A Message From…
SOOOO many fantastic conversations are going on lately, all stemming from the whole “artistic voice” idea. I see it in communities where participants from my workshops and retreats gather… and in the greater artistic community, who is experiencing an even more persistent “Ahem!” from their creative souls than ever before. Continue reading “And Now For A Message From the Creative Force”
A day with photographer Omar Z Robles, dancer Alexandra Jacob and Dance itself is like manna from heaven. Continue reading “Omar, Alexandra & The Creative Dance”
I just got back from New York. What a trip. It was as much about the inner journey as it was the outer one.
Let me start by saying 2016 was a packed year. Full of surprises, breakthroughs, a few frustrations, lots of growth and new experiences. And now… lots to think about, feel into and make decisions about.
And I’ll admit it, I took a blog break. Just a little one. Even I need to step awayyyyy and take a breath now and again. Y’know, get a new perspective. So I did.
The Value of A Personal Trip (for art’s sake)
New York was a personal trip. I made it with my friend Valerie Jardin. We thought it would be fun to just take a trip and not have an agenda (which turned out to be challenging for both of us!)… and just see what came our way.
Now, I love NYC, but personally I find it challenging. It’s alot; alot of energy, alot of distractions, alot of input on so many levels. Artistically and photographically, I find it harder to find my balance, focus and voice there than almost anywhere in the world. And that’s always bugged me.
So this time, I decided to “embrace the horror” (as a friend of mine refers to his approach to almost any challenging situation).. and let myself be uncomfortable. Dwell in possibility, not expectation. Allow things to happen in a new way. Ask to be shown the way. NOT KNOW. It all sounds so noble on paper… but it’s incredibly uncomfortable when you’re in the middle of a process like that. Days when you delete everything on your camera. Times when you feel like you suck at this and should just take up knitting. Moments of doubt and agitation on a level that have you questioning everything including your sanity.
Not that I speak from personal experience or anything.
Embracing The Horror Leads to New Perspective
So. New York.
Like I say, it was challenging for me. But I chose to embrace the horror, take no shortcuts – and was rewarded with a renewed (refreshed and deepened) perspective… which honestly, I can’t entirely put into words yet. It’s still unpacking into my being. I do see it in my photographs though. From subject matter to post-processing, I wiped the slate clean and did my best to follow the quieter voice on the inside. The one that never fails me. Tried new lenses, new approaches.
As an artist it’s how we expand and deepen our art.
As a human, it’s how we create a life we truly love.
It’s also how we survive in times that push us to our limits. We have to walk past the outer clamor and chaos, past the inner mind chatter and continue on till we find our stillpoint. Easier said that done. And even when you think you know how to do that… you have to then be willing to take it further than you ever dreamed possible.
So… this was my journey. Make of it what you will.
Comments, questions – as always, welcomed.
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I’ll say it right here and now: “Good riddance, summer! Hello, sweet fall… ”
Sometimes, It’s Just Tough
I’ll admit it, summer sucked. I’m frankly stoked to be moving on from those hellish weeks. Over these past summer months, I needed to focus on backend admin/business systems stuff that had to be done, but am SO not gifted at doing myself, nor do I enjoy it. UGH! There were big learning curves and they were slooowww. But I plugged away at it for weeks – and eventually got it done. Not much photography got done, not much else besides slogging away behind a computer. REALLY not my happy place.
Where it went sideways was in my head for some reason; I had this weird stumble in terms of confidence and feeling good about stuff. Like, everything. It went to a dark place. Somewhere along the way, I got all off and judgy about myself, to the point of considering quitting and doing something else entirely. Luckily that last one didn’t last TOO long, only for the length of… summer! Blech! 😝
Mind you, I have really great self-care tools, from years and years of personal development work. I used ALL of them. Then had to get creative and develop a few more. Those voices in your head… man, you gotta stay on your toes to not start listening to them! I have a friend who says “My mind is out to kill me”. Mostly I think she overstates. But a few times over the past couple of months I actually thought she had a point!
Life itself really hadn’t changed, but suddenly I felt intense pressure about everything – and like a failure in certain areas on top of it. Like I’d made too many mistakes to recover from – and like my life just was never going to be as wonderful as I dreamed. And on and on from there. #Misery.
