Friday, May 24, 2013

Joy Still Coursing Through

I’m still joyfully coursing through Vivienne McMaster’s Be Your Own Beloved: Self Care through Self Portraiture course. The photo above was taken as part of an attempt at studying movement and stillness. I wasn’t at all sure how this was going to go….it has been some time since I stopped thinking of myself as being  skilled at movement. Thinking of capturing my movements in a photograph was a dubious task, or so I thought.

The results of the experiment thought otherwise. I came out with some very stunning specimens (if I do say so myself).

It reminds me to:

Keep moving

Keeping smiling

Keep chasing dreams

Saturday, May 11, 2013


I love reflections. I seek them out. I document them when I find them. So finding an opportunity to photograph my reflection seemed like a piece of cake.

It wasn’t. Reflections were elusive. The few that appeared remained impervious to attempts at photographing them. My daughter didn’t seem to have any trouble finding her shot.

What to do? It seemed like brass instruments would reflect strongly enough to capture in a photo. Our music teacher met my request with a smile. He handed me a trumpet, worn with years of student handling. Trumpets are a bevy of reflective surfaces. Some reflect images right side up and other parts upside down.

It felt at home in my hand, that trumpet. My grandfather was a trumpet player. When I was a kid and told my friends that my grandfather had run away and joined the circus I always hoped they wouldn’t ask what he did there. I had conjured up visions of clowns, trapeze artists or men in cannons in their minds. Playing the trumpet didn’t sound nearly as romantic. It was pointed out to me, however, that it was more romantic than shoveling up after the elephants. Even I had to admit that that red wool jacket with the gold braid did cut a dash.

He played with the Navy band and played with John Phillip Sousa. His trumpet saw some travel and a great deal of use. Having said that, I never heard him play his trumpet, nor did I ever see it. It belonged to his wild, traveling youth I suppose.

My father, he played the trombone. It was an instrument I saw and heard plenty of. My parents both played the piano. They enjoyed playing duets together. Sometimes Dad played his trombone, sometimes the lower notes of the piano. It was always a happy sound.  

Dad played in the marching band in high school. He is proud that his band was one of the first using lights on their hats to create lighted marching formations at football games. He remembers fondly shooting spitballs out of his trombone slide.

Family mythology states that my brother decided to take up the trombone, but was given five bucks to switch to the piano. You can’t trust family mythology, though. If you did, you’d believe that I showed up on the doorstep wrapped in newspaper, which I think would have been much more convenient to my mother than to have to go out into a terrible electrical storm for my delivery. Sisters can’t always be trusted with telling the facts.

I look at this picture of me reflected in the trumpet and I think of my family and how their love surrounds me just like the light that wraps around me. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Be Playful

With the admonition to "be playful" when taking my self portrait, I went out walking in Providence last weekend. When I came upon Big Nazo Lab, I knew I'd found the whimsical feeling I needed to invoke a sense of playfulness. As you can see, the guy in back of me is green with envy. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Season of Nourishment

At this months staff meeting we were instructed in how to use a new online source of Professional Development (PD). Our instruction was partly the mechanics of using this new resource and partly expanding our vision of its application. After watching a video we were instructed to go to our own computers, find the area for reflections on the video and add our thoughts. Our participation is tracked and viewable to our school community.

I filled out my reflection and clicked on the submit button. Looking at my score board, I found that no matter how many times I punched that button and regardless of the vigor with which I did so, it obstinately declared that I had never filled out a reflection, no matter how small. Finally I noticed that underneath my reflections was another section.  It is a section that will only open after a certain amount of time. It is a place to reflect about how watching the video has affected our practice over time.

I felt this was a good analogy to the way I feel about the value I have received from Yota Schneider’s course “The Practice of Letting Go.” While I got so much out of it while I was in the process, I find that the depth of what I learned is only manifesting itself in my consciousness as I settle into my new way of relating to the way my life is unfolding.

Going into the experience I was sure that I would have to let go of my insistence of getting back to writing. I had not found a way to fit it back into my schedule in a meaningful way for some time. I feared this would be my burden to bear. It wasn’t.

Before we begun I felt I was looking for a way to return to things the way I wanted to be. I suppose you could say that I wanted to get my way. What I got instead was a great acceptance of the parameters of my life as it is. The joy that is inherent in my life has become more clear and I am much more relaxed. I didn’t expect that.

Oddly enough the opportunity for concentrated writing time has suddenly appeared…at least for now. Now that I have the time I sit in front of my notebook or keyboard I am paralyzed. I have no idea where to start. So the start is here. Sitting with the computer open in a library I had not known existed six seeks ago. Sitting in a private study room with a view out the window. Typing words onto the screen, deleting them again, typing more. Sometimes the words I type the second time around are the same ones typed the first time. I type them until they feel right. Not perfect. Right.

Significantly, it became apparent that I was pushing too hard before I was actually ready. So I decided to own up to it and bow out for the nonce.

Oddly enough, this was accompanied by the strong feeling that it was the perfect time to take another course with Vivienne McMaster. This time I signed Treasure Teen and myself up for Be Your Own Beloved. It’s a course in self-care through self-portraits. The course I took last summer changed the way I take photographs. It was a lot of fun. BYOB is a very nurturing environment to explore photography. The photograph above was taken to represent something that nourishes me – tea in a travel mug to accompany me on my forty five minute commute.

These two courses were perfect for me in this season.