24 December 2013

Raw and Exposed

Being me is hard.  I am not merely one person with one simple set of rules, opinions, visions, or way of being.  I am complex, I contain multitudes of feeling and I find myself staring inside at the deepest parts of me sometimes, wishing I could pull them out and deconstruct them and turn them into something simple.  I do understand, however, that this is what makes me who I am.  It just sucks sometimes.

I feel things so deeply.  I feel with such incredible intensity at times that it's almost unbearable.  My soul contains energy that just doesn't seem possible, or of this world.  And it's always there.  I can't contain it yet letting it out hurts almost as much as trying to dissolve it, because it continues to regenerate. 

I wish my soul had an off button, or at least a pause button.  Even having a minute or two of space for me to breathe and not feel it so deeply would be a welcome break.

But yes, again, I do realize that this is who I am and what makes me tick and what creates the good and positively wonderful parts of my being.  This is why other people walk with me, because my light shines so brightly.  I do realize this. I know it.  I see it.  And fuck, how deeply I feel it.

And it's really hard.

It's hard to have such an unfathomable amount of love inside my heart and hold it out with complete understanding, respect, gentleness and just give it away because I know that it is the right thing to do.  It is absolutely the right thing to be kind, compassionate, empathetic and completely supportive of a soul and ask nothing in return because you truly want to see that soul shine.

Because you know their soul deserves it.  Because you want to see it shine just as brightly as yours. Because seeing someone you love see their own soul the way that you see it is a reward in itself.  Because knowing that your own light can bring much needed healing to them.  And you do it with no expectations because it's the right thing to do. Because you feel in your heart that perhaps those pieces of yourself do not belong to you, but were placed in your care in order to be freely given so that another can grow.

It's the absolutely right thing to do but it still hurts.  I am raw and exposed and it's not something I can help.  It is as it should be, for if it weren't meant to be it wouldn't exist.  Cutting off my arm would be easier than shutting it all off and trying to contain it. I have no option but to be open and vulnerable and allowing myself to just give it all away.

And I continue to give it because it's the right thing to do.  Because I have no other option.  That is what love is. It does not discriminate and it doesn't allow you to mold it according to what your ego wishes it to be.  It just is.

20 December 2013

As it is

Sometimes answers aren't meant to come just because you're looking for them.  Searching for clarity in situations that have not yet played themselves out just seems to cause more struggle which in turn makes it harder to know exactly what you really *should* do.  It's tough to dig down deep enough to let your true intuition guide you when you become distracted by outside opinions and perceptions.  Objective views are great, of course, but sometimes they lack pertinent information.

I've struggled lately, looking for guidance and the fact remains that I am NOT at a crossroads.  Obstacles have presented themselves, yes, but I am still on the same road, and rather than take the hand of a force that I do NOT trust or even recognize and let it guide me, I am going to swiftly push the obstacle aside and continue on the road in the same manner that I had originally intended.  I'm going to keep walking in the same way that I had previously felt was right. I am going to continue to let my own intuition, my own heart and my own soul guide me.  There is more for me to learn in this.  

When I am ready to receive the answers, they will come.  I will not force it.

28 November 2013

Holidays, tradition, and moving past the grief

It’s quiet in my house.  The sun is shining and I am sunk deeply into my couch under two vintage blankets that likely kept my great-grandmother warm on similar days as she sat in the same spot under the same roof.  There are many differences, however, as I reflect fondly on how it must have been in those days, how it was for the majority of my own life and how it has come to be now.

My grandmother grew up with a house full of family.  Her grandparents, maternal and paternal, her aunts, uncles and many family friends, who may as well have been family, spent their lives here.  If they didn’t live here they enjoyed just as many dinners in my kitchen as those who did.  I can still feel that energy surrounding me, even though the only other breathing soul here belongs to my dog.  Not just the energy from the generations that were here before me, but the energy from 33 years of holiday meals I was lucky enough to experience.

My grandmother was a baker.  She probably spent more hours in her kitchen than many people who have made a career out of cooking.  It’s no wonder she ended up putting carpet in the kitchen.  She was raised in a time where all of that which sustained a family was grown and raised right in your backyard, or at a neighbors farm within walking distance.  A time where meals were the backbone of the entire day, especially during the holidays.  There was no room for excuses or exceptions to not being present at the table for the meals that were the result of weeks and months of sowing and harvesting, hours of preparation over a stove by hands that poured soul into what would nourish the body and spirit.  Not just the physical presence, but the connection between those who sat next to each other in appreciation of it all.

