Staying open to simple pleasures offers opportunity for rejuvenation.
transform worn-out narratives
to simple pleasures
In my last blog post, grief was asking me to go deeper into emotions I’d prefer to avoid. Nature helped me to stay present to myself during the Darkness. And a couple of weeks later, I was ready to rediscover my joy.
As last weekend approached, I found myself expressing uncomfortable emotions to people I was holding resentments toward; I shared embarrassing thoughts with people I’m working on trusting; I reached out for help and support; I allowed myself to receive kindness, care, and pleasure.
And then I slept harder and longer than I have in many months.
When I awoke, I made a rejuvenation plan. On Saturday morning, I woke up, packed a small bag, and drove to Winona, MN for a short solo-adventure.
Here are a few simple pleasures that filled my heart with love, laughter, and joy!
I spent Saturday and Sunday moving in and out of connection with others, but always staying connected to myself, the present moment, and the environments in which I explored. During this short weekend, I rediscovered my joy and returned rejuvenated.
What do you do to rejuvenate?
If you're looking for ideas, here are a few from my trip to Winona:
Art and nature can provide a nurturing space for processing grief.
migrates on evolving winds
of oak-filled sorrows
In the last eight months, I’ve been connected, in varying degrees of closeness, to five individuals who have died. Naturally, these deaths have brought about grief, which is a feeling I believe most of us would prefer avoiding and I am no exception.
In the past, I would avoid through a wide variety of unhealthy and reckless behaviors: substance, ending relationships, isolating, avoiding responsibilities. As I’ve become more dedicated to allowing feelings to flow through me rather than weigh me down, art and nature have provided a nurturing space for processing uncomfortable emotions.
And having a nurturing space has provided some guidance around how to best nurture that discomfort. Recently, I took my camera to Rice Lake State Park after noticing feelings of discomfort. During my hike, I felt it all: grief, anger, fear, worry, frustration, hopelessness, freedom, peace, and love.
Upon my return, I was confronted with familiar habit of mine - isolating and pushing people away - and I became aware of how I wanted to change my story of grief to allow for deeper connections. The following questions helped me begin to write a new narrative and navigate through uncharted territory.
Embracing art and nature during grief allowed me to stay connected, speak my truth, be both wildly immature and infinitely wise without self-sabotaging, chose healthier coping mechanisms, forgive, and maintain relationships through this most recent time of grief.
How has nature nurtured you through grief?
authenticity. beauty. courage. creativity. curiosity. exploration. inspiration. transformation.
These values have become the focus of my life over the 25 years I've been consistently practicing nature photography. They are my constant guides and I keep them in focus by regularly getting out into nature with my camera. I’ve found that by taking on the challenges of making meaningful images with a camera, I've also been presented with ample opportunities to become more aware of my surroundings. And taking advantage of those opportunities has slowly transformed the way I see the world.
Yes. It’s absolutely possible to make great images using your camera on automatic and pointing the lens at nature’s stunning beauty. To tell your story through images, though, takes self-awareness, thoughtfulness, an understanding of the way your camera sees, and an ability to navigate manual settings - even on a cell phone.
Here's a non-technical experiment to get you started:
Strong concentration of bright light casts long, dark, harsh shadows. Next time, try photographing from within the shadows - where all the fine details and subtle nuances come to life. Read life lessons from nature photography and two more experiments here.
I believe being thoughtful, understanding, and capable in making images inspires the same in living life. Personally, I’ve found that photography has helped me to become more aware of my values, go safely and confidently into the world as an introvert, and more easily find calm in times of stress and change.
Art serves as a connection to our shared humanity.
I had the privilege to learn with adults from around the world during my time teaching English as a Second Language. They spoke Kinyarwanda, French, Somali, Hmong, Karen, Karenni, and Nepali...and I spoke none of those languages, so we had to be creative and deeply present with one another in order to communicate. These generous humans brought new perspectives and experiences into my life and I did my best to honor their perspectives while teaching them how to speak a new language, handle money, manage cultural expectations, and, for most of them, how to read and write for the first time.
Regardless of all the practical things that needed to be taught, we teachers decided to take a break from the typical curriculum and teach a short unit on art. Of course, I knew it was going to be fun, but it was so much more. When a student didn’t know the word for stars as we gazed upon Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” she named them “moon babies,” the quietest students started asking questions, and most importantly, for just a brief moment, we got to see the world through each other’s eyes.
