Archive for July, 2011

re-picturing STORIES

What role do you play in your story?



After I took this (failed) self-portrait today, I was struck by two things. First, I need to get a remote control if I want to take self-portraits without cursing and gnashing of teeth. Second, although not my intention, this self-portrait revealed something telling about my relationship with time. As the nice little blur from the photo reveals, I couldn’t sit still long enough to let the camera do its work, just as I often can’t pause long enough to savor the moment, to be lost in what I’m doing, or to soak up the present.

As I continue on this journey of re-picturing women, representing “real” women with words and photos, I am struck by how women do anything and everything to bend the rules when it comes to time. Don’t get me wrong. With the many demands on our time – work, family, cooking, cleaning, mowing, trying to fit into our clothes, creative ventures (if we’re lucky) – something has got to give.  There simply aren’t enough minutes in an hour, hours in a day, or days in a week to get it all done.

I have little to no respect for time and the feeling is mutual. The faster I try to push time, the faster it pushes me. Last week, I noted that most activities take 3 X longer than I think they will. However, this knowledge does little to stop me from pulling out pen and pad, making lists of often 30+ items, and prioritizing all of them as “must dos” ASAP. Of course, I never get these activities all done and I am left feeling impatient, incompetent, out of sorts. When I have the weight of the next step bearing down on me, it is very difficult to enjoy the activity that is right in front of me. I don’t enjoy cooking when I’m thinking about the dirty dishes that inevitably follow. I don’t get into the flow of running when I’m thinking about how quickly I’ll need to return home to shower. Writing a manuscript (or blog post or whatever) isn’t much fun when I think of the next three I need to finish when I’m done with this one.

So, I use little tricks – I say tricks because it gives the illusion that we can do it all – when in actuality like all illusions, realistically we can’t. Multi-tasking – doing two or more activities at one time – for example, cooking dinner, responding to e-mails, washing dishes, and talking on the phone – is one such trick – a frenetic flurry of activity that makes us feel like we’re getting a lot done and makes us crazy at the same time.

Like a runner who somehow missed her turn (probably because she was so focused on finding the finish line) and is now running down the wrong road and doesn’t realize that the race ended hours ago. She’s tired, she’s getting no where fast, but she can’t stop because she’s got to finish this race, damnit!

I wonder what would happen if I tried to take one step at a time. Might I be able to create just a little time, a little space, a little stillness for me?

What would your self-portrait reveal about you?


Truths from my Journey

I’m celebrating my birthday today. It’s not actually until next Tuesday, but July 19th did not neatly fall on a weekend, so the party (yes, party) we planned either had to fall a few days before or after. Oh, did I mention that its not just A  birthday, it’s one of the “BIG” ones. Even though it will pass just like any other birthday or any other day for that matter, it has been the catalyst for a yearning of my spirit to find some significance in growing older, some meaning in where my life has been and where it is going.

As I remember the happenings of the past decade and dream about the possibilities of the next, instead of focusing on outward, external accomplishments (e.g., my life list), I find myself turning inward, trying to grasp what I know for sure, aching to articulate my own personal truths from my journey. These are my truths right now at this moment. They don’t necessarily reflect the truths from the past decade, although some do. I’m not sure that I’ll carry all of them into my future journey with me, but some I will. However, this is a picture of my truths, right now.

1)   Everyone just wants to be heard

2)   The Universe has room for all of us

3)   Running feels better than not running

4)   I need 8.5 hours of sleep, even though I try to convince myself otherwise each night

5)   Always order what the house specializes in at restaurants (i.e., don’t order a salad at a burger joint)

6)   Most things take 3 times longer than I think they will

7)   The only predictable thing about crazy people is their craziness

8)   Aperture priority rules

9)   Self-love is a work in progress

10) My dog will always have to tinkle right before Penn State is about to score

11)  Always wait a few days to step on the scale after vacation

12) My partner and I will always fight on the first day of a trip

13) Follow your gut, it never lies

14) True friends are willing to have the difficult conversations

15) Reclaim the moment because life is simply a smattering of moments

Even if you don’t have a BIG whatever coming up, might you be able to find some grounding in your own personal truths?

Photographer: Tom Tiegs


self-consciousness and creativity

Consciousness (defined): the state of being conscious; aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, and surroundings.
I struggle to create and maintain consciousness in my everyday life. Some of the time it’s just easier to go on auto-pilot. Awake, work, home, sleep. Repeat.
Do you spend much time being conscious? Really conscious. In the moment. Breathe.
One reason we may avoid consciousness is that it sometimes transforms into its not-so-nice, rarely invited cousin, self-consciousness.
Self-consciousness (defined): The state of being excessively aware of being observed by others.
Instead of being captured by the moment, we become hyper-vigilant to how we appear to others. As if someone is taking a photograph,  up-close and personal, magnifying every wrinkle, imperfection, insecurity. Do I look OK? He’ll think I’m stupid if I ask that silly question. Everyone is staring at me.
One way that I remain conscious without becoming self-conscious is by immersing myself in the river of delight. I try to savor the activities that I love — photography, drinking good wine and eating good food, running, writing, talking with friends, playing music — without judgment. Not my own or the (often imagined) judgment of others.
What can you do today to become conscious?


I want to give a shout out to the Team at Loving the Run (my favorite running blog) where my post on the Journey is featured today! Happy 4th of July weekend!