The sounds are still fresh in my mind, though not as fresh as the smell that still resides in my own soul.  Sitting here right now, in this empty house, I can still smell it all just as if her meals were warming on the stove as I type.  I remember it so vividly and can hear the sound of the meat cutter as my dad carved the turkey in preparation for its sacred spot in the middle of the table.  As a child, my job was usually to fill the water glasses.  That’s at least one thing that hasn’t changed, as we still drink the same water from the same well that was dug by hand before my grandmother was even born.

My most cherished memory?  Her pumpkin pie.  I have yet to eat a pumpkin pie that comes close to comparing to hers.  I believe she poured her love and affection for me into every one that she made as it was my favorite from the very first bite that crossed my lips.

And now, as I sit here in silence, thinking about all of this, four years now that she has been gone from my physical life, I think I’m ready to let go of my grief for what’s been lost and try to rebuild the holidays and their traditions again.  As much as I have accepted her tragic departure from this earth and have moved on in many ways, the holidays have been largely ignored.  Next weekend, my children and I will spend our time in the kitchen baking cookies with her recipes, from scratch, as we listen to Christmas music on her record player, just like I used to do as a child.  And as I watch my boys eyes light up when they roll out the dough with the same wooden rolling pin and create their cookies with the same vintage tin cookie cutters that were used by generations before me, I will happily feel her spirit standing next to me, smiling.

20 November 2013

Decision and Indecision

This journey continues.  I've been conflicted in whether to continue to take on photography work on a professional level and the answer still doesn't seem to be clearly presenting itself.  I've been letting go for a while, finishing up the processing from the sessions that filled every free moment of the past two months while trying not to make a decision.  Thinking that the answer will come to me when the time is right.

The time comes and goes, and comes and goes again.

After I finished all my scheduled shoots at the end of October, I made it clear that I was taking a break. Yet somehow the work continued to present itself.  So I thought that maybe I wasn't meant to quit it, at least not just yet.  And I never really planned to completely quit, yet there are also times that I don't want anything to do with it any more.

This is the Libra quality I struggle with most.  Trying to find balance in my life, I struggle with making decisions more than anything.  I rely on my intuition, and have been trying to pay more attention to it and base my perceptions, views and choices on where my deepest inner self is leading me. Mostly it's been leading me to paths that are beneficial to me and that teach me important lessons and aide me in finding parts of myself that I've been searching for. Yet, this one decision has been eating away at me like a vulture chews away at roadkill in between passing cars.

It comes and goes, and comes and goes again.

There are other things I feel drawn to concentrate on more than providing my photography services in this business sense and I truly believe that I'm meant to explore and hone in on them further.  There are other creative avenues of photography I want to explore and work on further, but I'm being pulled to other creative outlets and life paths too.

There is a part of me that just isn't ready to let go of the business, even though I already have in some ways.  I shut down the website, I let my domain expire, even though I'm still in talks with potential clients and going through the motions of taking on a little more work.  But it's slowly coming to an end.  The vulture seems to be picking away at scraps now as I fight against letting it finish its meal.

I know it's time.  And if I can be just completely balls-out honest?  The only thing keeping me from letting it go is pride.  I know that I didn't fail at running this business.  But the little ego-based voices in my head are doing a good job of trying to make me see it that way.  But everything that I've done has led me to where I am and I truly believe that I am where I'm supposed to be.  I have a great job at a great place; one that provides me with a sense of accomplishment, appreciation, a great group of co-workers (who also happen to be friends!), a fantastic boss, a flexible schedule, and a steady paycheck.  And I couldn't be happier.  Had I not left my state job, I wouldn't be here right now.  Had I not taken the leap to start this business I wouldn't realize that it's not what I'm meant to do.

I enjoy photography.  I enjoy shooting weddings.  I love capturing the completely free expressions of a child running and exploring their surroundings.  But I don't love running a business and relying on the economy for an income.  And I don't love marketing and promoting and advertising and many other aspects of it.

Yes, I believe it's time to let it go.