In fact, this was the first time I really got to experience how my students saw the world rather than showing them how to see the world through mine and I was forever changed.
Looking at the exact same painting, they were experiencing its symbols very differently. No one got angry, no one refused to work with another, no one stormed out of the room. They each shared their view points and we all had the opportunity to see the painting through different lenses. They disagreed and we moved forward with a little more information about our school community than we had before.
I got to experience the value of art I'd always held in my heart and put into words answers to the question, "Why Art?"
Over the years, I've realized we can’t ever truly experience what another is feeling or accurately see the world through another person’s lens, but we can get glimpses into others’ perspectives if we keep an open mind and heart. And we can believe people when they share that they’ve experienced the world differently than we have.
At a time when social justice issues are rising up again and as equality evolves into equity, art can help us to both shine a light on our differences and connect us to each other's humanity.
Visions for my 40s: to dream up, plan, and help facilitate creative expression in community spaces that emphasize authentic connections.
Last week, I attended three days in a row of professional development for my position as an Educational Coach. The first day was from 6-9pm and it was chock-full of discussion, activities, and sharing with partners. I was exhausted by the time I got home and had to get up at 5:30am to travel for the second day.
The second day was a full day of learning about educational equity, which is something I am passionate about, but, in the last few hours, we were asked to role-play difficult conversations with a partner and I wanted nothing more than to crawl under the table for a nap. Immediately after this workshop, I drove myself and my co-worker to the hotel we were staying in for the evening. I continued to engage in conversation right up to bedtime.
On the third day, I awoke with a mild headache and the need to coordinate schedules with my co-worker before I was fully functioning. She and I arrived at day three in plenty of time to find a small table for two people instead of a table for six. I thought I was protected from too much interaction, but, as the workshop kicked off, we were given instructions to number off, get into groups of strangers, and rotate through a line of fellow coaches, interviewing them about what we had learned the day before. As the others began counting, I began crying.
Professional development for educators means very extroverted workshops. They are fast-paced, action-oriented, and require a lot of talking to others. Over the years, I've been able to desensitize myself a bit, but on this particular morning, after having zero downtime and waking up with a headache, I was unable to hold in my sensitivities.
Before it became my turn to shout out a number, I snuck out of the room. I sat down at a table and let the tears come. Once my emotions got a chance to say what they needed to say, I went back into the room, told the organizers my situation, and we came up with options. I chose to be led to a quiet room where I could take a timeout and decide what to do next. I laid down on the couch and passed out hard for a solid 45 minutes. When I woke up, my headache was almost gone. I was able to return to the workshop for the rest of the day, but this experience got me thinking about how often I have to act extroverted in this career choice.
During this past decade of being an educator, I've had many experiences with other educators appearing incredulous when I've attempted to describe my sensitivities, my struggles with anxiety/overwhelm and the impact on my physical health, my need for quiet, and my challenges with attending professional development/social events. I even had an administrator "diagnose" me with antisocial personality disorder. But here's the deal, I'm not antisocial.
Thinking about how I most enjoy being around others, I keep coming back to an experience I had in Glasgow, Scotland, right after the lessons I learned in Edinburgh. During the train ride back from Edinburgh, I planned a trip to the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art. Upon entry, I was drawn into a grand room that had open floor space in the middle, which was scattered with paper flowers, and tables set up around the outside. On the tables were paper, scissors, glue, pencils, wooden sticks, putty, and guests from all over the world making their own paper flowers to add to the collection.
I chose to join a table with two Asian women who I quickly learned were from China and spoke a little English, but mostly spoke Mandarin. After a few basic pleasantries, the three of us settled into joyful creativity - passing supplies to one another, showing each other our flowers, giving each other encouragement, and taking photos - mostly in silence. It felt good to be at this table, in a situation which felt so familiar and comfortable after a decade of being a beginning-level English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. It felt uplifting to once again be creating in community and connecting with others through shared experience rather than forced conversation.
When we were finished with our flowers, we added them to the collective exhibit and went our separate ways. We spent no more than 30 minutes together and we exchanged no more than 30 words, but this memory has stood out in my mind as momentous and magical, as it embodies my love for Glasgow, the city whose motto is "People Make Glasgow," and reminds me that I love being around people, I just don't love being forced into interactions with people and I get overwhelmed by staying engaged for extended periods of time.
