August 31, 2010

redefining ourselves

Lately I have been thinking about the ways in which we continue to redefine ourselves throughout our lives. about how we are fearful of living up to the world's expectations of our existing roles, no longer identify with a role we once played, or long to try on a different persona but are afraid of potential failure or criticism.

so often i hear creative folks say, "oh, i am not an artist". and yet they are creating "art" all of the time (i get that the very definition of art can be argued for hours but i believe in the really inclusive ones that are out there). simply put, if you make art, then you are an artist. it is out of your control as to whether the world perceives you as a "good artist" or a "bad artist" but you can still claim the title of artist, you are "entitled". just like if you run you are a runner, no matter how fast. if you dance, you are a dancer no matter how silly, write you are a writer and on and on...

so here I am more than halfway through the first year that I have taken on the new role of "photographer". I have no formal training and am completely confused by, and am honestly rather uninterested in, the technical side of it. I do not take pictures for a living nor do I currently aspire to. however, I am finding that by simply redefining what it means to be a photographer in my mind, I have created room for myself in this identity and i am happy here.

The camera is one more medium that allows us to express ourselves when words fall short. I am particularly enjoying exploring what can happen at the intersection words and images. Though I certainly don't feel confident in this new role, I am having fun discovering a new side of myself in it.

I encourage you to think about a new role you would like to step into, try it on for size, and see what happens. and make sure to tell someone about it. the feeling it gives you might be contagious.

August 30, 2010

surprise revelers

when was the last time someone surprised you with their "other life"? recently, one of my clients fell victim to my own stereotyping tendencies. at first glance, he came across as a friendly middle-aged computer geek. one, because that is really who he is, happily helping people to fix their utterly frustrating computer problems is his occupation. two, because his exterior image lines up perfectly with what most would expect from someone who does this job. go ahead, picture him.

so on the first night of class I always ask clients to name three things that bring joy into their life, outside of the hobby or passion driving their entrepreneurial pursuits. i then encourage them to keep honoring these commitments/hobbies/likings, because attempting to make your livelihood out of your only hobby can unfortunately become a killjoy.

this particular gentleman shared with me that he is in a marching band on the weekends. i liked that answer. and so i pictured him marching along in stride with his well- rehearsed bandmates, all sporting polished shoes, shiny buttons, and synchronized feet.after a little more digging, I got him to send me a link to watch his marching band on you tube and finally got the real picture of his band life. simply put, it is unbridled,fantastic, true revelry. silliness and chaos. and what looks like a damn good time. again, i love it when people surprise me.

if you like, check out a quick clip for yourself. one more reminder of how few of us really reside within the stereotypes we cast. i bet if you asked a few folks some pointed questions, you could find some pretty good surprises around you too.

August 29, 2010

sunday snapshot

above are just a few of the hundreds of mushrooms we encountered on the loop trail in Montreat this morning. it was a perfect sunday morning, spent reveling in the wonders of nature.
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August 27, 2010

through feeding her family, she feeds herself

community hand, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

Today I was with a dear friend, visiting her family plot at the Black Mountain Community Garden. With three little ones in tow, amidst the overflowing vines of cherry tomatoes, the seedlings of beets and impending potatoes, and shadowed by the spent stalks of gigantic sunflowers, she conveyed to me how this garden has morphed into a sanctuary for her this summer.

arriving distracted and disheveled, it ushers her into presence
arriving on days with lingering illness, it helps to restore her
arriving uncertain of her skills, it's community offers answers
arriving spent, she departs full

in this garden lies her own seeds of restoration and connection. I am so proud of what she is cultivating there, way beyond just what's for dinner tonight, though that in itself is worth the effort.