12 November 2013

no more knotty

Just over two months of not brushing my hair, letting it take on a life of its own as the strands twisted and turned into each other, I decided to take a comb to it.  The answer is simple, yet complicated.  For one thing, it's knitting season.  This is the time of year I spend a ridiculous amount of time with my ass planted on my couch, under a blanket with a ball of yarn and a set of circulars attached to me like another appendage.  And I like hats.  Last season I could have supplied a small country with the amount of hats I knit.  Unfortunately when I put one of my favorites on for the first time a couple weeks ago I realized that my dreads were stretching them out.  And I knew that if I continued on this journey the hats would just stretch further, or else I'd have to knit some slouchy hats, which would be fine, but alas....the time had come.

And it wasn't just the hats.  To be honest, I was starting to feel like a mess.  Obvious from my last post, my hair was becoming a tangled web that required much more attention than I had the time, or energy, to pay to it.  September and October were crazy busy months for photography work and I've spent the past few weeks editing the results.  On top of a full time job, two energetic children, a house that is in a perpetual state of remodeling, and the every-day stuff, I just didn't have time to spend taking care of my dreads.  I didn't, and don't, have the time to form them, help them along and baby them the way they were asking me.

Do I feel like I failed?  Do I regret brushing them out and giving up on the journey when it was only beginning?  No, not at all.  Because I didn't fail and the journey is far from over.  The dreads were merely a part of a much bigger journey; one that I'm still on and will be on for quite some time I'm sure. It felt really, really, REALLY GOOD to brush my hair out.  It felt amazing to wash it the next day and see it lay perfectly around my face, all shiny and still healthy.  Yes, most importantly, my hair did not lose any of the glow and luster that it's always had.  I'm certain that part of the reason for letting it go in the first place was so that I could come back to this point and appreciate my long, thick, strawberry-blonde tresses, because for a long time I've felt my hair was a burden.

The next step?  I'm letting it grow long again.

What else?  I'm taking another big step and fitting in a yoga class this week.  It's ridiculously sad that I've been working here for two months now and haven't made the time to go up one flight of stairs and take an hour of time to give my body the attention it needs.  And the goal is to make a habit of doing it at least once a week. My limbs, my muscles, they beg me for it.  And I miss the way I used to move my body when I was younger.  No plans on becoming an olympic gymnast, but I do hope to be able to do a back walkover again!

For now?  My latest knitting creation is within arms reach, and I'm logging out to finish it up.

01 November 2013

Mercury In Retrograde

Apparently when Mercury is in Retrograde we are supposed to reflect more than communicate.  This is proven to me as the wifi at my office is totally fritzing on a  minute to minute basis.  And I've felt pretty scattered in the past week, but it is what it is, and to the contrary I feel like this is the best time for me to write and get out all the shit that's in my head.

Tonight I spent a bit of time on my porch writing in my journal.  These beautiful fall days are probably on their way out as I type and tomorrow will most likely bring more true to the season weather.  I seem to do my most intimate and deep writing when I'm sitting on my porch, with the late afternoon sun warming me, soaking it all up.  Winter seems to keep me stuck to my couch, mostly with the knitting needles in my hands, which is fine, but I really need to create a space to do real writing during these cold months.

I attempted to work at my dreads tonight.  I made one last week with the twist and pull method and the same day it started coming out.  I pulled it out and tried to wrap it with some embroidery floss but there's no way I can accomplish this task myself as it's really hard to see, even with my glasses on.  So then I tried to create a new one at the top of my head using the same twist and pull method.  Didn't work.  Tonight apparently isn't the right time to work on my dreads.

I'm guessing that I just need to continue to let them dread themselves.  My hair is telling me what it wants to do and rather than try to control it, I need to let it do what it wants.

It's a fucking mess.  Really.  I wake up in the morning and it's crazy looking, and I try to calm it, and that really works.  Mostly.  But it seems like the more I try to force them the worse it all looks.  

Life is much the same.  Force something and it gets all fucked up. And I can carry this with me in other areas, which is why I'm on this journey.....to help me learn patience.  Because I really need to learn patience. It's the process, after all, that is where the depth is found.  Sure, my hair is a mess, and so are other things, but isn't the beauty actually found in the mess?  It's the crazy, messy parts that bring us to the most meaningful experiences?  Sometimes having no answer to the craziness brings more experience too.  

