Reach

Every moment is a reaching for and a letting go; a longing called Love.

Every moment is a reaching for and a letting go; a longing called Love.

Hello. It’s been quite a whirlwind lately. But ‘lately’ is a ‘usual’ for the ‘whirlwind’ is always there. The trick really is in the maneuvering. We all try our best to accomplish much, don’t we? Much, or less. I’m simply glad I am still able to make it to February’s photo-heart connection; I thought I’d miss it again. It’s been a long while. This feels good.

I think my days are pretty much like the image above. I try to remember that I am breath, I reach and let go and reach and let go. A constant give and take.

And in my daily doings, I can only hope to remind myself, make that effort, to quiet down a bit, take that precious pause, and feel that longing called Love as something not only for myself, but something transformed; a wish upon every living being that Love is realized, arrives, and gives them pure joy.

Every moment may you reach a deeper understanding of your true self and the true meaning of Love. And may you express wondrous things with that – that “reach” – and help make the world a better place.

Believe

Believe there is love. Believe in your light. Believe you will find the answers. Believe in your questions. Believe in change. Believe in the stars. Believe in your own path. Believe in your heart. Believe there is purpose even in your smallest movement. Believe in the stillness. Believe in bliss and freedom and chaos and struggle. Believe in the ways your soul is telling you how beautiful you are no matter what.

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September was like a prayer; photographs filled with love and inspiration, the hues of red, pink, orange, purple and blue. Dawn and dusk became a sweet embrace of light. It called for hope and spread out a warm, pretty, and welcoming blanket on a field of dreams, imploring one to believe in the magic of the heart. My photo-heart connection. Well, one of many.

Elevate

Rise. Warm up. Write. Create. Cook. Make. Sit. Breathe. Love. Be happy. Choose. Find. Peace. Work. Play. Smile. Sip. Think. Pause. Elevate.

We are all given pockets of time to simply transform any situation we are in into something more meaningful. It wasn’t difficult for me to choose this month’s photo-heart connection because the month of August was a whirlwind of events that had me in so many places that when I remember this particular moment, I remember a certain formula that keeps me grounded; a certain formula that helps me to find the magic in what may seem like just another morning, just another day.

What that formula it is exactly I’m not sure I know how to explain or even equate. I’m not even sure I make perfect sense. But what I do know is we all try to make it from point A to point B and then from B to C and so forth and so on, and hopefully the sum equals to something that is happy or peaceful – how? Maybe you learned more patience. Maybe you learned to stop and appreciate something in your life. Maybe you helped someone. Maybe you were more gentle to your heart and more loving to your body. Maybe you were more forgiving of the thoughts in your mind. Maybe you are learning to forgive yourself little by little and therefore you are more forgiving of others. Maybe you are learning to find love in those little places. Maybe you made someone smile. Maybe you are realizing your courage in the things you do everyday. Maybe you are finally seeing more and more beauty around you and you are learning that beauty can be found in the imperfections you try so hard to make perfect – maybe you have learned to let go of trying so hard to be perfect. Maybe you are more accepting and open, and therefore feeling more free.

When things don’t seem to add up, perhaps all you need is a few minutes to pause and remember your formula. When things feel too mundane you want to cry, perhaps you are forgetting you have the power to elevate everything in your life.

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For inspiration and more about learning how to elevate everything in your life, I encourage you to visit the Shutter Sisters blog.  And for more inspiration, you may also want to check out the book Elevate the Everyday by Tracey Clark. Nothing like a beautiful book in your hands.

Kindness

Image

I write this with the sound of rain in the background. It’s been a constant background for many days now. It’s beyond soothing and calm. It keeps pouring. It’s insane. It sounds like static. It just keeps on and on. There are massive floods everywhere. My photo-heart connection for July is this. This because I look at the woman in the photo and wonder about my life. I wonder about my spirit and my soul. I wonder what is it that I really know deep inside; what is it I carry in my heart and feel that I want to give to the world? What is it I need to know or learn or remember? I think it is kindness.

I came across a poem some months back and I felt it was exactly what we all need to know about kindness. See it, live it, share it; and not just share it, give it with your whole heart. Your whole and broken heart. The one that had to break – that has to break many times – to know what kindness is.

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho 
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans 
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, 
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and 
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

The thread of kindness is intertwined in us all and is woven by the hands of Love. This is how I came across the poem. Let us all remember the kindness of all beings; celebrate it, give it back, and keep weaving with its threads a big blanket of warmth and tenderness.

 

 

The Growth Process

I’m borrowing the title of a prompt given to us in our now finished Picture Black & White class because it reminds me – well, because it just makes me feel better. “The Growth Process”, what comes to your mind when you hear this?

I have been struggling lately, and a lot, with everything. The flow is weird. There is a lot of static. I feel like I need to always catch my breath; like I’m running to stand still, but the floor keeps shifting. I want to move, stretch, fly, but I also want to land. Safely.