I do love writing in coffee shops, contributing to community art projects, listening to music at small venues, riding public transportation (though often with headphones), eating at restaurants, having one-on-one discussions, attending lectures, and visiting museums/galleries.
Now that I’m more aware of, confident in, and practiced at honoring my own needs, I’ve begun to envision new ways for using my skills as an educator, planner, curriculum designer, storyteller, and coach to bring forth the next phase of my career in a way that allows me to be me more of the time...and still be stretched by trying new things...so I can serve my community and still have time and energy for my own creative writing projects.
While my future vision is still a bit hazy, I am considering how to create opportunities for people to engage in creative expression in a community setting, how to create a learning environment that is rejuvenating for introverts, and how to create spaces where people feel connected to both themselves and others.
I trust that over the next decade, the right opportunities and partnerships will help bring more clarity to this vision and, eventually, allow me to dream up, plan, and help facilitate creative expression in community spaces that emphasize authentic connections.
In addition to the experience in Glasgow and my years as an adult ESL classroom teacher, here are a few more places and events that have served as inspiration:
Kinship of Rivers
St. Paul Art Crawl
Stills Center for Photography
Le Voyage à Nantes
Wreath Building w/ Ediflorial
Turn the ache of failure into growth, creativity, compassion.
In 2016, a failed attempt at living with another human meant moving away from the Twin Cities, where I had lived for nearly twenty years, and back to my hometown of Mantorville, MN after being away over half of my life. In the last two years, I have created a situation in which I have a safe, secure, affordable home and a job which is challenging, rewarding, and well paying. I'm secure and stable again, and also still very much homesick for my friends and the hum of the Cities. As with most things, "good" and "bad" coexist.
For "good" and "bad," I've been telling stories my whole life. My creative storytelling began in here in Mantorville and my poetry writing began here 30+ years later. Over the years, I've used journaling to navigate challenging periods of life. I've always kept those journal entries private and have multiple plans in place for their disposal upon my death! This winter, as the days got shorter, I started writing in a new way. I took all the "bad" emotions I had and started writing notes to communicate and heal past failures.
Writing journals, short stories, essays, grants, budgets, plans, and emails had always come quite naturally to me. Poetry, on the other hand, had been on my list of failures.
Even so, as 2018 and my 30s came to a close, at a point where I felt both inspired and isolated at the same time, those notes about failure turned into poems. I wrote poems not really by my own choosing, but by something outside of me, guiding me through one, two, three, and then twelve poems. And, after the third, I was guided to stop writing about failure and instead write about promise and possibility.
I never knew how I was going to share these poems, or if I even would.
When I did share with those close to me, it felt so natural and I saw that people were impacted by reading them - they started discussion, they created connections, they reduced isolation, they inspired creativity. So, now, after years of keeping my writing private, I'm ready to share publicly. I'm willing to risk another failure in order to tell my story, allow my longing for home to have a purpose, and, hopefully, inspire others to take risks, too.
I've always written when the ache has been great, but being dedicated to this writing project has encouraged me to write a new story about my failures. It also reminded me that failure is not permanent - sometimes things fail because it's just not the right time, sometimes things fail because it's not the right project, sometimes things fail because more perspective needs to be gained, and sometimes things fail because more skills need to be learned.
Failures are things/actions that haven't gone as planned - beings/people are not failures. In fact, if we can take the ache of failure and turn it into growth, creativity, compassion, our humanity actually expands. What failure are you willing to risk in order to live more authentically?
My most recent creative risk came through the poetic journey 12 Note Forgiveness - return to this site for a new note every Wednesday from April 3rd to June 19th, 2019.
A creative vision grounded in forgiveness, acceptance,
I'd been on a personal journey toward forgiveness for years, but the road became more intense this past fall (a.k.a. The Fall of the Supreme Court through the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh) as I started talking about my own stories of being mistreated, dominated, and exploited by boys and men. I admit, I had grown a bit cynical and distrustful of the entire male gender.
But, as a white woman working through my own internalized racism over the past few years, I’ve begun to see how systems of oppression also damage the oppressor. So, in the age of #MeToo, (thank you for your leadership, Tarana Burke!) I began to get curious about what it would take for me to fully embrace a shared humanity while also honoring my story, and I embarked on a journey toward forgiveness.
