Random finds like these. So grateful today! Hitting the road to photograph a private wedding celebration in Milwaukee. A little nervous about driving through Chicago, but will have a lovely travel companion / assistant with me; she and I both adore experimental photography so I imagine the weekend will be filled with exploration. Will be back to writing full posts again soon!
Just happened to watch this video lastnight, and again today, and decided it was worth sharing on the blog. I really like Ann’s approach to this message! I’m now 50%-75% raw vegan following Ayurvedic traditions. This week, I gave up shampoos, soaps, and conditioners too, and now using water only for hair washing… I think the worst is over (day 5 my hair looked literally WET). Just think about the word ‘shampoo’ itself! The definition of sham: “a thing that is not what it is purported to be” — much like the food industry. Today I squeezed fresh lime juice and massaged into my scalp in the shower. Verdict: hair is looking semi-shiny… just in time for going back to work tomorrow after a 10 day vacation. Proceeding forward with naturalizing and simplifying life as the spiritual cleanse continues… have a beautiful week everyone!
<3 <3 <3
Since I believe in Karma, I realized this morning (after directly witnessing it) that seeing people ask for money on social networks — to buy ‘stuff’ — is a major disappointment. It stirred a contemplation in me that was deep enough to make one more post before continuing my blogging hiatus.
In 2012 I had more than $9K of gear stolen from me, and I knew this meant something significant. At first I was shocked and numb, but as the dust settled I knew it was time to take a closer look at what had happened. I could either spend the time sulking and pining away at lost items (yuck), or I could take a long hard look at the circumstances surrounding me.
At the time, I had just moved to the city and was head-first into a huge life transformation, so after about a week of contemplation, it dawned on me: I didn’t actually need any of the gear I had been placing so much value on. Sure, I’d worked hard at earning those items. But it wasn’t going to kill me. It was just part of what I had to learn from, and it was a lesson that shaped and molded me bigtime. First, it taught me to pay close attention to where I park the car. Secondly, it taught me not to get attached to material possessions. It was cold and hard and did feel like a loss at the time, but that has stuck with me and forced me to grow. I’m happy to have a disposable camera so long as I can still make pictures. The most important thing that getting robbed taught me was: acceptance. That’s just how things were going to be, and if I wanted to get the gear back, I could decide whether or not it was worth working to buy all over again. And what I found was it was the last thing I would ever want to spend another $9K on in this life. No thank you. Not even $1K.
Right now, a coworker is struggling to raise money for her handicapped grandson. They need a wheelchair-accessible van because he is getting too heavy for his momma to carry him. This is a cause worth asking money for, and a cause worth donating to.
Asking for donations to support a hobby, or personal travel plans — these are things that should be earned. I believe that everything happens because of resonance — energy and frequencies flowing and affecting everything based on the law of cause and effect. So if something is stolen (or someone harmed), it means there is a deeper lesson to be experienced for everyone involved — the thief (or the one doing harm), and the person being harmed.
It’s all resonance. And what what we’re working to create is harmony.
“I have such respect for expressions of life that are out there, [especially] if you have acceptance that “death” is not the end. I was afraid to die unfulfilled. To think that I would go like that was just too much. My soul is meant to save the world… or something. That hope has lived in me since childhood, and stays with me even today.”
I was scribbling notes during a phone conversation earlier, the above is quoted from one of my dearest friends. Someone for whom I have the utmost respect toward in this life. This person is also going through a nightmare, yet feels this beautiful hope so deeply.
We were speaking about subatomic matter and the range of the scale of all things that exist. Some matter is so small we cannot see it, and some matter has bonded together in forms so large we cannot conceive of it. Then, there is all of the space between… and the “time” that passes without end. The interconnectedness. It is so amazing that we are here. Alive. On a planet. Surrounded by infinite possibilities.
When we allow our “wants” to shrink, oh how the world changes. We need so very little. I believe there is truly a movement happening, and people are waking up to this. Paying attention. Preparedness. Letting go of attachments. Despite the convenience and wonder of the Information Age, the things in our personal lives are best shared with people who understand who we are. Now that I’m fully out of the social networking loop, I look back and think: wow, I can’t believe I ever spent so much time posting to those things :/ People ask me if I miss it, and the answer is a quick: heck no! Not for a single second.
