Chicago Love.

 

Hopefully, everyone will get to feel like these two in this life:)

*swoon*

To Sum up the Year.

Blue Ridge Mountains at Devil’s Courthouse.

His second trip to the area! He’s impressed that scenes from Hunger Games were filmed right in this area. Here’s a detailed list of filming locations for anyone interested:)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392170/locations

My kid and I, doing what we do. He’s 13 in 2 weeks… unbelievable. To all the parents happening upon this post who have already watched your children leave home, I have a lot to learn from you. And to my peers with kids the same age… these times are precious! It is amazing to see the changes in interest, the intensity and range of emotion. And finally, to parents with younger children…your words and actions have such a huge influence over them right now, and affection is the most valuable asset because it does shift gears faster than you’d expect! At least, those are a couple of things I’ve learned along the way. Oh, how much I miss holding my son on my hip, or rocking him to sleep. Watching him grow is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. And congratulations to one of my closest friends who gave birth to her second baby boy this morning!

Never was one to put many photos of my child online, did for awhile at the start of my career in photography… but started limiting after an incident on Flickr back in 2009 involving inappropriate use of photographs of children. That, and it’s not worth it overall IMHO… puts their safety at risk depending on how they’re shared for sure. Privacy is perhaps something we all take for granted at times the way things are in social networking. Talking with one of my sisters the other day, she mentioned something I’d never considered: families that have those stick-figure stickers on the backs of their cars are letting people know how many kids they have. Now that could be taken to the level of paranoia, but it’s true that you can never be too careful. Thought maybe I’d post that here for discussion / comments. I have friends that will disagree with me on this one, had this conversation a few years ago with a friend in Australia whose work is beyond amazing… please have a look at littlelabyrinth.com  ;) <3

So, if you’re a parent 1) which milestone are you currently celebrating in your child/children’s lives? And 2) How do you feel about sharing photos of your children online?

dez - November 9, 2014 - 5:08 pm

There was an error notice when I tried to post
I’m not sure this will post!
just wanted to tell you in case something was wrong :/
Beautiful post by the way : )

Michelle (Aurora) - November 12, 2014 - 7:17 pm

Oh, thank you! This one seemed to go through just fine. Thanks for stopping by!

Life Offline. . .

Description: Anonymous, aware. We must build from the inside. We can only know the inside if we continue to listen, consistently. Only small fragments left now, of a previous online persona that now feels more like a dream passed. Much more comfortable these days, situated safely and quietly. Pursuing what passions live on the inside. “Out of the loop” but very much alive, functioning, and well. The joy of motherhood intensifying as my child matures. The joy of inner growth coming to fruition. The blessings that greet me with each new face met. The number of individuals on the planet who simply long for the same things as myself, and likely you as well. The peculiar way we are always right where we need to be. Eyes opening, heart opening, mind opening. The ability to give love freely. Beautiful things surrounding every moment that deserve to be acknowledged. Striving.

Today I met the most beautiful man at the library. He was perhaps in his 60′s, accompanied by a young chaperon, probably in her late 20′s. He was mentally underdeveloped/slow, if you base that on what society considers “normal”. And he received so much joy from reading a book about animals. The pair shared some details about their connection with me. We shared laughter. And we exchanged strong, positive energy. I wondered what it must be like to go through life needing a chaperon. But I also wondered what it would feel like to not know life as we now know it. He sat there enjoying the book and its photos while most others typed away on laptops, or texted on phones. This man was so open, joyful, gentle, and kind.

The human soul, alive, and offline, without a care in the world. Tonight I sit in deep contemplation and gratitude. If a tree fell in the forest, would it make a sound? Well, it would to those around. Just because it isn’t happening online doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Life is good, as I write while listening to a pregnant, glowing neighbor strumming and singing.

Random Find: Thank You

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!

Asking for $ On Social Networks to Buy ‘Stuff’

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.

<3

Joanna in Asheville - August 15, 2014 - 6:16 pm

Wow- this is right on! Great post! Last year my car was broken into while I was at work. Then a week later someone broke into our old apartment and stole my $1,200 laptop and our $300 television. I was so angry and felt completely violated. Next I moved into acceptance and realized that none of my “stuff” mattered. It’s just “stuff ” after all. It doesn’t really make me happy anyhow. I have so much to be grateful for and the people in my life are what makes me a very wealthy woman :)

Michelle (Aurora) - August 16, 2014 - 10:22 pm

Joanna it was amazing to meet you this week! And you are living proof that less is more. I can sense fully the richness of the life you live. Thank you for sharing this story… interesting we went through something similar, and now are moving forward on a similar life path too! Looking forward to seeing you again in the future =]

Less.

“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!:)

 

xo

Michelle (Aurora)

Late April – July

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.

Free.

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.

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!

dez - July 29, 2014 - 9:02 am

Wow! I had no idea you had changed so many things. How do you get along without a fridge? Also it sounds like you’re very direct in these life changes too and I know it’s taken some time,good for you <3 . I have a tendency to want to change everything at once but that often leads to burn out haha but yanno nature never hurries and yet everything is accomplished and maybe there's a lesson in that.Since you have gotten off of FB/IG I have noticed a change , a good one. Everything seems more meaningful and direct. I love the direction your blog is going and am happy to see your beautiful photog website as well. I started putting my work out there and started a non-profit type thingy for moms and the non-profit feels better,go figure. I guess when we find those things that make us feel alive we should hold onto them. Did you know Aurora Evermore (IG) is still alive? Maybe she'll return one day : )

Michelle (Aurora) - July 29, 2014 - 1:47 pm

That’s amazing, Dez! I’m happy for you and the changes you’re making, too :) I’d like to hear about it and what you’re working on sometime when you have a chance.

To clarify, I got rid of my fridge when I moved, but there’s one in the apartment I rent. There will come a time when a mini-fridge (or less) will do the job, though ;)

The house I live in now has a shared laundry room with an efficiency setup, so I actually gifted my w/d to a landlord who needed one.

It’s more the notion that I don’t “own” anything… right now working on reprogramming my ‘ole brain to let go of any sense of ownership, and being more conscious of the use of the words “my” and “mine”.

Little Update.

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.

Time Off

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

Money and Life Press Screening

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.”

Community Support

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!