focusing and daring greatly
I took the image above yesterday afternoon in my garden, using my 60mm macro lens. Aside from a bit of added contrast, I haven't processed the image very much -- the blur effect at the top and the bottom of the frame is exactly as it came out of the camera, and the resulting image is exactly how I'm feeling right now.
When taking a photograph with a macro lens, especially when shooting with the aperture wide open so that there's a shallow depth-of-field (yadda, yadda, yadda, annoying technical photography talk), getting your focus just right can often be a trick. Usually, when I'm focusing on something as tiny as the petals, above, I have to switch to manual focus, because the automatic focus just can't ... get ... the ... focal ... point ... exactly ... right. I barely touch the lens, gently adjusting to that one tiny spot ... forward... now back a little bit ... there.
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In this time between my crazy airline travel, I've been working a lot on my new venture, Lime Retreats. To be honest, I haven't experienced feeling this new at anything since I quit my law job 4 years ago -- and while I'm very excited about it, I have to admit it's a bit uncomfortable. With the blog, and public speaking, and even putting together articles and books, I've been on autopilot for a long time now: I know what I'm doing, and I know how I'm doing it. This, though, is a whole new thing, and as I begin putting together content, figuring out how to submit it to various state bars around the country to apply for accreditation, considering venues ... well, it's a bit terrifying.
Whenever I'm terrified, my fall-back coping mechanism is often to focus. It's the photographer in me, I suppose, but remembering what my Purpose is for Doing the Terrifying Thing, and honing in on that, while always making adjustments with my virtual macro lens, helps me to take baby steps ... forward ... sometimes back a little bit ... but eventually getting there.
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Recently, I've been receiving constant reminders of a quote my friend Mark once shared with me:
Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.
Mark said this several years ago when I was first leaving my law career. Admittedly, my experience has proven the truth of this adage: I've been stunned so many times when I've leapt, and the net indeed magically appeared. This time, the nets have come in the form of the synchronicity of friends having particular talents that can help make Lime Retreats happen, offers of potential sponsorships, and even a long, leisure breakfast with my former boss yesterday, where he gently but firmly gave me so much good advice, I had to pull out my journal and start taking notes. When coincidences and circumstances start to appear like this, I become more and more convinced that I'm on the right track.
And then a couple of days ago, I received this in the mail:
Daring Greatly is the brand-spanking-not-quite-released-yet book by my friend Brené Brown. (You may already know Brené's work through her previous book, The Gifts of Imperfection, or her runaway TED talk). In this new book, she talks all about how credit belongs to the person who, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt:
... at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly ...
In fact, Brené goes on to say:
Daring Greatly is not about winning or losing. It's about courage. In a world where "never enough" dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It's even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there's a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous and hurtful as believing that we're standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to show up and let ourselves be seen.
I love this, and I can't wait to read the rest of her book. I especially love the phrase "show up and let ourselves be seen" -- probably because, as a photographer, "seeing" is what it's all about for me. All I do know is that as I embark on this new adventure of mine, I suspect that the concepts of "daring greatly," and focusing on the tiny adjustments I need to make to get there, are going to be really, really important.
To that end: how do you make yourself do something that you're scared to do? Leave your comment below, and I'll pick one at random over the weekend to win a SIGNED copy of Brené's new book. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Song: Slave to the rhythm by Grace Jones. Because, dammit, if a 64-year-old woman can dare to get up on stage in front of a crowd of thousands and hoola-hoop her way through 4 minutes of singing a song, surely I can do this.