I'm trying, really, really hard, to embrace the moment, the process, every intricate and meaningful moment.  Not just in terms of my hair, but in so many other areas.  And I'm reminded of the beauty in all of it every time I look at each of the dreads forming.  They twist, turn and pull themselves in and out of the locks in their own way, much as the rest of my life seems to be unfolding in it's own crazy way.

More to come :)

19 October 2013

Two month dreadlock update

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve updated on how my dreadlocks are progressing.  It’s a much slower process than I initially expected, but it’s surely been an interesting an enlightening one.  There will be no photos to accompany this post as my hair is currently in a messy ball on top of my head and I haven’t yet showered, but I promise to share some soon.

To be completely honest, there have been days full of temptation to pick up the brush and just end this journey.  There are times that I go on these internal judgments and wonder how I’m viewed by others.  I attended a business lunch for my boss a few weeks ago and I couldn’t help but wonder if people looked at my mess of a hair with the same judgments.  At this point in my journey, I still only have about 10 locks forming, and none of them really are completely “locked” right now.  There are two stemming from my hairline at my forehead that seem to be the most formed.  One in particular has taken on the look of a twisting and turning mountain road, and it’s by far my favorite lock right now.  But it’s beauty is getting hidden as each lock continues to pull other fly-away strands surrounding them into it.  And it takes those random, loose, fly-away strands some time to attach itself to the already formed lock.  And it takes quite a bit of care to ensure that each lock isn’t getting too big, or that they are combining in a fairly uniform fashion.

There are still two locks on the left side of my head that continue to mesh together closer to the roots in an unpleasant way.  Most mornings I wake up with this big brillo pad of a ball sticking out the side of my head and then I have to work them apart from the scalp and wrap them with tiny rubber bands to keep them separated.  But then the rubber bands slide down the lock and before I know it the ball has formed again.  And these two locks would be too big as one or else I’d just have let them tie the knot already.

Indeed, it’s been a struggle at times, and the main thing keeping me from brushing it out is knowing how long it would take to even just get through one.  Plus, I don’t have any conditioner in the house and it would be absolutely necessary if I don’t want to pull out pieces of my scalp. So, I haven’t given up yet, and as much as I would love to be able to run my fingers through my smooth and silky, feminine strands, I’m going to continue to be a mess and see what happens.  It’s just hair after all.

Additionally, I have to admit that I sometimes have a habit of not following through with things.  I start a project and then something else comes up or I lose momentum. I will say that knitting has been good for me in learning the art of follow-through, but I still need to work on this.  For instance, I have a tshirt that I hand-sewed a piece of vintage fabric onto months ago, and it’s still sitting in my knitting bag waiting to be finished.  I also have a cowl that I finished but still need to tie off.  So, yes, the hair needs to finish dreading.  For now at least.  And if I do give in and brush it (or rather, have someone else brush the mess out for me as I’m sure  my arms would be like jello above my head for that long) I won't feel the least bit guilty for not seeing it through.  If this journey is meant to end, it just means that it's meant to end.

Ok, so there’s a little mini-update.  I need to get in the shower and get ready to spend the afternoon at my boss’s farm!  I’m looking forward to an enjoyable, beautiful fall day with friends enjoying the fruits of their labors.  I’m totally stoked (yes I just said totally stoked!) to finally see the farm!  Happy autumn everyone!

11 September 2013

Still on the journey

Been longer than I planned since I updated.  It's been a really slow process in terms of changes in my hair.  There are, at the current moment, three locks forming quite nicely and I haven't yet taken any photos of them as it's kind of hard to do myself.  So, perhaps there's a little metaphor in this part of the journey.  Ask for help :)  It's really not that hard, but asking for help shows vulnerability, which I have a hard time with.  And hence, another reason for embarking on this journey.  I want to allow myself to be more open, more vulnerable.