And it is so important to love ourselves! Wow. When we give ourselves time and attention, to be kind and caring toward ourselves… this is when magic starts happening. This is when it comes naturally to desire fresh, living foods that support the body. This is when we start to truly feel the connection between the mind+body+spirit… to enjoy that connection, and allow it to guide us in our connections with others. And most importantly, when we start to create harmony in our lives, we reconnect with the Earth, Universe, and beyond… we catch a glimpse of the source of it all and feel it through and through, to the very core.
I had hoped to make a full post about CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] before my son and I leave for our camping trip next week. I will briefly say, that the farm I support is called Paige’s Produce, for anyone looking to join a CSA sharing arrangement. They have fruit, vegetables/herbs, and even flower shares! Planned on posting a more thoughtful post/essay on CSA last week, but some things have come up that deserve attention. And as I write, I’m feeling as if perhaps tonight actually marks an earlier-than-intended start of my break from blogging, as it is truly a time of “going with the flow.” Afterall, the planets are in rare form this month. Over the next month and a half I’ll be traveling a bit… and I know this will be an ideal time to begin this spiritual cleanse. Pen and paper. South to the mountains, Northwest for photography work in Chicago, and exploring Milwaukee by my lonesome before I return home. So I guess this is “see ya soon”.
Please enjoy the rest of your summer! And if you have children starting school soon… all the best to them and to you, it’s always such an adjustment for everyone. Exciting new time for kids this time every year. It’s important to cultivate patience and be a good listener for them during the transition to a new grade level, adjusting to a new classroom environment(s), new teachers. The workload becomes more challenging. They’ll be going through a lot. So lots of affection, open communication, and emotional support are helpful. Talking with other parents is also very helpful! Being sensitive toward any of their emotions is really important, even if you don’t understand them right away. I used to get pretty frustrated with “attitudes” or certain behaviors, or allow them to affect me,. What I’ve learned is: it usually passes quickly and it’s always better to say something insightful rather than to scold or punish. They’ll come around. And they’ll remember you as a good listener who used thoughtful, mature language when they become adults. Or at least… that’s the hope!
This year has called for quite a bit of extra time in the forest. Although I’ve taken hundreds of photos during these quiet times, I haven’t really shared any. These are just a few of my favorites from the last few months. Streams, deep-forests and lush rolling hills, caves, waterfalls, and cave pools. True love.
You Can Say No
As life’s journey continues, this process is gradual and ongoing. I’m beginning to feel the permanency of letting go. I can only hope this will be an example for my child as he grows into an adult, and I’m encouraged by friends who are also making these choices to live a simpler, more authentic life that is closer to what nature intended. A few years ago, I felt consumed by pressure to “succeed” — at least, by the mainstream concept of “success”. I caught myself mindlessly participating in consumer culture and spent several months mourning as I let go of patterns, behaviors, and relationships that simply could not continue if I was going to make the changes I knew were needed to reconnect with myself, reconstruct my system of beliefs, and get more in tune with nature’s design. Before I became a professional photographer, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. I took 2 years of college, then changed directions and graduated from cosmetology school. About a year later, I quit working at the salon I was in when the owner tried to convince me that it would be worth it to work an extra two days per week, away from my son, because “Michelle, you see how much money we make here.”
Money Above Humanity?
I saw someone holding a sign the other day that read “Humanity Before Money.” It really got me thinking that collectively, society is driven by making money and contributing to society’s current infrastructure… because we feel it is the only choice. I had fallen into that trap for a little while, even after quitting my job at the salon to pursue my passion for photography. I was listening to experts talking about how to maximize profits and studying marketing strategies out the wazoo. This is just a part of “getting your name out there.”
“NEVER WORK FOR FREE UNDER THE GUISE OF GOOD EXPOSURE.” — those icky words that I had seen on a meme a few years back still echo in my brain. I can even remember raising my prices and feeling good about the decision! Not what I stand for now, and not what I stood for before then. It’s easy to get caught up in what society says we should do, but there are other options. Of course as a single mother, I had to provide for us, but I turned to the current economic paradigm to provide for us rather than exploring other options. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that my passion for photography far exceeded any need to gain exposure for it (pun intended). I guess you have to go through these things to discover who you want to be, how you want to live, and how you can truly serve others in this beautiful life.
