call to my 94-year-old Mom. We chitchat and talk of nothingness. I treasure her acknowledgment of my voice.  “Hello, Susie.”

The vibration of her voice nestles inside of me.

I hold the sounds of her lingering words ever so gently.

Heartthrobs.  Hands to heart.  Breathe into that feeling of pure mom love.

I know these calls will soon fade.

Just as I know

there will be a new day

every day.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Exploration of Everything

I am everything.  Before you behind you all around you and most important inside of you, I rest.
I am exploration.  I am your journey to places you have been and those you’ve yet to tap.
Don’t give up on me.  The blur is merely a veil.  You must look deep inside to all the parts calling you.
You will find the way.  You are meeting your light.  Look for me in those not obvious places.  Dive into
unknown parts you encounter.  Be uncomfortable.  Notice the detail. Continue to be discerning.
Be aware.  Always seek.  Hold strong as you cradle the gentleness.  Your calling is before you.
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This is What’s Up

Rain this morning.  Delicious.  Now the sun.  It makes me glow.  Heightened awareness.  Okay so what’s that about….oh I just had an epiphany yesterday and suddenly — profoundly –realized in a somewhat much clearer way than ever before….that all I need to do is show up for me.  No matter how desolate things can be, no matter how tremendous the challenges of every day health, work stuff, relationship fluctuations, etc etc etc  — My real work is simply me.  And once I put that front and center I truly believe I can do, achieve, create whatever I intend.    It’s freeing to live in accord with my own true self.  This is where I begin front and center and this is where I may serve through my art.  May I open my heart wide to those closest and those on the street — to begin again and again.

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The Mighty Sea always changing

The mighty sea always reminds me of beauty and turmoil in my life.  Life’s been bumpy what can I say;  however, it’s surrounded by puffs of grace and so much gratitude.

I pulled this photo out this morning and my heart skipped a beat.  I suppose it always does when I am able to view this kind of image through my camera lens.  It reminds me of the layers of my own life and the need for pauses.  Our self-care is ramped up here in our household to balance out the complexities of everyday life.

What is it about extremes I go to when I slip down the rabbit hole and do the internal scream….”Hold on”…or as Mary Oliver so beautifully articulates….”Mend my life.”   Yeah…that pretty much says it all.  The best part is knowing that the bandaids are close by and at any time I can access my internal garden I’ve tended too so much in the past.

As I edge toward summer I wave goodbye to the windy days of spring and the somewhat unsettling times it has brought me.   I’m an evolving modern elder moving into unknown chapters with glee, expectancy and always…the love of the sea.

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A New Year to Mark

I tend to make intentions rather than resolutions these years.  I do keep the list and reference back and am happy to know I met my challenges and goals and oh sure there are those that fell to the wayside.  That’s okay.  It’s all okay.

A highlight of last year was being trained as a Friendship Line volunteer to answer calls from mostly seniors who basically need a friend on the other end of a line.  I have one amazing 96- year-old-woman who regularly states her wish at this stage of her life is to keep learning and to keep reaching out to make new friends.  She lost several of her best buds last month and I can feel the heaviness of her heart as her voice quivers talking about their treasured times.

And then there’s a young chap making his way through his disability and still holding hope high in each of his days.   He shares his poetry with me.  We laugh together, trade stories and basically feel a human being right there through a telephone.

This year I want to keep showing up and stretching and moving to the rhythm of what is before me and inside of me.  I’d like my art to take a dive into a new layer in my heart perhaps to reveal a hidden landscape.  Wonders abound.  It is a New Year.   

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Shifting days temper my moods

I realize just as I started settling into the hot sun on my bare legs and I embraced a more accepting demeanor riding the bus with other sweat-bodied individuals – I was forced to shift yet again with the arrival of the fog-filled air. I was so getting comfortable with those stretched-out Indian summer days. Alas, I can always count on the “time to shift time” peeking up to keep me vital.

I was on assignment to shoot the Baraka Gallery in lower Fillmore and I found the weather’s warmth became my companion as it challenged me to dive deeper into the crevices and artistic settings of the African gallery. My fingers walked through a book on Niger and the artifacts that decorated the community of the dark-skinned people. I discovered an enhanced sense of sprit and decorum that rippled through the pages on to me, the viewer.

All around me my senses were being activated by art through books, jewelry, clothing, blankets, and, as a highlight, a stunning man’s tunic stip weaved on hand loom with hand embroidery of the Wodaabe People Niger.

Truly art is everywhere embedded in our cultures.   Daily I create more spaciousness to nourish my art.  I am more accepting of its mystery and its darkness that emboldens me.   I was recently reminded I need to get serious about taking myself more lightly.

So here on this Un-Monday, I am doing just that.

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Staying Inspired to Speak Up

My first photo essay column on Medium.com on the impact of Gloria Steinem’s actions and words. I shot one photograph 45 years ago and the others a few months ago. Her impact remains powerful. Thanks for taking a look and following me for future words.

Gloria Steinem’s Indelible Impact on Me

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