Let go of any illusions of who you think you are.  Be
not afraid:  allow your delusions and confusions to be burned away in
the fire of emotion, and allow yourself to emerge from the ashes
renewed and with a new understanding of who you really are.

Journeys come in many, many flavors.  They can be little snippets of your everyday routines, something new and out of the ordinary dropping into place, or something larger...a cataclysmic event that defines you for the ages.

I am journey bound.  Eternally it seems.  Always have been.  Looking for more, searching, finding, wondering.  My friend Meg tells me I am a seeker.  Always looking beyond.  She says she loves that about me.  I say it wears on me more than I let on most of the time and that I find on the most intense seeking journeys, I lose myself in the quest to find.

This week I'm at my father's home in Pennsylvania.  A trip I honestly dreaded.  I feared what I would feel and how I would react.  He has advanced Parkinson's Disease.  I don't even really know him well, and those two factors alone are enough to begin to spin me into seeker mode.  

I decided though, to look at this trip as a journey of sorts.  A way to link with this man.  This man from whom I originate and with whom I seemingly have much in common.  I decided to look at this trip through a lens of love and discovery instead of fear, questioning and sorrow; though they may have been easier to fall into.  

This week I've found that we have a similar cadence to our voice.  He trails off at the end of sentences much as I do.  The richness in his voice reminds me of my own when I'm intoxicated with fatigue.  His laughter is joyful and full.  He repeats his stories multiple times, but never loses his zeal for telling them.  It reminds me of my inability to tell a joke.  He looks at me with eyes that are my own reflected back.  Blue and full, soft and welcoming.  He's frustrated and sad, wary and confused.  I am all of these things in my own ways and in my own time.  His is just focused on a pin point of being.  On a little path laden world of safety around his home.  Schedule on schedule on schedule...that too is me.  

I helped him get his sweater on this morning, guiding his hand like a child into the sleeves that eluded his own control.  We shared that.  We marveled at a French romance movie last night, side by side...discussing contrast and beauty.  I downloaded the soundtrack onto my iPhone, he called me a show off.  His humor is mine, his loves, mine.

The ashes of a missing father from my childhood seem blown away this week.  Gone with the passing of time.  The clarity of his gentle soul and his vulnerability have replaced them and I'm understanding myself a little more though this time with him.  It may well be my final time with him.  My final time to find pieces of myself in his presence.  What a sweet, sweet gift that is.


Your curiosity may get the best of you today. You are driven to delve beneath the obvious appearances and seek the hidden component of what's going on. But this isn't just an idle wandering; it's more about a search to establish a healthier balance in your life. Thankfully, you should be able to positively impact your world if you can discover what causes are at play. Increasing your awareness may be all that's needed.

Curiosity.  Today?  JUST today?  Ha...um, no.  I'm the constant curious soul.  Always have been.  Lately though it has channeled itself in some interesting ways.  Challenging my creativity and forcing me to be realistic (which is never one of my favorite pastimes) seems to be the goal.  Maybe it's this wretched month, maybe it's the winding down school year, or the impatience that plagues me more than it is curiosity.  But these are my top 5 wonderings today:

  1. Why do my children fight the entire time they do the dishes.  They both have to do them, why not compliment one another through the process.  Seems more productive and overall much nicer.
  2. Why don't I have the willpower to resist Impossible Film?  I have yet to actually take many shots with my SX-70 that I like, and now they go and debut a GOLD film?!  You're killing me Impossible!
  3. Why does the Alaskan landscape look like a matted hairball this time of year.  What the hell is it that coats everything?  Someone said snow mold?  Eww!  I hate mold.
  4. What was I thinking taking a photo from the floor, up?  That is not nose flattering.
  5. Why don't I just go ahead and bite the bullet and get the tattoo I keep thinking about and pretending not to want.  Because I'm too damn fickle.  That's why.