The ICK Overlay
At the same time, in the very same breath, I counted every one my blessings, looked around and saw the amazing things I’ve accomplished. What an amazing home I have, fabulous husband, friends. Yet, I couldn’t tell ANY of them how tortured I felt – and how I had feelings like nothing I do matters and how I felt like my dreams were slipping away.
It was like having this nasty overlay of ICK pressing down on top of what I really know is true and real in my life (the good stuff)… and having two clashing soundtracks playing LOUDLY at the same time. Definitely one helluva rackety dirge of misery!
My Bettylou-ism Of the Day
It was weird, I’ll tell you that. But something my mother taught me stuck with me (I call these “Bettylou-isms”). Even on the worst days, this one was my shoehorn into eventually allowing a shift: “If it makes you feel bad, it’s a lie.” I kept thinking; “OK, so here I am… a talented, blessed person who has friggin’ LIES spewing in her head 24/7, keeping her awake at night, gnawing at her soul by day. Awesome!”
But knowing they were lies helped. I mean, I’ve had times like this in my youth, but not in a loooooonnnnng time. Back then I didn’t know those nasty critical voices weren’t really mine. This time I did, even if they had me by the short hairs for awhile.
So I did the one thing I know to do: focus on the light of all-that-is and hang in there. Just… Hang. In. There. EVERYTHING gets better, everything changes… and I’m not in control of how and when. I just know I have to choose the highest Light and focus on that.
One thing I finally had to step back from: social media. It is so NOT a confidence builder! I even stopped writing here on my blog for a bit – and spent as little time on my computer as possible. Every time I sat down in front of either or both, the voices got louder. My skin felt hot and prickly. It made me want to walk away and never look back.
On the bright and somewhat amusing side: all this crapiola was certainly not without humor ( if a little dark) and the appropriate theatrical expression. You’ll appreciate that I have THE movie moment (it played in my head ALOT) for this entire episode. You know how I movie moments.
It’s from “Inside Daisy Clover”, starring Natalie Wood – complete with French subtitles:
Yep, some nutbar moments there. I love how it all happens in a recording studio, which is kinda perfect in my world! Anyway, there it is: my summer in a nutshell.
Now: I’ve rolled over the hump and am motoring down the other side. WHEW! I’m sooo freaking glad! Right now, I’m not back on social as much as I was and I’ve had to simplify things in my life. I’m getting back to my roots of photography… both on the ground and in the air. I’m starting to feel energy and excitement over what I do again… and about sharing it with all with you. I care about my purpose in life again… and love the way that feels in my veins.
So, bring it, fall… and HELLO to all the awesome stuff that has just happened and that’s coming up. KelbyOne, DJI, my Artist’s Voice Retreat in France, my stepson’s wedding at the end of October… me ‘n Valerie Jardin‘s photography project in Mexico in December, guest appearing on her new podcast: “Hit the Streets”. All upcoming, all will be shared… and all happening because I managed to remember a few simple things:
- If it makes you feel bad, it’s a lie.
- Focusing on Light is key.
- This too will pass. (another Bettyou-ism)
My humble thanks to God and the angels… and to those who love for as I am. Not perfect, but amusing to hang around. 😉
PS… Here a couple new recent pieces (one impressionistic, one more based in reality) I made after NOT creating anything new for WEEKS. It felt really good. Welcome back, creativity!
Both photographed with my favorite camera: the Fujifilm X-T2. Love that little beast like the old country! It gives me ideas and encourages me to try things… DEFINITELY my happy place!
Postcard #1 From Cannes
This Postcard From France arrives by way of Cannes, home of the Cannes Film Festival. Which – get this – started the day of my very first visit! There were multiple visits… this was only the first. I’ll share the others with you too, of course. They’ll make you laugh! Continue reading “Postcards From France: Cannes”
My Postcard #2 From Grasse: Skylark & Michael Kay
I feel like I found family in Grasse. Here’s how it all started… Continue reading “Postcards From France, Part 2: Welcome to Skylark”
Postcards From Strasbourg
Postcards From France kicked off in beautiful Strasbourg. But first… I had to get there from Frankfurt by myself with an injured back. My hubby Joe had been with me for a week, which was beyond awesome! I’d been missing him so much – and we had a blast with our self-proclaimed Castle Tour through Germany. He also helped me with luggage and did all the heavy lifting that I wasn’t able do as I hobbled around in mega pain. Continue reading “Postcards From France: Strasbourg”
Little things make me happy. Like finally making to Provence in France… a place I’ve dreamed of visiting for most of my life. (Lots of bucket list items getting checked off on this adventure!). Continue reading “Postcards From France: Finally, Provence!”
