Category : Swirling
Life as we know it can change in an instant. I think the events of the past week remind us all of that. As I look back over the past few months, I am seeing ways in which I’ve been reminded repeatedly of this change-ability of life. My favorite film of this year’s True/False Festival, The Crash Reel, was all about the frailty of our human experience and how quickly it all can change. Focusing on the devastating training-run crash of then Olympic-bound snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his slow steps at healing, we as viewers are pulled in immediately to how his life changes 180 degrees in one moment. We are reminded, in deeply affecting and emotional ways throughout the documentary, that each of us is potentially one instant away from our own life-altering moment.
Watching this film reminded me of a childhood friend’s grandmother whose life was forever impacted by a freak, Frida Kahlo-like car accident. I thought about my friend’s niece who almost died this past summer of cardiac arrest at the age of 9. It brought up horrific images of 9/11, Columbine, the tsunami. Memories of countless close calls and near-misses in my own life and in the lives of my friends and loved ones bubbled up. The film reverberated with me for a few weeks as it culled forth my experience of being diagnosed with cancer five years ago and the ways in which that health crisis changed me and my life in an instant. I’m sure as you are reading this, just as I sit here writing, other memories and stories of lives changing in the blink of an eye flash before us.
And while these thoughts can bring about such despair and sadness, this awareness can also remind us to cherish what we have in our lives right now. I remember when Tony and I were going to sleep the evening we saw The Crash Reel, I couldn’t hug him tight enough. I distinctly remember holding onto him as we lay there in our friends’ guest room, thinking how much I love him, how much I need him, how quickly our lives are flying by, and how much I want to keep this moment forever. I recall having waves of fear that this moment, and the next, indeed our fifteen plus years together, will all keep whizzing by, and that in any one moment, something could come crashing in that changes all of it. I can still feel the pangs of guilt I had in knowing I am not always so mindful of this bigger picture, that I’m not always so close to understanding my deep love for Tony and the gratitude I have for him in my life. No, I could more clearly see all the moments I totally take for granted, the times I choose to be on the computer or my phone scrolling through social media rather than talking to Tony about our respective days at work, the times I’m frustrated that he didn’t rinse out his coffee mug (again!), and on and on. And I remember thinking before drifting off to sleep that I don’t want to do that anymore, I don’t want to take Tony for granted, I don’t want to choose to look at Instagram rather than connecting with him, I don’t want to be so frustrated about the damn coffee mug.
But then, that moment was gone. I fell asleep. I woke up the next day, and my life marched on with all its usual distractions, ungratefulness, and annoyances. And then my neighbor was diagnosed with cancer. A wake-up call. And then students at Tony’s high school were in a terrible car accident coming back from lunch. Another wake-up call. And then the episodes of this past week unfurled. More wake-up calls. So I write this post to remind myself to stay awake. To urge my awareness to linger. To choose love, every day. Because life can change in an instant. xoxo
Today is day 365 of my 365 project. But, I needed to write this post for today. I’ll be sharing my thoughts tomorrow on this past year’s journey, and announcing my next project. See you then.
The photo I didn’t take (you can read more about it HERE)…
A few posts ago, I mentioned that I wanted to share with you a great — and difficult — opportunity that presented itself which allowed me to work a bit deeper with my word for the year. As promised, here is that story.
As many of you know, I’ve been working on a 365 project since last April. I’ve been focusing on practicing (my one little word for 2012) my photography by shooting every day, and I’m oh-so-very-close to the finish line of this milestone journey. And while I may not feel totally inspired each and every day, I have been consistently shooting and diligently marking each day with a photograph from one of my Polaroid cameras or my digital SLR. A few Fridays ago, I was running fast and furious — I had my pre-op visit with my surgeon, multiple meetings with students, errands to run, Parker to drop off at the dog-sitter’s house, and packing to do as Tony and I were leaving the next morning to head to Nashville to meet up with some dear friends. At around 8:15pm, as I was sitting at my computer checking-in for our flights, it dawned on me that I hadn’t taken a photo yet that day and that I needed to take care of that. A little while later, Tony got home from a play at the high school where he teaches and I realized I hadn’t eaten dinner yet (hello after 9pm!). So I talked with him, heated up some leftovers, and eventually finished packing. The next morning arrived, we had some coffee while getting our remaining items together, I grabbed some film from out of the refrigerator, and off to Omaha we drove to catch our plane. After making our connection in Chicago and mid-flight to Nashville, a wave of awareness and an immediate sinking feeling washed over me. I DIDN’T SHOOT A PHOTO THE DAY BEFORE.
I felt horrible. Sick to my stomach. Tony was asleep in the seat next to me and I desperately wanted to wake him up so I could tell him that I didn’t take a photo the day before. I realized that was selfish of me and that there was nothing he could do about it, so I let him sleep. But I so wanted to scream as loud as I could that I DIDN’T SHOOT A PHOTO THE DAY BEFORE. I was that upset. I
wanted needed to tell somebody. I wanted needed someone to “talk me down off the ledge.” I was beside myself that I had come this far in the project, that I had only 45 days left to cross the finish line, and I had f*cked up. I was so mad at myself. I felt so stupid. HOW COULD I FORGET? It wasn’t even like I felt uninspired or bored. It wasn’t like I just didn’t feel like shooting something. It was simply that I forgot. It was the mere fault of being over-scheduled, over-full, and maxed out for the day, that it slipped my mind in the midst of all the other details. Not shooting a photo was a result of me simply being human.