Calling it a Life

Look at the earth crowded with growth, new and old bursting from their strong roots hidden in the silent, live ground, each seed according to its own kind...each one knowing what to do, each one demanding its own rights onthe earth... So, artist, you too from the deeps of your soul... let your roots creep forth, gaining strength. - Emily Carr

I had this sense of strength yesterday.  A glorious sense of letting go.  It's a powerful choice when you begin to define your own self by the gifts you have, the feelings that course through your own self, and the ways in which you find your world beautiful.  April is notoriously my least favorite month.  I've often wished it were wiped from the calendar.  It is the gray time, the melting, the brown time...sadness for me.  It has been acutely so for the past five years now, but not anymore.

I'm not quite sure when, but someday not long ago I decided to stop letting the sadness April holds for me define who I am.  I moved on.  Not in a brash and selfish way, but in a way that just felt right and a way that I just knew was right.  I'm certain I'll never forget the events that led to April being an even darker month for me that it always has been.  I'm also certain that I've stopped allowing those events to infiltrate quite so severely, instead I've begun to allow my eyes to open more meaningfully and to breathe with my whole self again.  I read a line yesterday.  Stumbled across it really (which I believe is never really a stumble, and more of a meaningful path).  Mary Oliver, a favorite poet of mine, wrote in her poem, Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Branches, Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?  And I paused on the page, fingers on the line of the poem, thinking...yeah...sometimes I am.

Five years ago I would have fought with all my being.  I would have been angry and filled with sorrow.  I would have pushed and gnashed my teeth at reading a line like that.  Not anymore though.  Somehow, my roots have crept forward, gaining strength and I've just moved on.  Five years is a long, long time to document sadness and tragedy.  I know sometimes it has to be done.  I've lived there too.  It's just that now, today...I'm choosing to breathe more deeply.


Full Moon Push

I plan things out in advance.  I sketch the ideas, pull the mental notes, run the plays in my head.  I'm a planner.  I think I've always been one.  Organizing, pulling together, adding touches of me to the mix.  As an adult this planning things has manifested itself into some pretty ugly outcomes.  I was manic about my kids' schedules when they were babies.  Obviously it didn't hurt them, but it wouldn't have hurt me to relax a bit either.  I've pulled many an 'all nighter' to get the details done for projects, presentations and meetings only to have them brushed over as 'oh that's just organized Vanessa'.  This part of my personality is one I embrace and loathe.  But it came with the package.  With me.  I could no sooner let it go than any of my other personality quirks.

So this week, when I talked to my dad about his desire to see my kids this summer, and to have us travel to Pennsylvania to do so, it was no surprise to me that I was tossed into a little flurry of unsure fervor.  Searching for tickets, weighing options, thinking through and considering feelings.  All the while, being weighed down with obligation and uncertainty.  Two days of trying to make airline plans and trying to mentally wrap my brain around changing everything about how I'd planned my summer.  Ugh.  Damn planner.

As I often do, when things are overwhelming me, I shut everyone out.  Tried to do it myself, tried to find a way to make it all work out just the way I wanted.  Without a plan even.  That rarely works for me.  And also as I often do I stopped mid-freakout, and took a breath.  I read a book I've just started, went to bed a little earlier, grounded myself.  I found a little focus, asked for a little help (thank you Diane, travel agent extraordinaire!), and I'm going to survive. Duh. The outcome won't be what I'd planned.  And I'm okay with that.  I think.  Instead I'll be doing what someone else needs me to do for a while.  I'll be changing up my own ideas and reorganizing them to be all jumbled up again later.  And I'll drag the kids along with me for the ride.  Maybe someday when I'm gone they'll reminisce about their nutty mom who tried to organize the world to fit her vision.  I can only hope.

Heather reminded me this week, through our weekly photo collaboration (which I plan to be more on top of), that more often than not, it's not about my own desires, but about being what others need me to be so I can more easily find some truth for myself.  Too often in hindsight I've felt the pressure of the blinders I put on for the sake of my 'plan', and it's only then that I can see what I've missed.  I'm trying very hard not to let this happen so much anymore.


how messy and uncertain

Shades of gray.  Sometimes being an educator is like wading through shades of gray.  Earlier this week, my job thrilled me.  It made me laugh aloud.  It made me proud to be witness to creativity and learning.  It fulfilled.  Not tonight.  Tonight it feels like a hazy gray fog that I can't shake.  It feels like sadness and lingering.

