Viewing entries tagged
Zen master

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Photographic Sewing Circle Anyone?

This year has been difficult for me. I have always been a very straightforward, honest and transparent person. Ego and appearances are secondary to being authentic and sharing experiences so that I can grow and other people may too. So. This year has been difficult for me. I am trying to do something – many things actually – that haven’t really been done before. I don’t have a road map, and most days I feel like I’m driving blind (in a very large manual transmission bus, no less). I feel like what I am doing is important. In the most basic terms, I am trying to start a conversation. I want people to think about art as something accessible that can add value to their lives. The programming at the gallery, the online project The Ten, the ginormous Crusade tour idea, the blog posts and podcasts on the Crusade site – these are the actions to spark that dialog and thought process. The flip side is that these actions are also ways to help emerging photographers grow audiences for their work.

From the outside this may all sound very exciting and energizing and fun. Many days it is. But many days it feels like I am swimming against the tide. There are days when I sit at my computer and just hear “no” from everyone I reach out to. There are days when I meet with someone who tells me my idea is stupid, and I should just sell the bus and drive around Atlanta with photographs in my car. (But I had my son cast one of his newly-learned Harry Potter spells on that lady, so she’s got hers coming.)

I value community and collaboration above all else. That is a huge reason I am doing this. And the community that has come together through this Crusade project and formed a wonderful cushion of support and encouragement around me has been invaluable. But a really tough lesson I have learned is that I seem to be atypical. The resistance has been pretty intense and has come from some really unexpected places.

And so. This year has been really difficult for me. I feel very strongly about helping photographers and encouraging people to connect with art, but it takes a lot to steel yourself against daily set-backs and continue to move forward with faith and confidence in yourself and what you believe in.

Since my Zen master says to never let a good crisis go to waste (the “your idea is stupid, sell your bus” moment sent me into a bit of a tail-spin), I did make the photograph above to capture the crisis and then told myself to get my shit together.

And then the next day I had lunch with the most wonderful woman. She is going through some things that are much more difficult than finding funding for an art tour, but she has also been in my shoes with trying to change the tide of her photographic community. It was really great to be able to share and support and challenge each other. Collaboration. Community.

I think I need more of this in my life to off-set the lonely sitting-at-my-desk rejections, and so I had an idea (shocking, I know). It is an off-shoot of an idea she told me about that she participated in years ago. I want to start an in-person, regularly meeting, creative community of photographers (or just open, engaging, life-loving people – wow, that yoga is really getting to me!) in Atlanta.

The idea is to all work on a 365 project, a concept that fascinates me: you take a photograph every day for one year. I don’t believe in strict rules (I certainly don’t want to add another thing to my plate), so whether it ends up being a photograph a week or nothing for a month, the idea is just the intentionality. A way of looking at things. And sharing. Meeting with like-minded people to look at images, talk, support. . . like a modern-day, photographic sewing circle. A shutter circle! And of course, there would be wine.

I’ll let you know how it goes. And as is my way, if this appeals to you, please do it in your own community. We could all use a little support and encouragement.

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Morning Yoga Wisdom, Explained

If you follow me on Twitter (what?? You don’t follow me on Twitter. You are so missing out. I am both witty and wise. @Crusade4Art), you have noticed my “Morning Yoga Wisdom” tweets. Now I have never been a yoga person, claiming a life-long problem of not being able to clear my mind for even two consecutive seconds, but my Zen master (what?? You don’t know about my Zen master? Catch up people.) had been encouraging me to try it again. So. In January I joined a new gym, and coming off a New Years’ resolution to have more balance in my life, I decided to give it another go. And it’s been really great, for a couple of reasons. One, they play awesome music and it moves pretty quickly, so I don’t get too bored or mind-racey. Also, it’s at 7:15am. By the time I fully wake up, the class is almost over. (I also only go twice a week – I haven’t gone full yogi or anything.)

But in mid-February, one of the teachers said this during the laying-down-trying-not-to-fall-asleep time at the end, “Only listen to the opinions of the people who love you”. This hit at exactly the right time, and so I tweeted it. More and more, things stood out from class that seemed relevant to the rest of my life.

Life this year has been uniquely challenging. I’m taking on more than I ever have. The risk is high. I often feel exhausted and worn down. I am trying to do something without a roadmap, and that is hard. But I go to yoga when I’m half-asleep, and something will happen to put things into perspective, and those are the wisdoms I try to share.

Some Morning Yoga Wisdom highlights:

Morning yoga wisdom: Just for today I will try to live through this day only and not tackle my whole life problems at once.

Morning yoga wisdom: Our strength and our flexibility are different each day.

Morning yoga wisdom: Set your intention.

Morning yoga wisdom: Waste your thought on fear no more.

Morning yoga wisdom: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

Morning yoga wisdom: When you start to feel solid, lift your gaze to the sky.

 

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Perfectionist or Free Spirit?

The other night I was having drinks with my Zen Master (what? You don't know about my Zen Master? Catch up people. . . read here), and we were discussing the challenges of coordinating and funding this Crusade tour. As usual when Zen is around, I get very dramatic and lay out all of my hopes and dreams and fears and wait for the magic to happen. He told me he was surprised that I was such a perfectionist. He said that perfectionism is the antithesis of my free spirit, anything-goes, I'm crazy and I'm ok with it personality (I'm paraphrasing - Zen is way more eloquent). Here is a direct quote, "You're one big ball of contradictions - that's what I like about you."

So am I full of contradictions? Let's put it in the context of the tour, since this is a blog and not a diary of my personal ruminations. The tour is a huge idea. Huge. And totally terrifying. I'm putting myself out there - literally - and taking on a gigantic load of work, pressure and responsibility. I suppose a perfectionist generally wouldn't try something with such a high risk of failure. Maybe a perfectionist would bite off smaller chunks that could be more reasonably controlled for success. But what fun would that be?

At the same time, I have incredibly high standards for myself and won't be happy to just physically make it around the country in my bus, riding back into Atlanta on fumes. I want to kill it. So maybe I'm a delusional perfectionist?

And then the next morning I stopped into my favorite coffee shop, where they post the day's horoscope on the counter. Gemini's, listen up:

"While there are times when being a perfectionist means the difference between getting what you want and not getting it, in most instances, perfectionism isn't realistic, necessary or useful."

Hmmmm. Zen would like that.

So the take home message? Relax. Breathe. Go for it. Embrace your successes and your failures. As Zen would say, "Never waste a good crisis."

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