revving up

I found this one in the archives.  Photographed with Nikon D300, but I have no idea which lens I used.

When I was a kid, nothing really felt like the start of a new year like the first day of school.  In fact, January 1st always seemed like a bit of a let down; after all, all the new clothes, new school supplies, new grades started in the fall -- I was already working toward my goals, why make new year's resolutions now?

Apparently, old habits die hard:  I don't know if it's because Alex has started school this year, or because I just returned from a very soulful retreat, but I'm in full-on "new year's" mode:  this past weekend I finished up a photographic project I've been working on, and I'm now in the throes of redecorating my studio/office, as I get ready to start a few new projects.  I've created some new art for my studio/office recently, this weekend I painted some old IKEA shelves I had, and today I'm buying some paint to paint the walls this coming weekend (Ralph Lauren Beach Water, for what it's worth). 

I think the truth is that I'm fast approaching one year since I quit my job as a lawyer.  And this past year has been very good to me:  I've laid the foundation for some amazing opportunities ahead.  I think all this nesting is in preparation for greeting that anniversary with at least as much excitement and anticipation as when I started this journey.

And, frankly, I'm feeling pretty damned energized.


SongI will survive, as performed by Cake


little gifts

Beth's hands.  Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm lens.

Yesterday, I went to my friend Beth's house, to take a few photographs for her book.  I have to admit that I did not go over there in the best frame of mind:  this week I've been very overwhelmed with things I have yet to do that haven't been completed, and coupled with some news I received two days ago -- good news, but news which will require even more responsibility of me -- I walked into Beth's house a completely jangled nerve.

But Beth is one of those truly calming spirits, and within minutes, my stress melted away.  She made me a huge cup of tea -- from loose tea leaves, none of this teabag nonsense -- and cut me a slice of warm banana bread, which, judging from the heady scent of baking that was still in the air in her home, I knew was fresh from the oven.  We sat and talked, I shared what was going on my life, and she listened closely.  She cheered me on, encouraged me, and gave me advice.  And by the time I picked up my camera, my outlook on life had completely changed.

It was such a lovely reminder:  the little things we do for people can have such an impact on their spirits, can't they?  I think I'm going to have to pay it forward soon ...

... anyway, here's hoping someone gives you the gift of themselves this weekend.  And for those of you who are really good at this sort of thing, please keep it up:  it makes a huge difference.

Have a great weekend, everyone.


SongCome along with me, as performed by Lalah Hathaway and Joe Sample

love thursday: how i found what i love

Photographed with Nikon D300, 35mm lens.

"You've got to follow your passion.  You've got to figure out what you love -- who you really are.  And have the courage to do that.  I believe the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow your own dreams."

-- Oprah Winfrey

* * * * * * *

Today's Love Thursday entry is a bit different that what I usually share, but recently the topic of Following Your Bliss has been coming up around me a lot.  So because it's been on my mind so much, I thought today I'd try to memorialize my journey toward following my dreams.  I certainly wouldn't presume that my way would work for everyone; however, for what it's worth, here's how I figured out what I love:

1.  I made a list of everything I love to do.  I mean everything:  I love to scuba dive.  I love to eat.  I love to sing in the shower.  I love photography.  I love practicing my handwriting.  In law, I loved writing contracts (though not necessarily reading, or actually, negotiating them).  I loved making Powerpoint presentations.  I love public speaking.  I love watching Ghosthunters (don't judge me).  I love baking.  I love taking portraits.  I love being near the ocean. I love reading out loud to Alex.  I love reading good books.  I love ...  and the list went on and on.  I took a good half hour and literally wrote down everything I could think that I loved to do.

2.  Once I made the list, for the items I could, I broke them down even further.  For example, I mentioned I loved writing contracts -- so I thought to myself, what is it I like about writing contracts?  And then I wrote that down: I love taking a complex deal, and writing it so that the terms are easy to understand.  I love figuring out how to explain a deal in plain language.  I did this for everything I could: I love reading good books because I love watching how a really good author turns a phrase.  And I added it to my list.

3.  After everything was narrowed down, I started looking for patterns.  I started grouping together entries that were similar.  Eventually, I realized that 98% of what I loved could be categorized loosely into the following:

I love to speak.

I love to write.

I love to shoot (capture images).

4.  I gave up on "titles."  Initially, I really struggled with the fact that I didn't know what someone who "speaks-writes-shoots" was called -- it took me a long time to come to terms with this.  But then, after a few months, I realized that I didn't have to know what title would fit -- all that mattered was that I realized that those were the three things I love to do.  I also realized that I would never want to make a living doing only one of those things -- for me to be happy, it was important that I do all three. 

5.  I opened myself up to opportunities to do all three.  I started seeking out opportunities to do all three things, and building up a resume that could illustrate that I could do them.  I also became VERY picky about what gigs I would accept.  I've come up with some general guidelines:  (a) each opportunity needs to call on me to do at least two of the three things (including, you'll note, the upkeep of Chookooloonks), and most importantly (b) I do a gut check:  I've learned my instincts are generally spot on, so if it doesn't feel right, I don't do it.  Sometimes this means walking away from something that might be lucrative in the short term, but I learned early on that if I compromised on (b), I ended up regretting the experience (and often, so did my client). 

