Category : Refocus

Our splinter group of Shutter Sisters is continuing our new tradition of sharing 10 photos on the 10th of each month. We started with sharing 10 photos from our time together in Tofino, then followed that up with 10 festive photos enjoying the holiday season. This month, with the new year upon us, we decided to focus on “restart” as a theme.

As I’ve said before here, I do love a fresh start, a clean slate, a new page on the calendar. So, how have I been I been restarting this year? First, the holiday decorations were carefully put away…

600-Color_Vintage-Ornaments_rsThen new words, new sources of daily inspiration have been sought. Although secure is my word for 2014, “ease” was in the running for quite some time. Ease is another one of my core desired feelings and I am inviting it mightily into my year and my daily life. Interestingly, I am seeing how secure embodies and allows for ease. 

Ease_rsMy ritual of morning pages and journaling continues to sustain me and provides a secure foundation from which to enter the world each day…

Trust-Process_rsAs does recommitting to my self-care and getting back on the mat. I took a candlelight yoga class for the first time this week and it was divine…

Candlelight-Yoga_rsAnd last, it wouldn’t be winter in the Midwest without a little snow, restarting my appreciation of the seasons and their secure rhythms…

Snowing_rsThat’s what my “restart” to 2014 looks like so far. You might be saying, “What?! Wait! There’s only 5 photos here! Where are the other 5?” My answer — they haven’t unfolded yet. And ordinarily, I would have frantically taken 5 more photos to make sure I had 10 to share — after all, this IS a 10 on 10 post! But, I’m restarting. I’m allowing ease into my life. I’m feeling secure in my work and who I am. And so, I’m staying loose, and letting 5 be okay this time around.

To keep the blog-hop going, click on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her 10 on 10 to restart this new year!


Friday, January 10th, 2014 15

Happy New Year, friends! Hello, 2014!

It’s a brand new year. A clean slate. A fresh start. I love a new beginning and over the past few years, I’ve really sunk into choosing one little word to guide the year ahead. I’ve enjoyed the process of reflection, looking back at the year that is passing, and then dreaming and setting intentions for the year that is upon me. Choosing a word for the year is one of those intentions for me. It is making a deliberate step into the life I want to be living. It is the start of a conversation with the Universe, putting out there what I want to manifest and bring into my experience. It is a mantra, a centering presence in my life that helps me remember my path and stay the course when the swirling and cacophony of life gets too loud.

My word for 2013 was forward. This word served me well in so many ways. Forward beckoned me time and again to put one foot in front of the other, to take my creative journey and professional life day by day, to keep doing the work. This word reminded me that when life felt challenging, when I stumbled, when I contemplated throwing in the towel, that I simply needed to dust myself off and keep going. Yes, forward was a perfect word for this past year, and I realize I will be carrying this word forward into the year ahead as a supporting word given how much it still has to teach me.

PX680_CP_Day202As 2014 eeked closer and closer to dawning, I contemplated a number of words to be my beacon for the year ahead. During our Tribe retreat this past summer, we spent time exploring our core desired feelings using the work of Danielle LaPorte. I knew that one of my core desired feelings was likely to be a frontrunner for my 2014 one little word. If these words represented the very essence of how I want to feel every day, how could one of them not be a logical choice? Two words, two of these very core desired feelings, kept whispering to me. They both felt good in their own ways. But…they felt kind of blah, too. I have to admit I get pulled in to wanting my word for the year to be sexy or pretty or flowy. You know, words like “soar,” “thrive,” or “shine.” Many of my dear friends have chosen these very words and they are so lovely. And my words…aren’t. My words seem to be practical, pragmatic, sensible. They aren’t the dreamy and magical, sparkly kind of words. So once I accepted that my words are important to me for their own reasons, and that it doesn’t matter that they aren’t shiny words, the blah concerns moved on. And after sitting a few days with both words rattling around my heart and soul, one took root.