During this journey, I came across the music of David Harland, a fingerstyle guitarist located here in Minnesota. While listening to his music, my heart’s healing capacity expanded exponentially and I began writing creatively in a way I hadn’t in years. Ideas flowed and words poured out.
My vision became more intentional and actionable when I started a writing project I titled “12 Note Forgiveness.” This project was inspired by an OnBeing podcast called "#MeToo Through a Solutions Lens." Click here to listen. Upon hearing that episode, I planned to write a note of forgiveness for every abuse. I started writing on December 6th, 2018 and right around the Winter Solstice something started to unexpectedly shift. I found myself in a new place where I could fully accept, and even embrace, my past trauma and fears around masculinity.
As I wrote “Note Five: I Am,” I knew I was done with the past and that I was ready to explore a new future, whole and free from resentment. The second half of “12 Notes” began on January 10th, 2019 while celebrating my 40th Birthday in Savannah, GA with my best friend, Alison. I wrote the second act whole and free from resentment, but not without anxiety. It’s been a wild ride and lots of additional fears have came up along the way. Even so, I actually finished writing Note 12 on February 7th, 2019!
Through this writing project, I have taken full ownership of my story and I’ve learned to stand in confidence around my writing skills. I’ve forgiven those who have been careless with my heart, the culture that created and skillfully upholds systems of oppression, and I’ve forgiven myself, too. Through forgiveness, I've been able to balance both the feminine and masculine energies inside me and I’ve been able to stand against injustice in a more authentic, steady way.
“12 Note Forgiveness” was a truly a labor of love and hard work, not only emotionally and creatively, but also technically. In all my prior Creative Writing classes, I struggled the most with poetry and never imagined I would be writing poetry or calling myself a poet. In fact, I called every piece a “note” right until the very end. It wasn’t until I started another project that I started to use the words poem and poet!
I'm not sure I would have finished if it weren’t for the encouragement, validation, interest, and input of a few particularly brave souls who read my poems and provided feedback as I navigated this emotional endeavor. Thank you David Harland, Patti Phillips, Jodi Versaw, and Michele Perry.
These twelve poems, all grounded in a vision of forgiveness, acceptance, and transformation have carried me into deeper love, hope, and joy. It is my hope that anyone who reads them will feel more connected, more seen, more free to be themselves, more loved, and more loving.
Thanks for reading and joining me here for 12 Note Forgiveness!
No-see-ums (aka ceratopogonidae or biting midges) annoyed Alison and I out of our slumber around 4am on our final morning in the cabins at Cape Lookout National Seascape. Rather than agonize, I got my gear together, exited the cabin in the pre-dawn charcoal gray, and spent some time alone walking along the shore of the Atlantic. Just as the sun began to turn the sky pinks, blues, and purples, another lone figure suddenly appeared from behind the dunes up the coast. Unaware of my presence, she twirled and swayed and leapt to the rhythms of the ocean before dancing out of my line of sight, disappearing behind the horizon as quickly as she appeared. Her movement was uninhibited, joyful, playful, and inspiring.
When children, creative play comes naturally: we paint, draw, pretend, sing, dance, act, play. But, for many of us, we slowly grow away from that creativity. That separation begins when we start comparing ourselves to those around us. We find evidence that "proves" we aren't good enough or that creativity isn't our thing or that there's just not enough time to have a creative practice.
Maybe someone stifled your creativity because of their own insecurities. Maybe it got broken by the system of education that values logical and rational thinking. Maybe your creativity drifted off quietly as you focused on "adulting." Maybe your creativity has been hidden because you're afraid of being vulnerable.
In order to recover our creative health, we need to redefine what it means to be creative. In Brené Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection, she defines creativity as a means of expressing our originality and making connections. Her research on shame shows creativity is vital for living lovingly.
For me to reconnect to my own creative voice and depart from shame, I had to start sharing my ideas, passions, and creations even with anxiety present every step of the way. Here are three phrases the voices of anxiety used to convince me it wasn't safe to share and (after lots and lots of practice sharing anyway) what I learned to be the reality.
