This morning I am so incredibly grateful.
I sit here at my at my computer where I work from this beautiful home that I share with the love of my life. Outside my window are trees. Lots and lots of trees. The week that we moved here I spotted a coyote trotting down the road. I've seen deer and chipmunks and squirrels in our front and back yard. Hawks and Jays in the skies above us. Nature surrounds us completely.
I am truly blessed. Blessed to be in this beautiful space with this beautiful love that I share with her. She is one of the most loving, kind, fun and adventurous souls that I have known in this life and she loves me. She chooses me.
My heart is so full of love and so happy that it wants to leap out of my chest and smile and dance through the world.
My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. Every day.
I am the luckiest.
Thank you, Universe. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Ever since the end of my photography project I have been struggling. For the first couple of years I felt drained, tired, and emotionally worn out. As the years progressed it shifted into something else but I was never quite able to put my finger on it. It seems that not a lot of photographers, specially documentary type photographers, talk about the toll it takes on your heart and soul so I haven't ever been able to articulate it until today.
Lately it feels to me like everything I shoot is complete crap. That connection I was able to make with all of the people I photographed in the project was no longer accessible to me so photographing people really has been complete crap. Every time I pick up my camera over the past few years it's felt forced, fake, and I completely overthink all of it. Or I've completely forgotten all of it and I spend a huge amount of time beating myself up over it and feeling like a fake. The farthest thing from a photographer.
Being a photographer is part of who I am, though, so I felt like I lost that part of myself and lately it's really been fucking with me. Old thought patterns are trying to push their way into my brain so they can make me feel less than, not good enough, and a failure. I hadn't realized how much it was affecting me in other parts of my life, too, until I could put my finger on what was happening.
After battling with it again this morning, I finally reached out to another documentary photographer to see if I wasn't just making this shit up. Thankfully, I have a couple documentary photographers in my life so I messaged one of them and asked if she ever felt like everything she shot was complete shit. After a good "LOL" she helped me realize just how much we give when we shoot. We give our patience, our heart, our knowledge, our love and our hand. Not just a hand but a Mother's hand that says, "You are amazing. Let me show you and the world." We enmesh ourselves with their lives. We carry their stories on top of our own. Specially within a marginalized community.
Letting go becomes so much more important. I've been carrying around those stories ever since our lives enmeshed. It's time to let them go.
Our conversation ended with this, which I want to quote here so I can come back and remind myself, "You are a warrior. A storyteller. An artist. And you are unique. Your point of view of life through the lens is amazing. You can grow. But you cannot shrink. The artist heart grows and grows. So fighting it is impossible. You may just need a different road to walk down."
I'm sure I will battle with this more but for now, I feel a sense of peace that I haven't felt in a while. I got my D300 back from the shop today with a brand new shutter. Because of how I was feeling about things after talking with my friend, I took it out for a bit this afternoon. Unfortunately, I've misplaced the cord to get the photos off of it so I can't post any photos that I took with it.
I am grateful to my friend for taking the time to hear and see me. It felt good finally articulate what was happening. It felt good to shoot again with my D300. I am blessed.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
I was reminded last week that I haven't even been back in Portland for 6 months yet. Almost, but not quite yet. In those almost-not-quite 6 months I have done so many things and gone on so many adventures!
Since I landed in Portland on December 4th of last year I have:
-Spent many weekends at my girlfriend's family's house on the Nastucca River
-Attended several holiday parties
-Took a self defense class
-Saw the Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo with my family
-Watched several movies in the theater including Allegiance, Star Wars Rogue One, Moana, Lion, Arrival, Lala Land, Fences, Hell or High Water, and Kedi
-Went sledding on Mt. Hood and in Portland where we had more than a foot of snow!
-Rang in the New Year on the coast
-Attended the Women's March in Washington DC
-Walked through the Holocaust Museum and the African-American History Museum while in Washington DC
-Went on a wine tasting weekend in Lyle, Washington
-Attended concerts at the Schnitzer including Kodo and Storm Large (who we also saw in Cannon Beach!)