Today’s Postcard from Rome asks: what do you love?
If any of you have read my eBook, or read the my 10-part series about finding your voice here on the blog… you know I’m white-hot passionate about this question and topic. Continue reading “Postcards From Rome: What do you love?”
Postcards From Rome with Valerie Jardin began in earnest today!
Check out the view I see every day when I step outside the apartment. Sheesh! Continue reading “Postcards From Rome: Settling In”
When DO You Take a Photograph?
Anytime I visit New York City, I always make sure I get into Central Park for some nice airing out. This trip was no different.
What WAS different is that I recorded a couple of quick video segments, sharing some thoughts I had about “when to photograph”… and about keeping eyes ears and heart open for special moments that happen along your travels, wherever they may take you.
Here at the start of our “Postcards From an Artist” adventure in New York, I couldn’t help but muse on new beginnings.
I mean, I’ve never done anything quite like this before. I’m excited, kind of nervous, imagining all the cool stuff that might happen, places I’ll see… the food, sights, sounds and smells I’ll experience and hopefully… the lives that will be touched along way. Including my own. I’ve assigned myself with ALOT to do on this journey… will I be able to keep up it all? Will everyone enjoy this experience and have a good time? Will an ihater barf on our parade at a vulnerable moment? WHO KNOWS! Continue reading “New York And New Beginnings”
Today it begins! I’m in New York right now; later this week, Rome. After that, Germany, Switzerland and France. In all, close to 2 months, 4 countries and a world of experiences I can’t wait to embrace!
Here’s the thing. I didn’t want this to be one of those “Oh – Karen’s off doing her thing. How nice.” things. I wanted to be more inclusive than that. This experience is the result of a series of choices, decisions and life-changing events in my life that began years ago. I wanted this trip to account for all of them. But even more; count towards maybe giving ALL of us the juice we need to create a life more amazing than we ever dreamed possible. Maybe I’m a dreamer (Duh!)… but I know I’m not the only one. 😉
I just made this video this morning, introducing the whole idea. It’s super casual… I did it done on my iPhone, before heading out for the day.
We made it! This is Part 10 of: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.” Our final day! Wow, what a journey it’s been… and I feel like it’s only just begun. There’s SO much more to talk about! As a final wrap up to this round, I leave you with some thoughts on voice… story… and you.
IMAGES TELL THE STORY OF YOU
At the end of the day… or 10, 20, 30 or 70 years from now… your images will tell your story. What do you want them to say? Do you want to look at each one with fond remembrance and say “Ahhhh, I loved that day”, warmed by the care you took to include your favorite things into each one in your clearest voice? Or be sad and think” Dammit! Why didn’t I take a moment before I pressed the shutter?” (worse yet: “What was I THINKING??”).
As humans, we’re hardwired for stories. Thousands of years of cave paintings prove that, if nothing else does. Each of us is living our own story, guided by our preferences, our loves, our aversions, our faith, so many things. Every moment is its own story, woven into the giant story-tapestry of time that contain all the moments that came before – and all that come after.
Santa Cruz, CA
Continue reading “Finding Your Voice: Day 10. Story.”
I was always an entrepreneur
I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t an entrepreneur. Of course, back in the day we didn’t call it that. Yet, I built a profession of some sort within every discipline of my life; equestrian sports, acting, dance, figure skating, voice. By today’s reckoning I became an entrepreneur before I was 20. I’ve never stopped.
Lately – though I’m not sure exactly why now – I’ve been asked things like “What have you learned?”, “What do you wish you’d done differently?” and “If you could give advice to your younger self, what would you tell her, having all the knowledge and experience you do today?
So I got to thinking about it… and about her. I was surprised to discover how much more I love and treasure her special brand of badassery now than I did back when I WAS her. She was very angsty – and worried about EVERYTHING!