The result of my being so dogged about this is that more and more, the right opportunities come my way -- because I'm clear about what I enjoy doing, it's easier for the right prospects to find me.  And while I'm not making my lawyer salary quite yet, I'm a firm believer in the old adage, "do what you love, and the money will follow."  So, a year later, I remain patient, but also determined.

Also, I remain happy.  Which is very, very cool.

* * * * * * *

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.  Please leave your stories or the links to your words or images of love in the comments section below.  Also, if you've made some steps in determining and/or doing what you love, I'd love to hear that, as well -- I think we all would.  So please feel free to share below, as well.

And here's hoping you're following your bliss -- or at least taking steps to determine/do what you love.


SongGood fortune by PJ Harvey

going well

Anniversary flowers.  Outtake from the book. Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.

Alex is really enjoying kindergarten.  "I made even more friends today, Mummy!" she said gleefully as we started our walk home after school today.  I can't tell you how relieved I am.

My new method of journaling is making me productive -- and it's apparently also addictive.  I'm about to start my second journal.  I'm a woman on fire, man.

Marcus and I celebrated our second seventh anniversary this past weekend.  We went to our favourite restaurant.  It was lovely.

What's going well with you, lately? 


Song: I gotta feeling by the Black Eyed Peas

random thoughts: my old guitar

My old guitar.  Outtake from the book.  Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.

On Sunday, I decided to take out my old guitar, to shoot some images for the book.  I've had this guitar since I was about 11 years old -- I'd signed up for guitar lessons, and my father bought it for me to practice.  The lessons lasted only about 2 months, so I never really learned how to play.  But it's a beautiful guitar, and I've had it with me everywhere I've gone:  from middle school in Kingwood, Texas, to a convent high school in Trinidad, to College Station, Texas for university, back to (several different homes in) Houston, to London, again to Houston, to Trinidad, and back to Houston again.  We've been through a lot, this guitar and me.

The strange thing is, I'm not sure I can articulate what it is about this guitar that I cherish so.  I never taught myself more than the most rudimentary of chords, the guitar case is falling apart, and all it ever does is sit in dark closets wherever I happen to be living.  I'm not much of a packrat, and every move I've ever made always results in my purging my life of anything I don't currently use;  logic would therefore dictate that I'd have put this puppy up on Craigslist or Ebay and sold it a long time ago. 

But I could never sell it.  Maybe the reason it's so important to me is actually because I've had it for so long:  it's one of the few constants in my life over the past 30 years.  It's seen me through so many different stages; it's seen me evolve as I've grown up. 

And so, I keep it.  And regardless of what events may happen, where we might move, what changes might be ahead, I suspect my old guitar will be with me through it all.


Song: Hard time killing blues as performed by Chris Thomas King (from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack)


first day of kindergarten

Photographed with Nikon D300, 24-85mm lens.

Today is Alex's first day of kindergarten, at her new public school.  It's been very difficult to say goodbye to the fabulous Montessori school that Alex has been attending for the past two years (I ain't gonna lie:  there were tears, not the least of which were from both me and Alex's teacher), but all indications are that her new school has a wonderful reputation, so nowhere but up, baby.

So this morning, we got Alex all dressed up in her new back-to-school dress, packed a notebook and pencils in her new back-to-school backpack, lunch in her new back-to-school lunch bag, and juice in her new back-to-school Hannah Montana thermos, and headed out.

For the first two weeks of school I get to walk Alex directly to her classroom, thank heavens.  When I left her at her new little desk, she was clearly nervous, but ready.   We'd met her teacher last Friday, and she seems really lovely; we met a couple of Alex's classmates that day, as well, and they also seem sweet (and just as nervous as she is).

So here's hoping that Alex falls in love with her teacher, and makes at least one friend today.  I think odds are in her favour:  over the weekend, she lost another of her teeth -- one of the majors -- which I have to think ups her cool factor considerably.

Update, 3:23 p.m.:  On picking her up after school today:  "Mom, that was the best first day of school EVER!"


SongFirst day of school by the Imagination Movers

good people you should know

Photographed August 15-16, 2009 on the Oregon coast. Nikon D300, various lenses.

As my final post on my trip to Oregon, I thought I'd introduce you to the lovely women with whom I spent this past weekend.  We are all so different, and yet we all have at least two things in common:

1) We all make our living practicing art -- painting, photography, jewelry design, cuisine or writing; and

2) We all use our websites as a way to celebrate life.

If you don't know their sites yet, here they are, as shown above from left to right, top to bottom:

These are sites I would visit and read even if these women weren't my friends.  These are women who live out loud.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 


And on that note, have a great weekend, everyone.


Song: You are by Lionel Richie.  Because you really haven't lived until you've heard 13 women sing this at the top of their lungs.

love thursday

Manzanita beach.  Photographed with Nikon D300, 35mm lens.

What is it about beaches which inspire the drawing of hearts in the sand?  Call me crazy, but I really don't think it's a coincidence: there's something about the ocean that inspires people to profess their love.  And on this particular early morning walk, after having come across about half a dozen such declarations left from the night before, I decided to add my own heart to the mix.

* * * * * * *

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.  Please leave your stories, or links to your images or words of love in the comments below. 

And be sure to declare your love for someone today.


Song: Is this love by Bob Marley & the Wailers