-Attended a production of Swan Lake at the Keller
-Spent Valentine's Day spoiling my girl with a night at the historic Heathman hotel and that Storm Large concert
-Spent the weekend in Astoria to attend the Dark Arts (dark beer) festival - a Christmas gift from my girl
-Traveled to Olympia, Washington to visit friends and family
-Lots of dinners and coffees with friends and family
-So far have done 18 hikes out of a 52 hike challenge for the year
-Spent a long weekend in the Olympic National Forest in a tiny home
-Did a 13.9 mile solo hike in the Columbia Gorge
-Took a few guitar lessons
-Flew to Pasco, Washington and road tripped to Bend, Oregon
-Spent a weekend in Bend, Oregon
All done in the last almost-not-quite 6 months! Most with my girl, of course. I adore her sense of adventure and desire to suck the marrow out if this life. We have the best times together. Her presence in my life and her love are such beautiful gifts. I am so blessed.
Another adventure coming up this weekend and I am so excited! I love making every weekend a mini vacation! Specially with her.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
I'm having trouble with the world today. After last night's attack in Manchester, today felt for me like the day after 9/11. It was hard to focus on work, hard to not read the news (really, hard to stay away from it), and everything just felt like it wasn't important. No email or phone call felt very important.
When tragedy like this happens it makes me really focused on what is important in this life. The people around me. Not the things that dozens of emails want me to buy or the work that I do. It felt like today should have been a day of mourning, a day for everyone to stop and just focus on what really matters in this life.
My brain, my heart and my soul just does not understand why that doesn't happen. Why do we have to go on like nothing happened? Sure we need to show strength, but where is the room to grieve? There has to be room to grieve.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
I didn’t think it would happen again for me but it did. She was visiting me in Massachusetts when I realized that my crush had turned to something much deeper.
We’ve been friends for close to 9 years now. When we met that night in September 2008 next to the fire pit at a friend’s house I was drawn to her beauty and warm energy. She sat next to my Chocolate Lab and pet her while we talked.
Over the years our friendship developed. I was always excited to see her when we found each other at mutual friend’s parties or get togethers. Eventually we began meeting for dinners or happy hour. Our conversations were always open and honest, interesting and engaging. I looked forward to them very much.
Our friendship felt different to me. Deeper than any of the others in my life. We were always so open with each other. Trusting. I’ve always felt this intense protectiveness over her that I’ve never really been able to explain. It’s just always been there. She’s become my closest friend.
I had kept my crush a secret. Our timing was never quite right. When I felt that crush turn into something deeper I continued to keep it to myself. Again, timing. I was just happy to have her in my life. Keeping her in it was most important to me. I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. I knew that what I felt for her was complete and unconditional and that I would support her in finding her happiness. That’s all that mattered to me. Her happiness.
It’s still and always will be all that matters to me.
I didn’t think love would happen for me again because after working on myself for the past few years, intentionally staying single and getting to know me I discovered that the way of being in relationship for me is different from the conventional way that society has created. Monogamy felt unrealistic. The expectations that come with a conventional romantic relationship felt heavy and unnecessary. I wasn’t able to see myself in that space any longer and I knew that it would take an extraordinary person, one who would take the time to develop a friendship and trust over years, to be in relationship with me. I had set the bar high because I knew I was okay with just being with myself. I discovered the things that made me happy and I was content with just me.
When I felt my love deepen for her, when I realized the unconditional-ness of it, I also realized that the extraordinary person I was open to was already in my life. Someone that I trust completely. Someone who also sees outside of the conventional relationship box. Someone who sees and loves all of me and who I see and love all of. Completely and unconditionally in the true definition of those words.
Lucky for me, those deep feelings of love are not unrequited. We are in love and my heart couldn’t be happier. I’m not sure how much I believe in soul mates but I know that she is one. I also know that I will always only want for her happiness whether that includes me or not. She is not meant to be caged and our love is not meant for a conventional box. It’s free and unbinding. Our only promise is to always be open and honest with each other.
I am blessed with a love that is beyond anything I’ve ever felt or experienced. A love that stands solidly on trust and friendship. To say that I am grateful just doesn’t feel enough.
In the short time that I’ve been home here in Portland we’ve had so many adventures and shared so many beautiful moments. I look forward to more of them.
Life is beautiful.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Ever since this past Presidential election I find I am having a really hard time trusting people. People in general, people in my family and people in my community. Trust is a fundamental building block that relationships stand on, so it's been an incredible challenge, to say the least.
I guess it's not all about the Presidential election when I really think about it. It has a lot to do with some of my past experiences, as well. I have no doubt. The photo project would be the beginning of the crumbling of my trust within my community. I couldn't pin that to any one thing that happened, either. It was just a general feeling that people weren't being honest with me or were taking their own things out on me, which happens. I get it. I was able to refine my diplomatic skills during that time and that's definitely something to be grateful for.
