a few more things

One of the first images taken last night with my brand new Lensbaby.  I love it, but clearly, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I seriously cannot believe that today is already Friday.  Is it me, or did this week fly?  I feel like I ran out of time to tell you all about the stuff that happened. And so, I suppose, I'll just cram it all in here.

1.  It's official, I don't have a Victorian-era disease.  Remember last month when I thought I had consumption?  Well, since then, I haven't stopped hacking.  So finally, because I was tired of watching both Marcus and Alex recoil from me every time I collapsed to my knees in a coughing fit, I went to the doctor on Tuesday.  After thorough examination (including, no lie, a test for tuberculosis), it has been decided that I am not dying, but instead have "reactive respiratory disease."  Best I can figure, this is what doctors call asthma when they can't figure out what's causing the asthma.  "I'm going to prescribe you an inhaler to manage it," said my doctor.

"Manage it?" I responded.  "Thanks, but how do I cure it?"

"Move," she responded, without looking up from her prescription pad. "It's actually pretty common for people in Houston to get this after living here for a while."


2.  Alex got existential.  "Dad, we're art."

"We're art?"


"What do you mean, we're art?"

"You. Me. Mom.  Everybody's art."

"Oh.  Well, if we're art, who's the artist?"

"Da-a-a-d!  God's the artist."

3.  I had lunch with Naomi Wolf.  In a nutshell: she's lovely, and she made me think.  If you're interested in the long version, I wrote about it here.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

4.  I made an appointment to cut all my hair off again.  It's time. 


Update, 9:27 a.m.  I went back to the tree with the pretty pink flowers to try out the Lensbaby there:

This one was taken pretty straight on, without (intentionally) adding any warp.  The ones to follow were warped...

I seriously have NO idea what I'm doing, here.  Does anyone have any tips?


Update, 4:34 p.m.  I tried it out on Alex:

Hmm.  I dunno.  Still trying.


SongRevolutionary kind by Gomez

love thursday: reminders of love

I walked down to the end of my street yesterday to grab a few shots of this tree that's in full bloom -- and this particular image, for whatever reason, reminded me of love.  So I thought I'd share it with you today.

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

And may something beautiful make you think of love today.

SongI'm yours by Jason Mraz

looking up

"Every so often, I like to go to the window, look up, and smile for a satellite picture."

-- Stephen Wright


The next time I'm having a less-than-perfect day, I'm so doing that.

* * * * * * *

Thanks for participating in Alex's Authentic You Interview yesterday!  Random.org tells me that Chiada is the winner of Alex's beautiful print, Gypsy Tribe -- congratulations!  I'll e-mail you for your snail mail info.

Have a great day, everyone.  And don't forget: if it gets a bit rough ... look up.


SongFaith (Fame remix) as performed by Limp Bizkit.  I love the David Bowie they drop right in the middle.

authentic you interview series: alex de souza (and a giveaway!)

When I went on my Oregon retreat last fall, I think the person I was most curious about meeting was Alex. I'd read her blog, Gypsy Girl's Guide, before, so I knew she was from Brazil -- a country I've visited and fallen in love with in the past. Her writings are always so exuberant and full of life (so obviously I was drawn), and besides: I love meeting women named "Alex," since for completely illogical reasons I believe I'll see something in them that will reflect how my daughter Alex will be as an adult.

Alex was one of the first people I met at the Portland Airport and I was immediately intrigued by her amazing sense of style, coupled with her beautiful striking face, her quiet manner, soft Brazilian accent and her shy smile. I'm usually a pretty good judge of character, and my initial reaction was she seems quiet and shy, but I don't buy it. This woman is strong. She's fearless.

Over the course of the few days, I learned I was right: she left her home of Sao Paolo at a very young age (17!) to travel the world -- alone. She hardly spoke any English (although she speaks it impeccably now), and eventually settled in the United States, where she now lives with her husband, in San Francisco.

At one point during that weekend in Oregon, Alex and I were coupled together to do a coaching exercise led by Andrea, and I asked her to name a person she admired. "My mother," she immediately responded. "She's exactly who I wish I was. She's a Gentle Warrior."

I burst out laughing.

"What?" she asked, with a confused smile.

"Woman, you're ALREADY IT," I said, still giggling. "After having spent time with you these past couple of days, if I had to come up with a phrase to describe you, that perfect phrase would be 'Gentle Warrior.' Congratulations. Mission accomplished!"

Needless to say, I adore Alex. Since that time, she quit her full time job to pursue photography and writing full time, and a couple of weeks ago, I asked her if she would participate in my Authentic You Interview Series (based somewhat on the famous Proust questionnaire). I'm so happy she said yes.  Not only that, she's offered to take part in a giveaway, as well -- but more about that at the bottom of this post.

And so now, without further ado, I introduce you to Alex:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Living in a house facing the ocean on an tropical island with my love. It's 75-80F all year round. There are colorful fishing boats on one end of the beach, and on the other end, a decent surf break. It's only a 15 minute walk to the quaint little village, where we shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. We both work on our creative projects remotely and we also teach and take an active role in the local community. Not much to ask, no? :)

2. What is your greatest fear? Losing RC, my love. And losing my mother. Equally scary!

3. Which living person do you most admire? My mother. She is the most genuine, loving, kind, curious and artistic person I know.