And yeah, I DO have some things I’d like to say to this younger, fiery, idealistic, funny, quirky, artistic and highly talented younger self ‘o mine. The advice is all about getting my mind right… because that was the one thing I wish I’d been better WAY at.
Still and all, we did manage to stay on the bike…
I ended last year and started this one thinking about how much photography is embedded in who I am. It doesn’t define me, but it’s definitely woven deeply in my soul. It’s how I see and relate to everything; from the most poignant & breathtaking moments, to awe-inspiring, mind-expanding flashes. Photos are like flash cards to the past that have recorded life-changing milli-seconds that I want to last forever. Continue reading “Photography Is In My Blood”
On Being “Right”
You’ll probably think this is odd. But here it is: I sometimes wonder if I’m doing things “right”. Do you ever do that? I do, and it just never feels good. Thing is, I know that when I worry about doing stuff right – it always means I’m comparing, judging, negating myself in some way and it makes me feel like that stuff you scrape off your shoe. I know I’m not alone on this. I also know it’s not where I choose to reside.
The solution? It’s simple, if you’re brave enough to leap.
Here’s an example. Photography & social media. I’m on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube… and those are just some of the ones I’m more active on. Makes me dizzy sometimes.
As a result I see ALOT of photographers’ and artists’ work. Some of them are amaaazing. If the stars align a certain way, it’ll mess with my head. The litany in there sounds something like this: “Oh god. Am I even doing this RIGHT?? Look what [he/she] did. I should travel more. Maybe I should just focus on one thing, post more shots of a me or a human subject standing in the middle of my shot, looking up.” (Oh, please, don’t get me started on THAT!)
On Contrast (It’s Not Just For Photography)
Point being… that inner yapping makes me feel lousy. But you know what? That is actually AWESOME! Because if all of a sudden I start feeling lousy (this stuff usually happens all of a sudden, if you’re paying attention)… it’s such a dramatic contrast to how I feel most of the time, I know something’s up.
And at that moment, I actually get kind of excited, because now I get to course-correct myself into something even better. Some of my most awesome creations began as moments just like this.
On Breaking It Down
Here’s how I break it down.
The Worst: Is when I feel crappy. Frozen with doubt. When that nefarious naysayer voice in my head is blabbing, telling me lies, making me feel small and “less than.” What do I see through this lens? Nuthin’. Nada. Zip. My reality selection feels flat as a pancake on a dirty street in horse and buggy days. I resist everything.
The Best: Is when I’m happy. Joyful. Light. Looking forward to all the wonderful things I get to create in this lifetime. From that feeling, my ideas are better, my work is better… I SEE so much better through my lens! Better things effortlessly come my way, more delightful surprises… surprise me. Magic happens.
Who can change worst to best: Moi. Me. Myself.
How: By shifting the thoughts I’m thinking and the feelings I’m feeling. People think their thoughts and feelings “just happen” – or worse yet, think they depend upon ANYTHING outside of themselves. But pick out some better thoughts and feelings to focus upon and Voila! Re-landscape your whole life. I’ve observed and experienced this enough now for it to be one of those “What I know for sure” things. It sure is important to know for your creative process… and in life.
The Bonus: Oh yeah. There are usually fun surprises…
What’s It Look Like?
The Worst: Me doing the old “am I doing it right?” trick to myself in New York. I was there to speak, to have some meetings, to shoot when and where I could in between. It wasn’t technically a photography trip. Rather than relaxing about that… I started feeling anxious about what I was and was not shooting. (Oh NOW it’s a photography trip? WTF?) Comparing myself to others who have so brilliantly captured this city. Freezing up inside as I wondered if I was doing ANYTHING right. Nice, huh?
Who can change worst to best: Me. I palm-slap my forehead. “Stop it!” I holler in a firm-yet-loving manner. I consider this constricted, icky feeling in my gut. It’s definitely a brilliant example of how I DON’T want to feel. So… what WOULD I like to feel? (That’s the important next question. My little kid always gets excited about it, which is a good sign.)