 There are certain situations in  my life that have given me the opportunity to learn patience and gentleness and respect for the journeys of others.  It is easy to look at anyone from your own perspective and judge them and expect things of them based on your own needs.  But often, what these people truly need is your tenderness, your ability to put their own needs ahead of yours, knowing that they know what they need and that they will carve their own path in their own way, based on what is right for them. It is not our place to try to make another person *see* what we see, but rather it is our place to hold them gently and caress their tender hearts while allowing them to find their own way.  And putting your own needs aside for the sake of another's needs/happiness/wants/preferences doesn't make you weak, nor does it open you up to be a doormat.  Instead, it makes you a compassionate human being, and most importantly it allows your friend or loved one to be free.  And there is nothing more loving than the freedom to be yourself without being judged or held to unnecessarily binding standards.  When you really think about it, most people's intentions are not to purposefully hurt you or make your life harder, especially those who truly do love and care for you.  All any of us want is to be happy, and content and confident and independently sufficient in ourselves.  How can we expect another person to treat us with the respect for our needs if we don't give the same to them.

Everyone is on their own journey.  There are people who can't understand why I would want to let my hair go as I have been.  A few have begged me to let them brush it, and yes, I've been told that it's really rather messy looking.  Some day, I will brush it.  Don't know when that will be, but it will happen when and if I feel it's right, not when someone else feels that I should.  In that respect, why would I force my own metaphorical brush upon another?

I also want to take this time to thank one of my longest and closest friends for the ability to have a ridiculously heated, defensive (on both sides) late night conversation about many things we've both needed to let out.  One where we both could have walked away from it feeling resentful and judgmental of each other. Instead, a few days later we came back to each other with nothing but compassion looking back on the many parts of ourselves that showed through in that heated discussion, knowing that it in no way impacted our ability to continue to be amazing friends to each other.  It is in the worst, most confrontational conversations with those around us that we seem to dig down deep in ourselves and figure out a lot of things that we don't often see or care to admit.  And for that, I couldn't be more thankful to call you  my friend.

More on the journey to come.  And I promise next time there will be pictures.

27 August 2013

Dreads - Day 10

When I first mentioned that I was letting my hair dread, my kids had mixed responses.  Seth was excited, and Sean wasn't quite so much.  I didn't really explain in detail why I was doing it; just that it was a journey I felt I needed right now.  Seth actually said he wanted them too, though his hair is much too short for it, and due to their change in schooling, it’s not something that he will be able to do.  In fact, the beautiful long hair Sean has grown all summer has now been chopped, which was pretty tough for me to deal with.  I loved his long hair with its thick and beautiful golden strands that hung perfectly around his gorgeous face like those of a beach-loving surfer.

But it’s all part of the journey I’m quickly realizing, as Sean has now made it clear that he doesn’t want me to grow dreadlocks because he will miss being able to play with my hair.  Many evenings we would spend on the couch with him running his fingers through my hair like a comb, delicately separating the strands.  I’m trying to convince him that he can, instead, get just as much joy out of separating each of my locks and be an involved and important part in “guiding” them with me.

And that’s one of the biggest pieces of this journey that I’m coming to terms with right now.  While a lot of my reason for allowing my hair to dread has to do with letting go of control and allowing them to do as they wish, much like I’m trying to do with my life, I’m quickly realizing that I can’t completely relinquish all control.  In fact, it’s clearly necessary for me to help shape and guide them, just like it’s necessary for me to guide myself.  I can decide which strands to separate, how thick or thin I want them to be, how many of them there are.  I can gently care for them just like I care for the deepest parts of myself. 

But the dreads will also be independent of me in ways too.  Some of them will form on their own and only need my twisting and guidance in small ways, but others will require more of my attention more often.  Much like life and many other situations, I will have to allow them to find their own shape and grow on their own, but still lend my care when they require, or ask me for it.  And I will have to trust my intuition to know when it’s okay and necessary to do so.

And here we have Day 10.  Taken early this morning, I had washed and slept on it overnight.  I was tempted to take a photo of the mess that proceeded it from a day spent tubing on the creek and an evening of post-float partying, camping and such.  It really took on a life of it's own from those 24 hours.  But, you get the cleaned up version!

And here is a shot taken later this afternoon.  Since I started this journey, I've mostly been wearing it pulled back in a scarf (one of my grandmother's vintage scarves, of course!), but today I decided to wear it down for the first time.  And I did quite a bit of separating and twisting today too.

Excited to see what the next 10 days brings!  Thanks for following along!