Colby, Kurt, and I hiked the trails of Minnehaha on a dreary, drizzly morning to get to this bridge, which was the perfect setting for listening to Join the Birds, their former band. Obviously, both playing music and photographing in drizzle presents some challenges, but, for all three of us, the weather was a welcomed part of the experience. The rhythmic music, the soft lighting, the vitality of the forest - art and nature created a magical symbiosis, a way of being that extended past all definitions. There was no separate entity that was "the artist," we were all creators of the moment.
Colby and Kurt recorded their first and only album in a similar fashion while at Boundary Waters Canoe Area in 2013. Click their photo above to listen to the recording.
Even if you don't consider yourself an artist, you can take ownership of the fact that you are creating something new every day. You are creating experiences every moment. You are a part of the Earth and the Sun and the Stars and you inherently embody the power to create.
I've had my share of breaking the law, but I went through all the proper channels to get the right approval to use the Minneapolis Institute of Art (The Mia) for a creative collaboration with my dancing-queen friend, Elizabeth. On the agreed upon date, we checked in at the front desk and, after a few calls, we were graciously permitted to enter with our gear. Within about 2 minutes, we were stopped by a security guard telling us we could not bring in our gear or do what we were planning to do. I explained the situation, he radioed the front desk, and we were (somewhat begrudgingly) allowed to continue. Every 5-10 minutes, we would go through the same procedure with another security guard. It didn't take us very long to wear out of the routine, but Elizabeth and I made a game of finding a quiet place and getting a few quick shots off before we were discovered again. Our last stop was outdoors, on the railing of the front steps. We knew we had only a few precious moments, so we planned and executed, while watching for the guards to arrive. We could see them coming through the glass doors, so we took off (laughing) before they had a chance to put us through the routine again. Were the guards annoying? Yes. But I'm sure they're not annoying sometimes, too. Were we behaving badly? A bit. But we're good sometimes, too.
Good and bad are subjective and can co-exist within one relationship, one experience, or even one moment. Of course the security guards were trying to do a good job for the benefit of the museum. They were also preventing new art from being made. Of course I realize what a privilege it was to be permitted to get the shots we did. I also know that the images would've been better if we weren't stopped so frequently. There are always multiple things happening simultaneously and each person brings their own perspective to each situation. It's the same with art. So who cares if you make bad art. Sometimes I think the art at The Mia is hideous. That doesn't stop the museum from existing, it doesn't stop them from bringing in new pieces, or protecting the displayed pieces from mischievous women like Elizabeth and me.
Make something and share it freely. It'll be both good and bad and the world will benefit from your courage, vulnerability, and creativity!
Lama Yeshi Choedup and I first met through the MN Literacy Council, where I was volunteering at the start of my career as an ESL teacher. There was a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery near the school where I volunteered and there were three monks who I got to know and learn from. One day, I saw there was an art project by Wang Ping called "Kinship of Rivers" being held at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis where a mandala would be created in honor of the Yangtze River. The monk who would be creating the Mandala happened to be my friend Yeshi. Yeshi completed a small, simple mandala at the event for the public to witness and stand in awe of as they watched him precisely place the tiny granules of sand to create a work of art. The feelings of connection created at this event were palpable. Guests enjoyed the art exhibit, made prayer flags, wrote poems, and enjoyed music to create an energetic connection between us, the Mississippi, and the Yangtze. As the mandala was complete, after hours of detailed work, Yeshi confidently swept all of the sand into a pile, effectively destroying the art he just created. Reminding us all that nothing is permanent, we ceremoniously walked the sand down to the Mississippi and watched Yeshi perform a Buddhist "prayer" before pouring the sand into the river. It didn't matter that Yeshi's mandala was a work of art, what mattered was the connection it created, the energy that was brought into being, and the ritual of the practice.
Click the photo of Lama Yeshi Choedup to learn more about Wang Ping's project "Kinship of Rivers" and the connections created by this art project.
Who cares if you make something that is not liked by others. Even if you make something you will destroy when completed or will never even show to another, making things shifts the energy and creates new connections.
No matter the reasons for our stifled creativity and no matter how we define creativity, here's the reality: we are creative beings. Every single one of us.
We are all here on this planet making a life, making meaning out of our experiences, and making connections. We can be more creative and more intentional about what we create by cultivating the art of making. We express ourselves, our individuality, and our purpose through creative expression.