I answer: Happy. Fun. Full of life. Loving and loved. And… free of judgment about what is or isn’t the right way to approach photography. Feeling so grateful to do what I do and blessed to get to see the things I do. Loving my life and the beauty I see all around me. In my flow. Just thinking about that stuff make me start feeling better. To take it all a step further…
I decide to go visit one of my besties and forget about photography for an afternoon. Shift gears. OF COURSE I always take a camera… and since I wasn’t sure if it would rain or not I grab my Fuji X-T1 and 16-55mm lens (they’re weather-sealed) and head downtown.
On Allowing Flow to Happen
Erica Hill and I go back 17+ years to the TechTV days. TechTV was a technology television network based in San Francisco. I was hired as the network talent coach, to teach the tech folk how to do TV… and the TV peeps how to talk tech convincingly. It was a BLAST! I met 3 of my best friends there… Erica being one of them. It’s been so thrilling to watch her success and happiness grow since then.
We’re both so stinkin’ busy it’s hard to find time… but that day we MADE some and met up at her office at 30 Rock (NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Center). It’s always fun stepping into her world, where we’re as likely to talk seriously about things as we are to take silly selfies with a sock puppet and a microphone:
The Best: In that moment, I felt full and grateful and full of appreciation for this dear friend who sings me a song on my birthday (and vice versa), who always makes time despite a busy family, an impossible work schedule, travel and commitments… who talks with me about things that matter and who is always there for me. And vice versa. I found myself not giving a rat’s ass about what was “right”… I was just having FUN, feeling all those things I wanted to feel.
The Bonus: Something magical happened. (It always does when you let go, choose better thoughts and feelings and let inspiration come to YOU.)
I had the chance to do this: shoot this 3-shot vertical pano overlooking the skating rink. I didn’t expect it, it just kind of happened.
It was organic; a real moment from my life and no one else’s. I didn’t have to think about it, it came to me as an inspired moment; one worth sharing. One that will always remind me that I have a choice about how I think and feel – and that choosing BETTER ones will always change my life.
I think of this photo as a kind of life-as-art love child.
Know what else? It felt RIGHT… as a fershure, not a question.
Why Focus on All This?
Why deal with all this “inner voice” stuff?
Because as an artist, an expresser of things, you’re all you got. You ARE the instrument, the interpreter of what you experience – whether it be photography, art, life. Your camera, paintbrush, experiences are all just waiting for your inspiration and enlightened direction.
If you’re all plugged up with fear, doubt and worry (as my dad used to say)… you’re out of your flow. You can’t access your muse, your higher guidance, your inspiration… your real, true VOICE.
And that sucks.
The beautiful thing: all it takes to shift out of that mess is to think a better thought, choose better feeling… then another, then another… rinse, repeat.
It’s shockingly, almost annoyingly simple. 😉
OK, so it was a Monday, but nevermind that. Do you recognize this man?
Neither did I at the time. But now; to me, he is utterly unforgettable!
I spent one… make that two… of the most memorable mornings in Central Park with Paul Loeb and his marvelous wit, humor and awesomeness. And it was all quite by accident! (if you believe such things. Heh.)
So, this. Voices In The Mist. I recently made it image my new Facebook cover image. It got alot… and I mean, ALOT more likes, comments and shares than normal.
Think it struck a cord? Or was it just algorithms?
Personally, I’m voting “cord”, for whatever reason it was struck.
I can tell you that to me, this is an illustration in a story about listening, finding your voice, speaking with it with all your heart & soul in your art… and in every thing you do.
Photo Plus Expo 2015 in New York City streaked by like a Jedi star cruiser! By that, I mean FAST. Really fast. Is everything gonna be like that now? Because if so, I need to get me one ‘o them speed suits like downhill skiers wear so I can slice the air more effectively. Sheesh!
I went this year as a Fuji X-Photographer… how rad is THAT? As such, I spoke on three consecutive days. On the topics of my choice… which is where it got really, really fun. Remember that post where I talked about life kicking into a new gear? . This is the beginning. And I was in some mighty fine company!
The Yakking Points
Of course, I provided the titles and descriptions for each talk. They were:
“The French Mirrorless Diet”:
How I shed pounds, freed my muse and discovered Raw truth in France with my Parisienne paintbrush, Lady Fuji.