Now I realize that this is not the catastrophic problem that I was feeling it was. I totally get that the world was going to keep on spinning, and that in the grand scheme of life, this was not that big of a deal. And I know that most people wouldn’t even really care. But I care. This 365 project matters to me, and I felt incredibly angry with myself. I felt such a sense of disappointment. I felt like I blew it.
And then I had to shake it off. I was not going to quit, even though the urge to do so might have been strong given the ways in which I felt I had blown it. I’m betting that this is what happens to many people who don’t complete a 365 project — one day causes a hiccup, a missed photo, and the feelings of f*cking it up makes people throw in the towel. But I chose to accept that this is what happened. I didn’t shoot a photograph on day 320/365. And while that was a total bummer, I had to pick up my camera on day 321/365 and move FORWARD. I had to dust myself off and keep going. I had to put one foot in front of the other, and keep doing the work. The Universe gave me a beautiful, if not painful, opportunity to practice my one little word for the year. And I’m grateful for it.
Sometimes, life is hard…
Life has been a bit of a blur lately. Work has kept me swirling as I try to keep my head above water. And although I have felt completely overwhelmed and behind, Tony and I had a long-awaited for trip booked where we headed south last week to meet up with some dear friends (who we see WAY too infrequently) in a new-to-all-of-us-city. Then, approximately six hours after returning home, I was at the hospital having eye surgery to correct some problems I’ve had as a result of complications from my follow-up treatment a few years ago. I told you, a BLUR, literally and figuratively.
So within the week, life has gone from this…
A blur, I’m telling you — full on shenanigans to fashionable hospital gowns and eyes covered with ice-packs. So as I rest up and tend to some TLC for my self, I’m thinking of all I have to share with you. I still want to update you on my favorite film from the True/False festival (I haven’t forgotten). Then I want to fill you in on the highlights from our trip to Nashville (although that photo above does sum it up quite well!). Last but perhaps most reverberating, I had a great — and difficult — opportunity appear that has allowed me to work a bit deeper with my word for the year, and I want to tell you all about that, too.
But for now, I’m going to soak in the tub. Eat some soup. Practice self-care.
The swirling is in full effect. I’ve talked about the swirling many times before — the swelling to-do list, the the feelings of overwhelm, the lack of hours in the day. That’s where I am right now. Thick in the swirl and trying not to get pulled down. Thankfully, I’m still making it to the mat. And that is helping me to breathe. To take just one moment of stillness, and breathe.
If you are feeling the swirling, too, I invite you to take a moment of stillness, and just breathe. Maybe you’re at a red light in your car. Or in line for coffee. Or responding to your overflowing inbox. Or in a meeting at work. In any of these situations, we have the opportunity to take a few deep breaths. And trust me (and lots of research!), that small moment can help enormously. Breathe on, friends. xoxo
The truth is, January and February have felt hard. I’ve been struggling, friends, despite the good news that’s come my way and the creative dreams coming to light. My morning ritual slipped a bit, and that did not help matters. I was ignoring my body with the exception of sleep, and that didn’t help either. So after sitting with this funk for almost two months, I’ve begun to dust myself off. I’m back to my morning pages. And I’m back on the mat. I am learning the art of surrender.
If you want to learn surrender,
then the next time
you are caught out in the rain
without a raincoat or umbrella,
rather than run for shelter,
allow yourself to get wet.
You will be very aware
of the resistance to getting wet,
that instinctual urge
to run for shelter,
the sense of ‘me’
that wants to protect itself.
This is what
must be surrendered
in order to stay out in the rain.
When this resistance
and you allow yourself
to fully feel the experience
of being soaked,
then there is a sense of freedom
from yourself that carries with it
a sense of deep
It has nothing to do
with liking the rain
or not liking the rain.
Rather, it is letting go
of the one that likes
or doesn’t like,
the one that separates
itself from the rain in the first place.
And when you do that
you are simply left
with what is.
There is no you
and what is,
there is simply what is.
And the experience
of what is
It is completely
open and vulnerable
If you apply
of being in the rain
to any situation,
then there will be
It has nothing to do
with the particular experience,
rather it is about
letting go of the one
that separates itself
letting go of the one
that tries to control
Because it is that separation
that creates all conflict.
Sometimes the darkness takes over…
The end of the semester is in sight and my attentions are (finally) starting to turn toward celebrations. I have been spinning the past few weeks, amidst the swirl of many deadlines, living in the shadow of the mountain-high to-do list. But the light is starting to come back, the list has many tick marks, my shoulders are moving back down my back and away from ears, and more air is entering my lungs. All good things. This is the part I have to remind myself of over and over — the to-do list will get overfull again, and I will be swirling again, and again, I will get through it all. Such is the ebb and flow.
But now, celebrations. I’m packing my bags for a weekend trip to NYC. I’m going to see my photograph in the gallery at the Impossible Project (O.M.G.). I’m going to see my Tribe Sisters, and we’re going to take in the city in all its holiday sparkle. I’m going to celebrate and fill my cup. So grateful.