Disconnecting to Reconnect
We have to lose the idea that what is happening around us is the only way to live.
- No cable (since 2008).
- No more smartphone. In the last 3 months, I’ve experienced at least 75% less texting and more phone calls / video calls. Writing has increased drastically, too.
- No more alcohol and no more daily coffee. I’ve done a few spiritual cleanses and went 110 days without alcohol during the longest commitment back in 2012. After celebrating my 34th birthday this year, I decided to abstain from alcohol permanently — especially after taking a class with coworkers that discussed the body’s pH. Beer is one of the most acidic substances you can put into the body and alcohol itself breaks down into carcinogens (toxins), namely acetaldehyde, which is all-around damaging to the body’s tissues. Acetaldehyde even affects behavioral / cognitive function. Coffee is almost as acidic as beer! Here’s a chart I have in my office at work that is a great reference when discussing the relationship between pH and wellness with clients who are restructuring their diet. Side note: the body’s ideal pH is slightly alkaline – 7.30 to 7.45.
- No meat (recommitment). There are a number of reasons to stop eating meat, but the most important reason for me is that fresh, life-giving foods have all the nutrients our bodies need. Healthy fats, protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are best utilized by the body in the form of raw food. Following Ayurvedic principles, and now making a conscious effort to ingest mostly raw foods, I’m feeling so much more energy than ever before. I’d say I’m currently consuming about 50% raw now… not something I ever thought would even work for me. Now I look back at the history of my eating habits (which weren’t bad, just not consistently healthy)… and I seriously cannot imagine going back! My first attempt at committing to a vegan lifestyle went awry because I wasn’t well educated on balanced meals and vital nutrients. Soy and carbohydrate intake seems to go up if you aren’t aware of what the body needs. My present job has educated me on these principles and this is now part of what I teach others in our classroom. I’d gone back to eating meat minimally the past few years, but ethically I’m just not okay supporting the meat and dairy industry anymore.
- No GMO’s. In last month’s issue of Popular Science, they introduce the Arctic Apple. This thing has blue skin. No thanks. Here’s an article that discusses how GMO’s are harmful .
- Cutting out big brand purchases. Purchasing from thrift-stores + locally owned business saves communities and saves the planet
- Reducing. I gave up having a bedroom in exchange for a good location / simpler lifestyle that allows Kyler and I to walk and bike most places. This is a temporary solution until I’m in a position to move forward with future plans for intentional living and further simplifying. I’ve decided not to talk about “The Plan” until it’s completed and actually happening, instead of rambling on about what I plan to do (haha). I attended the ’2014 Parade of Homes‘ with my Aunt today, who invited me and paid for my ticket. Some homes had more than 6,000 square feet! While they were absolutely gorgeous, I can’t imagine ever needing or wanting such a lavish lifestyle. My aunt made such a good point, that “Most people struggle to pay for the image of this life, but can’t really afford it.” I heard another parent saying to her teenage child in one of the mansions: “This is unrealistic. Children with this lifestyle couldn’t help but assume this is what life is about.” Perhaps, but not one of America’s own super-wealthy citizens, Jamie Johnson, who questioned aristocratic motives and filmed The One Percent (really awesome documentary). Since the end of 2011, I’ve gotten rid of most of my possessions, including about 80%-90% of my wardrobe, donated my washer/dryer, gave away my refrigerator, and donated most of my furniture to other people who needed it. Don’t miss any of it.
Rearranging Your Life Takes Time
It’s emotional, takes a ton of planning ahead, and forces you to be completely honest with yourself and to consider what is most important to you. It forces you to consider where you want your money to go. It forces you to consider what you’re putting into your body, how you’re treating the Earth, and what role you want to play in the community. But it is worth every second!
I Love Mother Earth.