I worked on two paintings – and as I’m typing this I realize I may have forgotten one ingredient: “play”.  I lost track of my 365 project, and in my mind the wicked gremlin keeps judging: “you failed, you are failing, can you really cope?” while the wiser and gentle part of me reassures:  “it’s okay, start where you are, there are no mistakes.”

Embrace Imperfection. Soulful and Silly. Are you really? You impostor. 

It hurts. And you know you often times hurt yourself the most. I know.

It seemed like the latter part of May and the whole month of June was this thick land of mud I had to tread on. If I stood still, or paused, I felt like I was sinking. “Walking” to get somewhere, to do something, to accomplish tasks, had become this elephantine effort. It may sound so dramatic – well, it is. A fragile elephant walking in the mud, merely wanting to participate in the beauty of the world – but is afraid sometimes, alone sometimes, doubtful and lost – looks at herself in the mirror and wonders are you really getting anywhere with all your dreams? 

A terrifying thought for such a simple and willing flower; this image is my photo-heart connection. I posted it in Instagram some weeks back with a quote and it got a lot of likes and comments. It was like medicine. I think when you are able to express your vulnerability through an image, and some chosen words, you mend something that is torn inside. Or, you open up a little bit more, quivering, yet stronger. Maybe that is growth. It’s not always so pretty. It’s not always a grand celebration. Sometimes it is what struggles inside, silent,  and somehow loud. Alone, but one with the world.

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” ~ Mark Victore Hansen 

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Note to self: Write about the good stuff; the little victories that happened “while you were treading on mud and was able to (actually) lift your legs”.

Surrender

“Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us. The world changes when we change. The world softens when we soften. The world loves us when we choose to love the world.” ~ Marianne Williamson

I thought I’d keep it simple and do my photo-heart connection  by leaving you with a quote. It is a lovely quote, isn’t it? But, I feel I want to talk a little more about the image. I have about 30 minutes before I need to jump into the shower. I was hoping to squeeze in a cup of coffee, but a rushed cup of coffee is totally pointless.  29 minutes starts now.

Everything just clicked. The moment I took that photo, I realized I had it. I had all I need. I had this lovely time in the mountains with my family. I had plenty of alone time to walk about the grassy fields, to take in the fresh mountain air, to zen out and just totally be with everything, and of course, to explore and play with my camera. I love flowers. And I kept clicking away. What I thought I ‘lacked’, probably earlier on as we were preparing for this vacation, was a better lens. Something I have been dreaming to get, but still need to save up for. When I saw this image, my heart just beamed. It was exactly how I wanted it. So when I say ‘I realized I had it’, I mean I did exactly what I needed to do to realize we are given, or we have, everything we need at any given moment. I needed to trust I could take the photos I wanted to take and then lighten up and just play. I have the lens which came with the kit and apparently it is enough for now. My husband says I ought to love the lens I have first, and learn to use it. He does have a point.

All we need to do is to surrender to the moment, remember some tips, and find the light. And we learn what we need to learn, and discover many wonderful things for ourselves. But everything, EVERYTHING, is a surrender. Lastly, I learned that it is important to be kind and gentle to oneself, just as you would be to your own child. For while it seems so romantic and easy to simply go with this surrendering, we will encounter many challenges. But, if you develop a loving voice towards yourself, the letting go becomes easier.

I wish you all the courage to listen to your loving voice inside. And surrender.

Potential

“I see nothing in space as promising as the view from a Ferris wheel.” ~ E.B. White

I am writing with a mind filled with anxiety.  A mind that is wondering if my husband’s band will get chosen as a finalist for The International Jazz & Blues Competition in Macao. Even as I type this I feel I don’t have a solid message or connection and it’s as if I am not typing fast enough – because I want to finish this post and beat an email that hasn’t arrived. Perhaps you can tell I am so not here in the Now. The present is filled with thoughts from either the future or the past and they continue to swirl in my head – Will they make it? When will I get the email? Should I check again now? What if they don’t make it? Then this post is really weird. Maybe I should I edit. Gosh I’m so nervous. Will we find out today? Oh please please let them make it. – and it’s not helping the fact I feel it took so long for me to get my act together to write about my Photo-Heart Connection for April. Yes, I am even judging that. Why did I wait until the last minute? What do I have to say? Well, at least I found the image. Now what?

And it’s perfect. I remember Kat’s post. I also remember the moment I took this photo and (good luck to me) I think I will be able to write about it and place the connection.