SECURE

My one little word for 2014 is secure. As one of my core desired feelings, I have come to learn the importance of this word and this feeling for me. Secure means being grounded, rooted. I want to stand tall, firm, true in my creativity, my photography, my professional life, and my relationships. Secure is staying on my own path, trusting my own process, and exiting the “breathless race of comparison” and external validation. Secure reminds me that the Universe is unfolding as it should — that everything I want, all that I’m dreaming and longing for, is already in process. It’s already happening. Secure shows me that I am safe and encourages me to feel ease, free of anxieties and worries. Secure bolsters me in my knowing that I can weather any storm, any challenges, any obstacles that come my way. And last, secure means “to procure, obtain.” I want this year to be the year I secure a publisher and book contract for the work (words and photographs) that is unfolding in 365 Impossible Self-Portraits, and secure solo gallery shows to exhibit the photography. Secure is layered and rich, and I invite this word in all its meanings into my life. 

So today, this year, secure will be my guide.

Do you have one little word for 2014? I’d love to hear what you chose (or what chose you) and why that word resonates for you. I truly believe in the power of our intentions.


With 2014 quickly upon us, I’m dreaming. I’m reflecting back on 2013 and looking toward the year ahead. I’m mulling over my one little word to guide me during these next 365 days. And as I do, I’m holding Mary Oliver’s wisdom close, hoping to be like the crows with each new ethereal dawn in the coming year.

Spectra_Softtone_Double-Reflection

Landscape by Mary Oliver

Isn’t it plain the sheets of moss, except that
they have no tongues, could lecture
all day if they wanted about

spiritual patience? Isn’t it clear
the black oaks along the path are standing
as though they were the most fragile of flowers?

Every morning I walk like this around
the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart
ever close, I am as good as dead.

Every morning, so far, I’m alive. And now
the crows break off from the rest of the darkness
and burst up into the sky—as though

all night they had thought of what they would like
their lives to be, and imagined
their strong, thick wings.


Monday, December 23rd, 2013 0

During this overly busy time of the year (for many of us), it may feel unthinkable that you could do something for yourself. But today, I want to remind you that we can only be our best selves when we are in a good place — emotionally, physically, spiritually (broadly defined). I want to whisper in your ear that it’s okay if you take a break. You can sit for a moment in that patch of sun and catch your breath amidst the swirling of the season.

PX70_Cool_QuiltSofa_rsI’m over at Mortal Muses today, encouraging us all to take a moment for ourselves. I hope you click HERE to check it out.


Friday, December 13th, 2013 0

Last month on the 10th, I shared 10 photos on sisterhood taken during my retreat with a group of fabulous photographer friends. That post marked my first of our group’s launch into 10 on 10. On the 10th of each month, the group of us are doing a blog-hop, sharing 10 photos on a theme or taken on one day or event. This month’s 10 on 10 has us working on the theme of “festive.” With Tony and I headed to the tree farm, selecting our holiday tree, and trimming it this past weekend, I thought of no better opportunity than to shoot our weekend shenanigans for my 10 on 10.

It was freezing, quite literally, this past weekend with temperatures hovering around 1 degree Fahrenheit (-17 Celsius). While I had hoped to take some Polaroid photos during our adventure to the tree farm, I knew there was no way that was going to happen as instant film does NOT like the cold. So I picked up my long-neglected digital camera, and off we went. (As always, you can click on each photo to see them larger!)

Yonkey Pine_rsYonkey Pine Tree Farm is a sweet, family-run operation in a small Nebraska town a bit south of us. On the years when we aren’t traveling back “home” to the East Coast, Yonkey Pine is where we get our tree, selecting it from the rows and rows of scotches and firs, having it cut fresh right before our eyes.

Tree-Sign_rs

Tree Farm_rsTo our dismay, the farm had been pretty well picked over. With Thanksgiving falling much later in the calendar this year, and with beautifully mild temperatures two weekends ago, it seemed like all of Lincoln (if not all of Nebraska!) had already beaten us to tree hunting. In looking over the few trees that remained amidst all of the stumps, we chose a lovely fir. And, a fresh wreath for our front door.