I have been forest-dwelling yet again this past Friday, Saturday, & today and will be sharing some nice photos/videos this week. Words cannot describe the feelings you feel while rested upon rocks under a recess cave during a rainstorm, and watching/listening to the rainfall. I have also been working with expired film a little bit and hope to have some new personal work up on the portfolio site! Additionally, you can look for a post about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) this week with some photos of the fruit/vegetable share delivered 1x per week (year-round) from a local farm I now support… a great way to support locally sourced food, promote sustainable agriculture, and drastically improve the quality of the food you’re offering to your body.
After those posts are made, I’ll be taking a few weeks off the blog for increased spiritual focus (much needed), a hiking/camping trip to the mountains with my 12 year old, and some writing… both academic and personal. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by leaving comments, it feels really good to be going in this direction with the blog content <3
I just got home from a press screening in Columbus, Ohio where we viewed and discussed the film Money and Life. Please watch this movie and encourage those you know to watch it, if you haven’t already! Here’s a brief description of the film as quoted on the site:
“Money & Life is a passionate and inspirational essay-style documentary that that asks a provocative question: can we see the economic crisis not as a disaster, but as a tremendous opportunity? This cinematic odyssey connects the dots on our current economic pains and offers a new story of money based on an emerging paradigm of planetary well-being that understands all of life as profoundly interconnected.”
The best part of the night was seeing the community come together for such a heartfelt, open discussion. It has never been more clear that this is the time to change our perspectives, stop buying from large corporations, stop consuming so much stuff, stop participating in the system as it stands… so we can rediscover our personal values, reconnect with nature, and reconnect with one another. Tonight addressed all of the questions I’ve been asking myself and then some… including how to be more active and involved. While I’m feeling flooded with a sense of optimism toward one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the world… right now.. I haven’t even begun to organize an essay or structured blog post. However, I would like to post a link to the MOVE TO AMEND petition and invite you to consider closely what it stands for.
People are out there working so hard, doing amazing things for one another. Many of these people and efforts are right in our own backyards in need of more participants. They’re out there, and you can be a part of it… We all can!
Three powerful words, indeed. Walking out of work today, I noticed I had received a text from a friend who is away on vacation with her family.
“I miss you!”
It read, as I opened up my high-tech Razr flip phone (haha), while simultaneously digging for keys and nearly dropping the purse I was carrying. It brought a smile to my face.
“I miss you.”
Such a nice thing to hear! The feeling of being missed, such a comfort.
This was a nice reminder to me… the caring gesture of communicating the feeling of missing to people — right when we feel it. Otherwise, they won’t know we were feeling it.
Suddenly I’m sitting here thinking of people and moments that I miss, old friends, loved ones, family.
A time like this is cause to pick up “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis and read a few pages. Such a great read.
A time like this is cause to let someone know they are missed.
A time like this is cause to reflect on how much my son has grown. One of many memories shown above in the photo.
While I’m currently working on another essay post, as well as an inspirational piece for the blog… this issue is more present-tense. I wanted to write briefly about pain and working with negative emotions.
While positive thinking is a good quality to have, it becomes counterproductive when we fail to fully accept the pains we experience, restricting ourselves from working through associated emotions. Open expression of pain and emotions can foster healthy intimacy among relationships. Showing vulnerability can strengthen oneself and one’s relationships with others.
When we let emotions build and then cover them up with a positive attitude, it only clogs the soul. This past week, for the sake of protecting someone else’s emotions, I tried the “positive attitude” approach, but in doing so ignored the not-so-positive feelings altogehter; This only masked my truer, deeper feelings. I finally allowed the heavier emotions to flow, and shared them with someone who remarked: “It is an honor to be trusted with someone else’s tears. It makes my own pain seem more significant.”
Both meditation and yoga practices teach the importance of fluid breathing to center one’s awareness. A few minutes of slow, cleansing breaths and focused inner awareness each day increases one’s capacity for mindful, intentional living. Through mindful living one can open up to embrace each emotion as it happens. Emotions are gateways to ascension if we allow them to be.
I listened to a beautiful guided meditation by Anara Kashna earlier today… she uses the word “allowing” again and again throughout her message. Allowing is key in developing fluidity in our lives — acceptance of the yin and yang… raising vibration through the developing harmony between our darkness and our light.
Wishing you all a beautiful week.