August 26, 2010

our beloved baraka

our beloved baraka, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

if only this puppet could talk. she has seen quite a bit in her day.

a galimoto from ten thousand villages

galimoto, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

see made in africa, with love post below

made in africa, with love

Made from recycled soda cans in Kenya

African good luck charm made from raffia, beads, cloth, and wire in Ghana by Global Mamas

Yes I support buying local and making sure that artists in the creative community I live in are able to make a decent living, but today's post is to honor my love for beautiful handmade creations that travel around the world, create global connection, and honor other cultures in a way that simply makes me giddy, like a child on Christmas morning. I revel in the ingenuity and resourceful nature evident in so many of these treasures.

Once a month I lead a group of volunteers at a Ten Thousand Villages fair trade store in unpacking a shipment, and without fail, each time we all have to take pause in our unwrapping and processing of items to revel in the marvelous creations and innovations produced by our friends around the world. often the items arrive wrapped in newspaper from the country the item was made in through which you can catch a glimpse into the day-to-day life of the artisans- advertisements of hair products and upcoming soccer matches in india, or glimpses of wedding celebrations or new businesses opened in peru.

So, in line with one of the intentions of this blog, to honor creations- both of others and my own- I plan to feature a few of these unique worldly treasures each month. this month the images are of items from Africa. baraka and the galimoto have lived in my home for many years and are both very well-loved, and the two just above I purchased today with delight and gratitude for their playful spirits and clever craftsmanship. I celebrate the small role I get to play in helping to escort these creations to their final destinations and to imagine all of the compassionate hands that have been a part of their journey.

August 25, 2010

"can i touch it?"

don't be afraid to touch it, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

can i touch it? a great, simple sounding question and yet is one we continue to ask ourselves and those around us all throughout life, the "it" just changes form. as we face challenges, turn corners, or dare to look within, we ask: is it going to be painful when I touch it? will it feel good? will it tickle? will it bite? will it recoil? will it embrace? will it disappear? is it really there?

determining what to touch and what to leave respectfully untouched is something many of us will never fully reckon. but i think we must continue to ask the question as we stand at the threshold, take pause to balance our reverence and our curiosity, and if we listen with our hearts we will generally get the right answer.

August 24, 2010

on the day you were born

on the day you were born, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

see idaho moon for comment

idaho moon

idaho moon, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

Tonight, as I look at the full moon, I have three tributes to pay:

First, to my dear friend who sent me this picture of her view last night under idaho's big sky. she and her family, including her husband, three little girls, and their pets, made a recent decision to follow their hearts and move to Idaho for a year to be surrounded by nature and each other. to slow down and simplify. to surrender to the calls of the wild. to consciously seek out moments of revelry and grace, i would say. i am so proud of her and all who respond to the stirrings within that urge us to make a change.

second, i also look upon tonight's full moon with a swollen heart, filled with sadness for an old friend's loss of her sister this week to cancer. Her dear older sis would have been 40 years old tomorrow and leaves behind two small children. She and her sisters lost their mom this past year to cancer.
in honoring nature's cycles tonight, i can't help but struggle with finding anything rhythmic, poetic, or meaningful in this family's profound loss. though I know that peace lies somewhere beyond for all of us, and i hope a wave of it will journey into their hearts and offer some salve.

third, i can't witness a full moon without thinking of the night my daughter was born and how the natural world had never come so alive before to me. The picture posted is from the full moon page of the children's book On the Day You Were Born that was given to us by my family. I cherish it so much and recommend it to anyone who reveres nature and needs a gift to give to a new born.

August 23, 2010


revelry and grace intersect.

"I'm fine" wait..... "help me"

budding artist, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

Today while little one was working to cut up papers I asked her how she is doing and she replies "I'm fine". Two seconds later she says "help me". I chuckled at how she had summed up what I think it means to be two years old in a matter of seconds.

However this normal daily interaction gave me reason to pause today because I really do think there is so much life truth in these two little sentences and so much of the time we,as adults, struggle to say either one. We oscillate in the in-between of these two simple phrases throughout our days, often afraid to ask for the help we really need or are swirling too fast to realize how much we have and how "fine" we really are.