21 August 2013

Dreadlock Journey - part 1

Last Wednesday I packed my boys in the car and headed to the beach for a couple days of camping.  Thanks to a very sweet friend I was supplied with all the necessities to ensure we remained safe and comfortable.  A tent large enough for the three of us, a canopy to make sure we had shade from the sun, a lantern and a few other handy tools for “roughing it”.

And rough it we did. 

Since there was no sun in sight we refrained from setting up the canopy and as the wind began to blow pretty hard it was probably a good thing.  I spent a few hours after the boys fell asleep wondering if there was a tropical storm coming that perhaps my handy weather app had missed.  Fortunately we didn’t blow away and I eventually fell asleep, but when the morning came so did the rain.  And it rained most of the day on and off.  The sun never came out either, but DUDE….we were at the beach, so I flipped up my middle finger to the showering skies and we trekked out onto the sand anyway.

I was so glad we did.  The rain seemed to come and go in spurts, and the water was warm, but the wind was absolutely perfect for flying kites.  So we spent most of the morning doing just that.  Since the weather wasn’t really agreeable to most beach-goers it was rather desolate.  Miles and miles and miles of untouched beach all to ourselves and our high flying kites, it really was perfect.

While our little camping adventure isn’t really the point of this story, it is what finally sealed the fate of my hair, and it’s all relevant to the journey.  My life is constantly ebbing and flowing like the ocean tide.  Perhaps that’s why I find such solace in the ocean and why I’m so drawn to it.  Not only the beach itself, but Ocracoke Island in particular.  The fact that you have to drive your car onto a ferry and take a 45 minute journey across the inlet to get there, and then once you drive off the docks at the top of the island, it’s another 13 miles into town; a town that is merely one mile in radius.  A drive that consists of sand dunes on both sides, surrounded by ocean to the east and more than 20 miles of sound to the west, you’re at the mercy of nature.  I love much of the Outer Banks, but Ocracoke has touched a part of me that no other place ever has, and every time I visit I leave a bigger piece of my soul on it’s shore. 

So, how has all of this led me to finally decide to let my hair dread?  It was Friday morning, we packed up camp and had breakfast at Pony Island Restaurant and the sun appeared to be peeking out.  It hadn’t rained since we left the campground, so we decided to go back out on the beach and fly kites a little before heading up to the ferry.  The sun ended up coming out and we spent a couple hours taking it all in.  I immersed myself in the ocean, watching my children jump the waves, seemingly just as in love with the atmosphere there as I.  Before that, however, I took a photo of myself and it has become my favorite self-portrait to date.  My hair had a life of its own and fell in beautiful wind-blown strands all around my head. 

You see, I know I have beautiful hair, mostly because everyone tells me so.  But it’s kind of been a burden to me in many ways.  I’ve worn it long most of my life and it’s thick, heavy and sometimes unmanageable.  I often pull it up on my head in a haphazard and messy way.  The first time I cut it in the late 90’s I took off 16 inches and haven’t let it grow back that long since.  I’ve been wearing it around my shoulders for the past 2 or so years, and it’s been a struggle for me to figure out what the hell I WANT to do with it.  And now I know.

It’s the way I look at that photo and see all the facets of myself in each flowing strand.  The wildness, the way each flowing piece has a life of it’s own and surrenders to the commanding wind. I’ve been on a pretty intense journey for the past few years, learning to let go of expectations, learning to allow life to happen in it’s own natural way, learning to be in love with every part of the process and to love fully each experience that I have.  It’s been a challenge at times, but I have never felt so free as I do now.  Everything I’ve been through has led me to this place right here and it only feels natural to continue to honor my free spirit by embarking on this journey…and by sharing this journey with anyone who cares to follow along in it :) 

So, here's day 4.  No combing, no brushing, but I washed it yesterday.  I have done hardly anything to it except for separating and twisting a few strands that have been forming.  I'm pretty sure I'll separate a little more at the roots over the next few days and continue to twist a little to keep them from joining.  So far, my only issue is that the top layer of my hair is frizzy and hasn't wanted to form as much as the underlayer does, and the areas around the sides and front of my head are still looking freshly brushed (as seen in the 2nd photo below).

Happy Dreads to come!  Stay tuned!! 

About Me

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40. mother. earth lover. mover. creater.