Then people treated some of the people I care about the most in horrible ways. They're still out there in the community spreading lies and darkness and getting away with it. They face no consequences to what they've done to my people either, other than karma, which I know will be a constant battle for them given the things they've done. I wish I could warn everyone about them. Narcissists, master manipulators and pathological liars are bad for your lives. Don't let them in. Not even a little.
Then the election happened and I find myself incredibly untrusting of my fellow human beings, minus the very few who are close to me. I'm suspicious of their true intentions, which no one ever seems to talk about. Maybe they themselves don't quite know them but it all leaves me questioning friendships, which is very uncomfortable and makes for a very small circle of friends. It also makes me question the intention of potential new friends in my life, which makes it difficult to expand that small circle.
Is this an age thing? The older I get the less energy I choose to give to friendships that no longer give much or any energy to me. Also, the less time I have for people who aren't honest, open and authentic. I'm tired of the games and refuse to play them any longer. Maybe that makes my circle small but I'm ok with that. I'm very protective of that small circle.
I guess my point to writing this is that this feeling of not being able to trust is affecting my blogging and being vulnerable with the world. Hence the quietness in this space. I'm not sure what to do about any of it other than just sit with it for now.
I hope you're finding peace within your life.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Writing about it, finding the words to give it justice, has been challenging. To say the least. I left with the intention of writing about it while experiencing it but, honestly, it was so overwhelming that it made it impossible for me to write about. Now as I sit here and try to put words together to explain my experience, I find that I'm still failing.
Perhaps it's partly because of the constant barrage of daily bad news. I'm finding that the overwhelm is not going away. It's just gone from one extreme to the other. I've spent today limiting my social media contact and trying to listen to music but I'm finding that I mostly just want to sit in silence. The overwhelm is already so distracting that it's difficult to find my baring.
Everything that I care about is being signed away, shut down and de-funded. Not only are they things I care about, they are things that are important to the lives of so many people in this country. Shutting down the EPA will affect every single living being on this planet. That may sound overstated to some, but it absolutely is true. What we do matters.
Never in my lifetime have I seen such division and hatred in this country. The day before the inauguration we stopped at a Peet's Coffee in downtown Washington D.C. where the barista told us that just the day before he saw members of the KKK walking down the street in their robes and hoods. How completely terrifying.
Reading the news and talking to other people about their experiences has had me living in fear. I've had people online tell me that I'm giving into the "fear mongering" which confuses the fuck out of me because aren't they reading the same news? It really is true that if it doesn't affect some people personally, they just don't care about it and they think others to be ridiculous for caring about it. I just don't understand it.
While away in DC I had a brief conversation with another woman who cuts her hair very short. I won't identify her as butch because I don't know that she identifies that way. She's been considering whether or not to continue to get her hair cut short (buzz) because she fears for the possible consequences. I told her that I was having that very same struggle. But, the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I'll be damned if I will let someone run me back into the closet. I'll be damned if I will allow someone to make me live in fear.
I am a warrior. I've always been a warrior and I will always be a warrior. A peaceful warrior but one nonetheless. I will always be an example for others in my community. I lead by example. I will not live my life according to anyone else. I will always be authentically me. Short hair, boxers, men's clothes and all. I am butch. I am a masculine of center woman.
Hear me fucking roar.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
So much change and transition has been happening for me over these past couple months. I keep meaning to sit down and write about them but either the words won't come or I just haven't been prioritizing writing. My paper journal has been neglected, as well. Sometimes the overwhelm of life silences the words and I just need to sit with and through it all.
This weekend I hope to write about this incredible experience I am about to embark on, though. This morning I leave for my first trip to Washington D.C. where I will march in the Women's March on Washington. It isn't my first march but it's the first time experiencing one of this size in a city where I've never been. I am a bit nervous, yes, but mostly I am incredibly excited for this experience.
Last night I explained to my Goddaughter, who is 8 years young, where I'm going and why. I was so proud of her. She gets it. I am not only marching for myself and all of the women I know, I am also marching for her. May this world be kinder and have more respect for her as she travels through it.
If you're heading to the March or plan to participate in any of the others around the country, please stay safe but let your voices be heard. Stand tall and stand proud.
It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.