4. What trait do you most deplore in yourself? I tend to over-think too much instead of just acting. I'm a daydreamer, what more can I say? ;)

5. What trait do you most deplore in others? Dishonesty and betrayal.

6. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Seriousness. We all need to lighten up for 'goodness sake'!

7. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I really do have 2 huge loves in my life: my husband & my travels. But... shhh.. Now I'm having a love affair with Photography too!

8. Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I could play a few instruments (guitar, piano, cello, violin) and that I could sing with a sweet, soft, jazzy voice.

9. What is your current state of mind? I'm pretty mellow. Just really enjoying the moment and these questions while I listen to my newest favoritest CD: "She & Him."

10. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Traveling around the world on my own, and creating a pretty good life for myself - from scratch - in a foreign country.

11. What is your most treasured possession?
I am pretty detached from material things. I guess I learned to let go because I moved around so much... I travel light in this life :) But there are several little trinkets that are part of my "medicine bundle" so to speak... They have been with me for the past 20 years no matter what. Among these little treasures are some faded photographs of my family and friends, my great grandmother's prayer book, some ancient Russian fortune telling cards, a tiny blue ganesha and some scribblings of mine. I also treasure my music more and more these days. What did we do before ipods?

12. What is your superpower? I have such strong intuition. If I am centered and open, I can have a pretty spot on predicament of a situation or a person.

13. Who is your favourite hero of fiction? Jane Eyre as a classic complex character comes to mind.

14. Who are your heroes in real life? Those who are passionate, follow their dreams and make things happen, make things better... Also those who give themselves up for love.

15. What is your motto? Anything is possible.

16. What do you most value in your friends? Unconditional love that transcends time and space. Nothing like a friend who can see you for who you truly are and can comfort you anytime and anyplace, no matter how long you've been apart.

17. Which word or phrase do you most overuse? LOVE. I love this and I love that. I love love love. I love to say love.

18. What is your greatest extravagance? Plane tickets, gourmet dinning & camera equipment. Those three things alone can pretty much empty my bank account!

19. What is the quality you most like in a woman? Passion and grace.

20. What is the quality you most like in a man?
Sincerity and a sense of humor.

21. On what occasion do you feel the most authentic?

When I am traveling and taking photographs in faraway exotic lands and when I am at home, being kid silly with my husband.

* * * * * * *

As I told you, she's enchanting. And as if she hasn't shared enough, she's offered to give away an 8 x 10 giclee print of "Gypsy Tribe," found here. Simply leave a comment answering the following question:

What is your most treasured possession?

One comment per person, please, and I'll pick a commenter at random. Entries will be closed at midnight, Wednesday, January 28.

And finally, I'll leave you with the following reminder from Alex: "We choose our way. We can reinvent it over and over. We have the power to create our lives."

SongThe long way around by the Dixie Chicks.  Today's song brought to you by Alex, the Gentle Warrior.

through the viewfinder: your (extra)ordinary life

When I called my very short post this past Friday, "returning to (extra)ordinary," I added the "(extra)" sort of as a flippant afterthought -- one that stayed with me for the rest of the day.

I had been running around trying to find a subject for a photograph -- any subject.  I was walking around our neighbourhood, our back yard, and our house.  I was thinking to myself, that's it.  I've run out of things to shoot.  There is NOTHING IN MY LIFE WORTH CAPTURING WITH THIS CAMERA.  And as I was perfecting the ideal woe-is-me attitude, my thoughts turned to an interview I'd seen recently of Michelle Obama. 

I'd joined the interview in the middle of it, and it appeared to be about how Mrs. Obama was going to maintain an "ordinary" life for her children, now that they had moved into the White House.  At one point, she said, "I understand that we'll make some sacrifices now that Barack is President.  But you know what?  We'll get to eat dinner together as a family every night now.  We haven't been able to do that in over a year."

On listening to this, many thoughts came to mind; however, the prevailing one was, yeah, that might be true, but your "ordinary" family dinners include the President of the United States as a regular attendee.  But then I realized that what appeared very extraordinary to me, on some large level was very, very ordinary for Mrs. Obama.

I realized that the same was true of the lives of so many people I follow on the internet.  I look at the images uploaded by my friend Irene, and think with awe, how extraordinary that she lives her everyday life in Paris.  I eagerly comb through all the posts of Smitten Kitchen, a recent new addiction, and think how extraordinary that this couple have afforded themselves a life where they create these amazing dishes -- together! -- and then get to photograph and write about them.  I check out the stories told by my beautiful friend Hula about her life in Portland with her equally-fabulous illustrator husband and their family, and think how extraordinary that their children get to grow up surrounded by so much art, and raised by such artistic parents.  I even read Tash's site and marvel how extraordinary that she wakes up every morning in the Caribbean -- even though I had the same life a little less than 2 years ago, myself!

The truth is that each of our very ordinary, everyday lives is, on some level, extraordinary -- we are usually just too close to the forest to see the trees.  I mean, when I stop to think about it, even though I live a relatively simple, ordinary life in Houston, Texas, how extraordinary that I get to spend my days doing what I love, and I get to be a member of this tiny, very close-knit family.  It turns out I'm quite lucky!

How about you?  Even given your ordinary, everyday life, think about it:  what makes your life extraordinary?

Song: Thank U, by Alanis Morissette