Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Do I Have to Kill Myself?

Deconstruction, Self-portrait  in White
Cathedral Park, Portland, OR
The concept of killing my 
“self” has crossed my mind.  There have been times when I have been so confused and so down that if a meteor came out of the sky and hit me on the head and took me to the next plane, that I wouldn’t mind. No, I never plotted a suicide… at least, not a bodily one.  I just didn’t want to be “here” like “that.”  The more I learned about my “self” and my “ego” the more I thought that I just might have to kill it.  But lately, I’ve been looking at all this in a different way.  I am being taught to have compassion for my ego/self.  Now, when a destructive or sabotaging thought comes into my head, I stop and realize that it is my ego. Then I kind of talk to my ego (in my head, mostly) the way I would talk to a little girl who is acting out because she is afraid or wants love. So maybe, it is not about killing anything, but loving it so much that it feels less threatened. I have always had a really hard time accepting  less than perfect or wounded aspects of myself… until now and I can feel a big difference in my life. How can I expect others to love me unconditionally or me love them that way, when I can’t even love myself that way?  And, if I only love what I perceive to be good about me, well, that’s conditional.  Sometimes, when I do my gratitude list, after all the “obvious” blessings, I list those things about me that I would otherwise beat myself up for… ie: my jealousy, my selfishness, my immaturity, my insecurity… and it makes me smile and feel loved in a way that I have really never known. I am happiest when I can feel grateful for it all, the good, bad and the ugly... it's truly all beautiful.

Here are a couple of videos of Byron Katie (click on Byron Katie) that I found extremely helpful on this journey. Hope you enjoy them too.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Following my bliss?

First Deconstruction Photo Session, Topanga Beach


In my last blog entry I included the photo from my practice session. I had just received the remote for my camera and wanted to check it out.  I did so in my backyard.  Now I had to commit to doing a photo session somewhere else. I didn't know why, but I knew I wanted to wear white for this series and after some procrastination one day I said, this is it, and I went through my closet rummaging through any white clothes I had, which was pretty minimal.  Finally, I found the white dress I wore for my wedding in Kauai in 2006 and decided to do the first session wearing it. 

After getting the nerve up, I drove to a beach that we take our dogs to in Topanga. Took my tripod and camera and walked down to the ocean.  It was mid week so there weren’t a lot of people.  I set my camera up and discovered that I left my remote at home. So… I did the next best thing and used the timer.  I set it on 10 seconds and then ran down to the ocean.  I didn’t focus my camera so by the time I got into place, the shutter fired and the image was blurred.  I really liked it that way and took several more photographs with that setting and then I did a little bit of focusing to get a clearer image.  I’m still undecided about which I like better.  At first I liked the blurred, because it seemed representative of how I was feeling about so much in my life, confused and unclear about my path in life.

I used to love to twirl in the sand at the beach.
I thought about calling this series “Self-portrait in White” but to me, these images were more than self-portraits and that title was kind of non-descriptive so I decided to call this series Deconstruction, with the sub title, Self-portrait in White, because that is what this process in my life feels like.  As I deconstruct the life that “was” I am reconstructing a life that “is.” And when I say ‘life”, that is just a safe way of stating; I am deconstructing and reconstructing 'me'.  This brings a beautiful quote by Joseph Campbell to mind, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” What does that mean?  Good question.  To me, it means a good long and honest look at myself.  Where is there suffering in my life and why do I consistently get in the way of allowing prosperity and consistent joy into my life or as JC would put it, my bliss? 

The more I delved into this process, the more I felt like a severely shaken snow globe, pieces floating every which way and falling to the ground in slow motion. The truth is, I still do, but I am now able to glean glimpses of the peace that comes with full acceptance of my “self.” I have to admit, I feel vulnerable sharing this information, but at the same time, I feel compelled to share this process and my hope is that anyone who is going through a similar phase or process will not feel alone and perhaps even encouraged to reconstruct their “Self” too. I will share what I am learning from the teachers I am studying from and from the road I am on now.  To close up today's entry I will share a thought I have been pondering: It is one thing to have a desire to be noticed, but it is a completely different thing, to let yourself be seen, truly seen, by your own eyes first. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Deconstruction, from the beginning.

Practice Session for Deconstruction, Self-Portrait in White

I was so inspired by DestinyAllison’s blog today, that I have decided to start writing about my experience over the last 6 months and post some images from Deconstruction, Self-Portraits in White, a series that is still in development.  I think it’s time to get really honest; naked honest… as that is the path I am choosing on so many levels in my life lately.  This choice does not come without necessary pain and navigation through what I'm learning to be, unnecessary suffering.  However, I believe it is a story that ends in ‘peace’ ever after. 

Deconstruction is a narrative self-portrait series about the stripping away of old beliefs and identities...mine, and the reconstruction of a belief system that opens the door to living a fulfilled life. The deeper I get into this series, the more is revealed. While I am learning that I have everything to do with creating my life, I am also learning I have very little to do with the creative process and ideas show up all hours of the day and night and if I listen and take their cue, I am fortunate enough to move forward in that creation.

This all started when I began to think of the next photographic series I would work on.  What cool subject can I come up with that will wow and interest viewers? What will sell? What will create a splash and get great recognition? Well, it doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to see how hungry and loud my ego was for attention, for acknowledgment, which is ironic, because when I created Beauty and Wisdom that ego had a very small voice and was hardly present or so I thought. When did wowing anybody even come into the picture? (No pun intended.) After months of jumping around from subject to subject, trying on different ideas, I was spent. Nothing felt right, nothing fit, and often I’d try something new and it didn’t feel like it was for the “right” reason. 

I have always known that I wanted my photography to be something that would add beauty into this sometimes-crazy world.  Beauty and Wisdom resonated with so many people and I found it fulfilling, lending images and voice to ageism and older women who I felt should be recognized for who they are and had become. They are amazing warriors to me and I felt passionate telling their story.  How could I find another subject that would feel as meaningful?  Or a better question should have been, how will a meaningful subject ever find me… again?

Cracked Reflection # 12
I never had the guts to do self-portraiture, nor did I ever think I would do that.  Me?  I take photographs of oceans, animals, landscape, cityscapes, people, women in beauty salons and the occasional photojournalistic narrative, but taking photographs of me? Never!  I should have known because just about every time that I have used the word “never” in my life, I have encountered that which I said ‘never’ to.  

I love to take photographs of things that make people feel good and that are beautiful. However, I began to feel that while the images I took photographs of were beautiful aesthetically, there was something missing.  It makes sense now, but then, I hadn’t a clue as to what was missing.  Now, I can see that what was missing was me.  Something in my soul was missing, something that I most likely have never had and thus began my quest to find out what that was.  This led me to consider taking photographs of myself.  I started by taking iPhone photographs of myself in the cracked mirror in front of our bed.  At first I wanted to replace the mirror but after I thought about it, it seemed perfect, the reflection of myself that I was seeing was cracked. I still take photographs with my iphone and post them on Instagram (Cracked Reflection series).  This was the beginning of exploring the deconstruction of myself and my art.