Wreath_rsTony and I got the wreath hung and the tree in its stand just in time to head to my holiday party with students and faculty. The trimming would have to wait until the next day.

Fire_rsWe awoke to snow coming down, made coffee, and got a fire going. After some reading of the Sunday New York Times, we got down to business.

Vintage Ornaments_rsParker, being of no help, settled in next to (aka, practically IN) the fire, his favorite winter spot in the house.

Parker-Fire_rsTony strung the lights, and then we sorted through our collection of ornaments. Coming across Ripken’s dog bone ornament from his first Christmas with us brought a pang to my heart. We still miss him every day.

Ripken Ornament_rsAfter the tree was trimmed, it was time to get working on writing the holiday cards.

Holiday-Cards_rsAhhh, a festive weekend indeed.

Tree-Blur_rsTo keep the festivities going, blog-hop on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her festive 10 on 10!


Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 14

Messenger by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

PX70_Opa_WindowBerries1_rsThank you, friends. Thank you for coming to my corner of the world. Thank you for sharing in my creative journey. Thank you for reading my words. Thank you for being interested in my photography. Thank you for cheering me on. Thank you for your kindness and generosity of spirit. Thank you for really seeing me. Thank you. I am so grateful for you, this community, here at Life Refocused. xoxo


Thursday, November 28th, 2013 0

Sometimes it is difficult to step back and take a look at the big picture. It’s especially hard when the flu catches us by surprise and knocks us off our ass for a few days like it did to me this past week. When work deadlines loom, family obligations and other to-dos pile up, or you aren’t in love with your new haircut, yeah, it can be hard to embrace gratitude. But having a nudge, a gentle reminder to go wide with our view of ourselves and our lives can be a game changer in the way we feel.

hearts_rsWe might see that love is all around us if we just look for it. We might be reminded of the fullness in our lives and so much more. I’m over at Mortal Muses sharing a bit more gratitude through my lens. I hope you click HERE to check it out.


Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 2

I’ve written before about my longing for connection, for kindred spirits, for sisterhood. I’ve shared with you my loneliness of living in an unfamiliar place, of having a small circle of local friends. These longings and loneliness have propelled me to go outside of my comfort zone and outside of my own town. These feelings have given me the push I needed to create communities of connection, to seek out kindreds and sisters. This began by attending retreats and gatherings, and doing so helped me begin to meet “my people.” From there, smaller groups of sisterhood were born.

One of these groups evolved from attending two photography retreats hosted by Shutter Sisters. While attending the second retreat with about 80 women last October, a small circle of us found ourselves at dinner enjoying margaritas, raucous laughter, and each other. As we ate and drank and carried on together, we birthed the idea of splintering off and creating a smaller creative community for ourselves. Within the evening, the Canadians in the bunch decided we would descend on British Columbia for our inaugural gathering. Over the past year, we stayed connected, made plans, rented a house, and bought plane tickets. And a few weeks ago, our idea manifested itself.

Many dreams and projects were shared during our time with one another. One of those ideas was that the group of us would dive into the 10 on 10 project, sharing 10 images shot on one day or in one experience on the 10th of the month. As our first post for 10 on 10, we decided we would each share photos from our time together in BC. Without further ado, here are my 10 on 10 from British Columbia and this magical retreat that was born of kindred spirits coming together for sisterhood, photography, and self-care. (BTW, you can click on each photo to view them larger!)

Paparazzi_rsIt didn’t take long for this group of photographers to whip out our cameras and start shooting. I think we looked like a group of paparazzi the entire time we were together. After taking the ferry from Vancouver to make our way to Tofino, we stopped at Cathedral Grove, an old growth forest with trees older than 800 years. The massive trees were amazing and the light among these old beauties was nothing short of magical.

Through-Trees_rs

Web-Flare_rsAfter our three hour drive, we arrived in Tofino, our home away from home for the next few days.

