We are finally taking a vacation. I think this is the first time Jay and I have gone on vacation when we are not visiting friends or family. It is just us with five days to do as we please.
Yesterday we hiked over 11 miles in the Pictured Rocks National Shoreline. We woke this morning to a steady grey rain and sore muscles. As a matter of fact, every muscle in my body hurts, I over did it on the trails yesterday. I am going to take it slow and easy today and give myself space to rest in the moment. Space to relish nothing. Space to read and write as long as I want. Space to drive through miles and miles of dense forest and no traffic.
I want to stay I am comfortable with leaning into the fact I don’t have anywhere to be, something to do or some place to go. Yet, I feel conflict and discomfort with the day spreading ahead of me. I am going to allow myself to feel the discomfort and then let myself unfold. I know it sometimes take time for me to fully unwind and relax. Time to feel comfortable with not doing.
Here are a few photographs from our trip so far. There is a magic and timelessness in the wilds of Michigan unlike any other place I have found.
Here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart
As we close out 2014 I thought I would share a few bits and pieces of what I have been up to the last few weeks. I considered sharing a wrap up of my year or my year in pictures, but then I thought, keep it simple. Honestly, the holidays have been enough, plus I have a writing assignment due on January 5th.
Ajahn Chah is one of my favorite Buddhist teachers. His teachings are clear, direct and simple. I love this quote because it sums up so much for me. It is only by sitting with and turning towards my pain and discomfort have I found freedom from it.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah
I participated in Catherine Just’s In Plain Sight again this past December. I focused on taking daily self portraits. Wow, what an experience, I cultivated a lot of self compassion doing this. If you haven’t taken one of her e-courses I recommend it. She has a way of creating a supportive positive community. Here is a collage of some of the self portraits from the month.
I had a rare opportunity to get on top of a 12 story building in Southwest Detroit. I took this facing East towards downtown. Detroit is huge, 142 square miles huge. While revitalization is happening in the downtown core, the neighborhoods are devastated. Detroit needs so much healing and I want to do my part.
Jay, my Mr. Awesome, got me a Fuji Instax 210 camera for Christmas. This delights me beyond measure and I can’t wait to really break this in. It has been so long since I used film, let alone instant film. I have a big learning curve in front of me.
Here is one of my first pictures with the Instax. Aside from needing a better scanner, I am in love with the colors and feel of the photographs.
And finally, this video delights me to no end. We have watched it numerous times and I still laugh.
Happy New Year and may your coming year be filled delight, freedom from suffering and moments of beauty.
It has a sound, a fullness.
It’s heavy with sigh of tree,
and space between breaths.
It’s ripe with pause between birdsong
and crash of surf.
It’s golden they say.
But no one tells us it’s addictive.”
― Angela Long
The signs that summer is dwindling are beginning to appear. The kids next door played football in the backyard last night. Darkness comes an hour or so earlier. The daisy heads are withering, the tall grasses are drying up and becoming brittle. I have an extra pink blanket on my bed as a chill is creeping in at night.
I see changes online too, more e-courses are being offered, people I haven’t heard from all summer are starting to show up in my social media feeds again. My mail box is filled with invitations for fundraisers and other events around town. We are moving towards back to school, back to work, back to busy. We are moving away from long languid days, extra time to linger and notice the morning sun dance on the wet dewy grass. I am a bit wistful, I love moving slower and I have yet to figure out how to maintain a summer pace when fall ramps up.
I want to savor these last moments of summer before the hustle and bustle of fall comes rushing at me. That is why I love Susannah Conway’s August Break, it is low commitment and yet keeps my creative eye moving. Plus this summer has been about writing and deep learning. I need a break. Focusing on what I see around me with my camera instead of my notebook let’s me rest.
May you find rest and wondrous August Break moments. ~Kira
Tonight the temperatures are plummeting do to -7 degrees—again. I am wrapped in my bathrobe and huddled under two quilts. It is hard to not feel gloomy and defeated when the ten-day forecast calls for yet another snow storm and no temperatures over twenty degrees. Taking part in Catherine Just’sIn Plain Sight Photography e-couse this past month has helped to keep me sane and to keep my heart open.
Even thought I spent most of the month stuck in the house with limited mobility due to my foot surgery in January the class forced to look at my environment in a new way for inspiration and material. I had a group of other talented photographers to share and learn from. It also helped to keep my creative juices flowing when all I wanted to do was hide under the covers. I was doing at least one small creative act a day.
These are some of my favorite photographs from the month. If you have never taken a class with Catherine I highly recommend it. Her classes are always a heart opening experience.
“In the ultimate stillness
Light penetrates the whole realm;
In the still illumination,
There pervades pure emptiness.
When I look back on the
Everything is just
Like a dream.”
― Han-shan Te-Ch’ing
One of the benefits my day job provides me is the opportunity to tour abandoned or decommissioned buildings for redevelopment. These photographs were taken in an old school built in 1932 just south of Detroit. The rare January light was truly magical.
The house is silent. The cats are fast asleep in warm hiding places for the midday nap. Even though the sun is showing hopeful brilliance today I know it is frigid cold. The furnace never stops blowing warm air into my small study as I sit in my pink bathrobe even though is now afternoon.
I am playing hooky from a family birthday party today. I am learning to say no. My weekdays are congested with so many responsibility, events and meetings I struggle to find time to write and work on my other creative projects. Then I get cranky and short. When I am cranky and short, I close my heart and become distant to those around me. So I declined the party and now I sit in joyful silence. I am choosing to cultivate an open heart.
Now I have a moment to breathe and get caught up on my “To Do” list, which I really think I need to rename my “Impossible Expectations” list. I think what I really need to do is take my ever growing “To Do” list and cut it in half everyday. I am still learning how to manage expectations of myself without holding myself hostage to them and still get things done. So hard for me to find the balance.
I spent the morning pouring over photographs I took the last few months to order prints for holiday gifts this year. As fall is fast coming to a close, I share with you photographs of what turned out to be our final walk before all the fall color blew away by cold arctic air.
The rest of my day is going to be filled with writing on my memoir project (can’t call it a book yet; more of a collection), working out and reading my some of my ever-growing pile of books.
Happy Saturday and may you find a moment to be alone if that is what you need today. ~Kira