“Find Your Voice, Free Your Soul” and
“Live Your Life As Your Art”: Your Soul’s Genius Unleashed
Yes, Fuji approved these beforehand! Besides their incredible cameras, you can perhaps begin to see why I love this company. It includes, but goes so much deeper than, gear.
The X-Factor is You
To me, the overall connective tissue amongst all of these talks is the real estate BEHIND the camera. (That would be you. And me.) It’s great to have “the best” gear… but what IS that, exactly? I looked around at the thousands of people streaming through the Expo over those 3 days and thought to myself “everyone here is seeking that magic bullet. Wants it. Desires that something ‘more’.” But do they know what it is? How will they know when they’ve found it? And what will they do once they have it?
Truthfully, IMHO the best camera is the one you have in your hands. If all you have handy is your phone camera… then by god, THAT is absolutely the best one! It is also true that if you actually find a camera that inspires and entices you… the way you see, the possibilities you consider, the creative roads you travel… will all shift. These are not mutually exclusive notions.
The wild card is YOU. What do love, what do you stand for? That’s where it begins.
I used lots of my own images as illustrations… and this was our fun and intimate stage.
It Boils Down To This
As I walked around the expo, I listened to snippets of how-to talks and gear presentations. Very interesting, all. However, I chose to make a different set of points.
Because, you see, I believe with all my heart that feeling fulfilled, creative, joyful and ALIVE… all starts here:
(My pal Laurie Rubin caught me doing that thing I love so much. The photo I was shooting follows):
That Print Question…
OH BTW – for those wondering how Fuji images look printed? Yeah, they look pretty freaking fantastic! This was the one I was so honored to see hanging right next to one of Bill Fortney‘s:
These events are always so wonderful for connecting with friends old and new… including the lovely Cusi Taylor of the Photographer’s Adventure Club (PAC), who interviewed me as part of their comprehensive coverage at PPE:
The Bottom Line
Why do I think any and all of this matters? It’s simple:
And that, my friends, is what I truly believe all those people wandering the hallways of Photo Plus Expo are truly seeking. That moment of beauty and grace that awakens THEIR soul to act and shed its magnificent light.
After all… photography’s raw materials are LIGHT and TIME. It’s what we work with… it’s what our cameras help us spin into our most precious message.
I debated about posting this. Had a little tussle with myself over it, in fact.
See, it’s personal. Very “behind the kimono”, to quote my friend Trey Ratcliff.
But then I realized that if you’re here, chances are great that you’re a way-seeker too. Maybe you’re multi-talented or multi-passionate (if so, you’re a “polymath!”). You seek inspiration, the “a-ha” moment, the brighter light and meaning of life and ways of weaving it together into something awesome.
This is a rant of sorts…although rants are usually negative. This anything but! It’s something I shared with a Mastermind group I work with. Then decided that it effects everything that happens next in my world – and you’re a part of it. Think of this as the Preface to a book that is being written in the stars NOW!
Fair warning: this one’s for the brave. It’s long. It’s for those who muse, perhaps with a glass of wine or steaming mug of coffee in hand and some nice music. Continue reading “My Most Personal Blog Post. Eh-ver.”
Let’s stop the presses for sec. Down a chill pill. Take a breath.
With so much giddy goodness going on around here lately… giveaways, contests, partnerships, free stuff… it can start feeling like a carnival ride.
Don’t get me wrong. I loooves me a good carnival ride. I dragged my dad onto them every single birthday I could growing up! [he was a saint! And never once threw up afterwards, which made me admire him all the more.] But at some point I like to get off, stand still for a minute and have a corn dog.
OK, you don’t have to have a corn dog with me, but you get my drift. Continue reading “On Getting… and Giving Back. The Only Way to Roll.”
I almost didn’t write this post. I mean, I’m no fitness guru… nor am I one to shake my finger at you if you’re starting to waddle and shun trekking more than the length of your house on your own two feet. Heck in the past couple of years I sprouted some new curves I hadn’t seen in YEARS… if ever!
Then I thought “Screw it. This story is knocking on my head to get out”… so here you go, small tale… be free!
Once I Was Strong and Invincible. And Then…
For the first half of my life, I was strong. Riding and training horses, figure skating, dance, running, teaching aerobics, working out… it was just part of my life. I didn’t have to think twice about being fit… LIFE made me fit.