Tofino-Sign_rsAnd this was the scene RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR.

Flops-Ocean_rsOn our second day, we ventured to some natural hot springs, a journey requiring another boat ride to get there. Being out on the open ocean, we were surrounded with beauty in every direction. The mountains, the ocean, the fog…breathtaking.

Out Boat Window_rs

Cherish_rsThe small cove that houses the hot springs gave us more opportunities to capture the natural beauty that is British Columbia. I had considered not bringing any cameras with me that day as rain was in the forecast, but fortunately I brought one. I would have been so saddened to have missed this reflection shot.

Tara-Reflection_rsAlthough we had an epic storm come through, and I do mean EPIC, we were blessed with many moments of sun and gorgeous weather. And this crew of women did not disappoint with the COLOR that they packed to wear.

Boots_rsAmidst the shooting, the relaxing in the hot springs, and the indulging in yummy food and deep rest, we deepened our friendships with one another. We shared our work, told each other our secret (and not-so-secret) creative dreams, and opened up about our struggles. Indeed, a new sisterhood was born in British Columbia.

CoralBabes_rsAlthough we’ve been home for only a few short weeks, I’m already missing these sisters. I’m grateful for our ongoing connection and I’m so excited about the new adventures we have in the works. Thank you Cherish, Corinna, Debra, Lindsey, Tamar, and Tara — stay loose. xoxo

All of my photos in this post were shot on 35mm film with my Canon AE-1 using either Fuji 160 or Portra 400 film. The film was processed and scanned by Indie Film Lab. I have Polaroid photos to share with you from the trip and a few more 35mm pics, too. In the meantime, head on over to Lindsey’s blog to see her 10 (or maybe more) on 10 of our BC adventures!


Sunday, November 10th, 2013 14

“Be taught now, among the trees and rocks,
how the discarded is woven into shelter,
learn the way things hidden and unspoken
slowly proclaim their voice in the world.
Find that far inward symmetry
to all outward appearances, apprentice
yourself to yourself, begin to welcome back
all you sent away, be a new annunciation,
make yourself a door through which
to be hospitable, even to the stranger in you.”
– Excerpt from “Coleman’s Bed” in River Flow by David Whyte

Exp-600_Orange-Doors_rsI’m over at Mortal Muses today announcing our November theme. I hope you click HERE and come and join us this month.


Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 2

As I was traveling last week, sitting at the airport and ending a phone call with a friend, I looked up to see a life-sized blur of pink walk by. I did a double-take to fully realize what I had seen. There, in the middle of the airport on a busy Thursday, stood a grown man wearing a pink body-suit, pink bike shorts, pink VANS, and a pink feathered boa around his neck. It being October, I had a sneaking suspicion that his attire was all about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I felt so inspired by his strength in wearing full-blown pink, TO TRAVEL, that I had to go say hello. And ask him if I could take his photo.

This is Andrew. His mother is a breast cancer survivor of 8 years. He shared with me that for the past few years, he’s been dressing up in pink as many days in October as he can to show his support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Andrew said this year marks his first as having enough in his wardrobe to wear pink EVERY DAY in October. We chatted a bit about his mom, my own cancer story, and the importance of prevention and early detection. I told Andrew that I admired his courage and passion to so publicly embrace his own awareness campaign of wearing pink every day for 31 days. I asked if I could take his portrait and he graciously obliged. And then, we were off on our separate paths.

PX680_CP_AndrewHowever, Andrew and his story stuck with me throughout the day. His groundedness in who he is and what he believes in was, IS, striking. I truly admire how comfortable Andrew is in his body, his identity, his beliefs, to go against the grain and the norms of masculinity to wear bright pink everywhere he goes for a month. He sincerely inspired me and I know he inspires most everyone he encounters. Meeting Andrew reminded me that life is short. He reminded me that THIS, right now, THIS is IT. He reminded me to take my life by the horns and ride it for all it’s worth. He reminded me to embrace every moment. To live bold.


Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 6