As someone who loves words and language so much, to pause and boil emotions down into simple two word statements is a challenge. However, I am appreciative to have my two year old be the one teaching me about communication from time to time.

i'm tired.
help me.

August 22, 2010

what's in store?

what's in store?, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

This was my fortune last night at the end of a delicious dinner at Doc Chey's. Those words fill me with simultaneous feelings of excitement and bewilderment. I love (and hate) how elusive they are. monkey mind says: which efforts? and what type of results? and when will I see them? and yet at the same time I experience a sense of ahhhhh...... okay. let go. let it unfold. keep ticking away and those aha moments will rise in their own due time.

there are a thousand cliches i could write here about the challenge to stay in the present, and lately I continue to find myself in conversations with girlfriends where the main topic always circles back to this same point. but when will i finally listen? will an awfully dry cookie manufactured on the other side of the world carrying a little affirmation be what finally gets me to practice what i so easily preach? doubt it. but i like little signs and will take them wherever they appear.

August 21, 2010

August 20, 2010

touching base

touching base, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

so many folks out there, many of whom I have never met face-to-face have inspired me to create this space. and I know that in coming days I will begin to add in links to all of the other people, places, and sources of inspiration that feed me but today i want to start right here at home. and touch base. something I think that we all need to do with some sort of regularity.

back in the winter of this year i participated in susannah conway's truly special unravelling course, a gift i gave myself in order to honor the healing process i was going through from a long illness. i took this photo in my bathroom mirror while my daughter slept and my husband was at work. what an indulgence it felt like to be in front of the mirror, with only a camera, in the middle of a weekday. and as i lulled the inner critic to sleep, I began to reflect on the reflection. i felt a stirring occur. a coming home. a witnessing. something tangible began to shift and a long dormant voice began to speak to me. we have to start with ourselves. no matter how broken or tired or dulled. it is the only way to really love anyone or anything else. i know i knew this in my head but it was a hell of a lot different beginning to know this with my heart.

August 19, 2010

heart voyage to zanzibar today

zanzibar3, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

family pride. i am feeling it so strongly today. these photos were all taken by my little sister who is on her african odyssey at the moment. today she and my father met up in dar salaam to travel back to zanzibar. a place i know nothing about and yet i am certain i would love. turquoise water. i need nothing else really. but then you add their two adventurous, charismatic spirits surrounded by culture and beauty and a few unstructured, unencumbered days together and I would rather be no place else in the world. i relish in this daydream escape from my real life day of tending to a so sweet and so sick two year old topped with molars ripping through her gums. again, she too makes my heart swell with family pride, though in quite a different way.
savor these days dad and molly. we long for your stories.


swirling, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

I am still swirling about what I want this blog to be for me and for others so I thought I would start with an image of simple pleasure and natural beauty- an intersection of revelry and grace.

So what propelled me forward to create this space?

a longing for connection.
for insight and perspective.
for musings and delight.

a desire to seek and bear witness.
to spark and be sparked.
to release and reprieve.

What I know is that I will never pretend to be capable of going through my days alone, although alone time is what I so deeply crave. So I thought to bring myself here is a way to honor both- solitude and connection.

August 18, 2010

what do these words mean to me?

revelry: indulgement, celebration, wallowing, and my favorite, unbridled merrymaking.

grace: effortless beauty or charm of movement, a reprieve, mercy, to make more attractive by adding adornment or color, and finally, divine love and protection.

these words met each other in my heart a few months ago and have formed a palapa that provides me shelter and inspiration. together they encompass what i strive for, honoring the journey while enjoying the ride.

August 17, 2010

one teeny tiny step

I posted the following comment on doorway traveler's site yesterday in response to her simple yet stirring question, what do you want? I decided that I would take it to heart and use those words to take this first leap of my own. my first post. here it goes. short and to the point:

less longing more laughter
less clutter more space
less fear more leaping
less criticizing more connecting
less shadow more light