It’s a bit challenging because my heart is in a place of desire and expectation; I visualize something in my head and I want it so bad.  Much like the time I went over to the place where I had a view of this Ferris wheel. To make a long story short, I took so many shots, in so many different angles, with this filter and that, this perspective, this frame, that light, back to the other perspective, maybe this filter again, walk over there, wait a bit, shoot again, frame it again, change the filter, wait for better light – it was fun and then it became too serious. I was just too serious! I was trying too hard. It was madness. I had to let it all go. I remember feeling the weight of the frown on my face; my body was stiff and the more I was attached to a certain outcome, the more I kept on losing the joy. I caught myself in time and I went back to one of my first gut feelings which was to capture it in black and white and create that feeling of space.

Sometimes we linger in the seriousness of it all. While it is important to get things ‘right’ in a way that we meet requirements or deadlines, give everything our best, practice our crafts and get better at it, make certain efforts to go somewhere or be somewhere, be someone, do good, make a difference, go the distance to express oneself, it is just as important to know we simply need to ‘ride with it’ and not try way too hard that there is no more joy or peace.

I think when we find it difficult to laugh or even smile in all the different situations we are in, we need to change the way we are ‘in’ that situation. Perhaps we are holding on too tight. Perhaps we are too attached. Maybe the motivation is fear. Maybe it has something to do with our expectations. We need to check.

I haven’t ridden a Ferris wheel in a long, long time. I am simply admiring this one from a distance for now. I have taken several photographs of it, but this one is special somehow because of the lesson that is behind it – catching myself in time before falling for the ‘not and never, ever good enough’ trap.  The other thought behind this image is the perspective of ‘beginning and ending’, and that one doesn’t really diminish the other, or is better or worse. It just is.  It is like the shape of a circle; the motion of  a circle turning round and round, changing everything as it goes, constantly beginning and ending, creating endless possibilities.  A potential, always present.

Before I started writing this, a friend’s facebook status gave me a bit of light and I thought it was good to use here:  Anything and everything is possible.

It made me smile.

With the rise and fall, with the ups and downs, anything and everything is possible.

Mirror Bird

Mirror Bird by creative_jen
Mirror Bird, a photo by creative_jen on Flickr.

I love this mirror bird. I love the way it seems as if I released her from the itouch and she stretched, and arched in sweet delight and spread her wings to fly.

This is by far the best bathroom I’ve been to in a cafe. It had its own speakers; the clear sound of water, a river passing through rocks, bird song, and what sounded like a light breeze and the dancing and swaying of leaves brushing against each other. It gave this cozy space a sense of calm and a sense of cleansing. Great, right? Brick wall, pebbles in the sink (as filter), plants, little love notes, pretty birds everywhere, some lavender soap, a gentle and forgiving light so that when you look at yourself in the big and very clean mirrors it’s not horrific and harsh fluorescent white.

I can’t believe I managed to remember what was painted in script on one wall:

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

I agree, we shouldn’t worry. At all. The simple Buddhist rule about worry is: Don’t.

But, I do not think we are more valuable than the birds or the ants. We are all held in equal value, each one with a purpose that serves another.

The Photo-Heart Connection is something I now look forward to participating in every month. It feels like going to church or to a special temple where you can reflect on the images or events of your life and have a deeper appreciation for everything. The challenge, though, is having to choose what image speaks to your heart the most. All my images have my heart in them; and most of them have a story.  So, sometimes it’s a little difficult to just choose one to share, or find that one moment truly special. But that’s what it’s all about to begin with.  That is part of the challenge; to not only use our eyes, we also need to truly listen.

I feel so much for this photo because of the message, the moment, the bird and the marks on her body and wings. I see how I am expressing all these different parts of myself and I also realize here that I am so tuned in and listening. I wish all of you many days like this. I wish all of you the kind of smile I have on my face to be the kind of smile that could have a place in your heart.

Perhaps we are all mirroring each other. Perhaps our surroundings are mirroring our minds. May we find moments that are very much like the churches or temples we desire to seek refuge in; where it is so quiet, the messages are loud and clear.

The month of March felt like a huge chunk of it was about Two Takes. A class that has had a huge impact on my growth as an artist. Wow. What an amazing experience! You can have a look over here if you like. May I add that I am surrounded by very brave and very soulful women, and that is such a gift! So, thank you to you, those who are in Two Takes, and, thank you Tracey Clark and Bindu Wiles – you are my heroes. Thank you for your generosity, light, and wisdom.

Another thing about March – I realized how much I love ‘prompts’! They are truly the much needed spark for one’s creativity! Doesn’t this all tie in? I’m a happy mirror bird for being featured here and, naturally, I want to share it with you because I want you to be brave in all those steps you are taking in becoming who you are.

I want to leave you something from Neale Donald Walsch:

The universe is conspiring in your favor. It is placing before you in every moment all of the right and perfect people, circumstances, and situations with which to answer life’s only question:  Who am I.

Have you decided yet?

Happy Easter everyone! May it be a meaningful one; big or small, whatever race or religion, whatever situation.