Sometimes, this job is about more than standards and testing.  It's about far more than graded papers piled up neatly and desks in tidy groups.  It's about kids.  About being their only constant.  About feeling through hunches and working on your gut feelings.  It's about asking where the bruises came from, and how the scratches came to be.  It's about my hand, covering my eyes because looking at the situation is just so damn hard sometimes.  It's seeing through the lies, through the shades of gray and finding a way to bring light into the life of a child who has absolutely none.  It's messy.  It's uncertain.  It breaks my heart.



Your emotions are not likely to be light or breezy right now, dear Libra, but neither are they burdensome. Vulnerability that you may be feeling these days can open the door to more compassion and understanding, not only with others but with your own emotions, which has the effect of building a more protective and nurturing environment for yourself. 

As an artist and a creative I'm often finding myself at a crossroads.  Too many ideas, not enough, too many opinions or too many critiques.  I've ventured out a lot lately.  I have tried new experiences with my photography, attempted ideas I'd never dreamed of attempting, and collaborated with people I've wanted to collaborate with for a long time.  Have I made mistakes in there?  Sure.  I'm sure I've made some along the way.  Maybe a shot was over exposed or I missed a clip on the back of a dress in editing...maybe I missed THE shot because I was busy fiddling with my settings. 

I was talking to a new friend today about challenges and crossroads and how important it is to embrace those stepping stones of growth.  It is my belief that these experiences, be they failures or successes, are critical to moving further.  Actually critical.  So why then, when doubt creeps in, and fear starts to slide into the picture do I resist the urge to learn and embrace the safety of what I know.  Human nature.  Yeah.  Security, fear...all of that. 

Spring is coming.  It's this time of year that I struggle most.  The nasty weather becomes all encompassing for weeks.  Mud, slush, and grimy wet puddles find me glaring out the window and wishing that the sun would swing around already and bring summer, full of bounty and opportunities to trip along the creative stepping stones that might otherwise become stumbling blocks for my creativity.  Crossroads, yes.  Not a stop sign though.  Spring still holds a bit of promise yet.


the will is the weaver

I feel like so much sort of came together this week.  Not in a great way, but in a way it was supposed to; accomplishing just what it was supposed to accomplish (if you believe in that sort of thing).  I got an adult dose of reality.  I got some news I didn't like.  Something that probably should have been reality to me well before it actually was too...it stings worse that way.

My quote with Heather last week and this week had to do with will.  They had to do with finding a way to guide yourself when faced with the constant pull of guiding others.  Perfection for me given the realities that set in this week, and my personality in general (though I'm pretty sure not everyone in my life would agree).  

I thought about our quotes, this one in particular, "The signs of the zodiac are karmic patterns; the planets are the looms; the will is the weaver." when I took yet another shot of myself that I just didn't like.  It set me off.  Set me on this sort of spiral, maybe the universe's way of telling me to prepare myself for what was coming. I didn't really like it.  I didn't seem to like a whole lot of what I was doing.  I still don't.  I didn't love how I felt about my work, or how my work felt about me.  

So, weave in, weave out (invoking Mr. Miyagi here) and learn from it.  It's in my will.  I am the weaver and I'm thinking that a dose of reality is likely what I needed in the first place and more than just likely what I should have seen before it smacked me and laughed at the shocked look on my face. 

This too shall pass, and I know it's the dramatic artist in me that just bathes in this and allows it to swallow her up until she can learn from it.  I'll resurface.  I know.  Until then I'll keep weaving, keep sounding off, keep ignoring realities and keep my head in the clouds and behind the lens (sometimes in front too) because even when it's not fun, it's meant to be.  And...this photo looks horrible on blogger but that's poetic justice too somehow.  I'll take it.