As I've continued to develop my own creative practices, have I been able to completely let go of comparison and competition? Hell no! Am I nervous each time I share my artistic voice? Hell yes! But I know I don't want fear to stand in my way. I know I don't want to live life stuck in grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, or shame. Creative expression has served as a vehicle for staying present to and moving through all my emotions with less attachment. It has served as connections to people I would've never met. It has served as an intentional focus and spiritual ritual in an ever-changing world. It has served as a antidote to depression and anxiety.
Getting into nature with a camera can have some unexpected consequences. In addition to feeling refreshed, there are lessons to be learned from viewing the world through the lens of a camera - more than how to use a camera, and more than how to make a great composition. There are deep life lessons available when one becomes still and learns to see in a new way.
Here are three life lessons I've learned by experiencing nature through the lens...
Lesson 1 - Letting Go
In our daily lives, we are often expected to be active, strong, independent, and career-centered. In order to balance this active expression with intuitive expression, we also need to be responsive, still, interdependent, and nature-centered. When we neglect our connections with intuition, we get stuck in our heads and forget to check in with our hearts. Freeing our imagination helps us to reconnect with our heart-centered, intuitive selves.
Just as the trees freely release their leaves, so can we choose to freely release that which the mind stubbornly holds as truth...even when the heart knows differently. Reconnecting with our hearts seems especially vital during these times of unrest in the world. How can we stand together in peace when we hold tightly to our conditioned beliefs of separateness and superiority as Truth?
We can start to let go by getting more comfortable with our imaginations. What does your imagination do when your conditioned mind lets go of the need to be right? When we let go, we can then use our creativity to intuit new solutions to previously unsolvable problems. We can then use our imaginations to step into relaxation, improve our moods, and begin to see with a broader perspective.
Photography offers us a simple way to shift our attention to the shapes, colors, and beauty of everything that surrounds us. Look at the image below. What does your heart see when your mind lets go of trying to categorize, judge, and name?
Photo lesson: Let go of the need to keep sharp focus. Let the focus of the camera slide and watch new shapes and colors effortlessly form. Notice how this engages your imagination.
Lesson 2 - Impermanence
Nature holds the potential to remind us of the impermanence of everything. We have witnessed the cycles of nature over and over. We witness the seasons, the moon, the sun, and the tides. We can use this experience to reflect on the fact that we are also part of nature and part of this cycling through time.
When witnessing nature, we can see that there is exquisite beauty to be found in the cycles of life and death. We can find beauty in imperfections, in the cracks, in the decay. We can find beauty in the slow unfolding of nature. Seeing the beauty in these cycles reminds us that we are all in various forms of life and death and that we are all in the process of returning to the dust from which we came.
When we accept change, transitions, and aging within nature, it's easier to accept our own impermanence. Impermanence can then become a thing of beauty and an opportunity to live more authentically.
With photography, we use our cameras to freeze a moment in time, but nature doesn't stop cycling. Even the images you print will fade over the years...printing itself may even cease to exist. Look at the two images below. What has changed in the last six months? How have you changed in the last six months?
Photo lesson: Take a photo of something outdoors today and then again in six months. Notice what has changed and appreciate the differences without judgement.
Lesson 3 - Embracing Shadows
We are taught the idea of good and evil, black and white, just and unjust, beautiful and ugly. Not only are we taught that those two polarities exist, but also that they are in a constant battle with one another. We are asked to live and love from this dualist perspective, but when we clear out those conditioned thoughts, we can look at our experiences and we can begin to understand that life is just not that simple.
In addition to these opposites, we are asked to appear perfect - perfectly good, perfectly white, perfectly just, perfectly beautiful. However, that perfection is totally unattainable, so we spend a lot of time and energy attempting to cover up who we really are. And when we cover up who we really are, we also cover up our innate beauty, our divine joy, our unbridled passion.
Each and everyone of us has a shadow side. Most of us do our best to ignore it, but research done by Brené Brown suggests that our attempts at doing so add to the shame we feel. She shares, "Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy - the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."
Too often we attempt to reject our darkness and uphold our light, but there are important lessons to be learned from embracing both. When we step into the shadows, it becomes easier to see our full selves and show up for our lives - in all their glory and their messiness.
What happens when you intentionally step into the shadows? What if you were to accept your imperfections and maybe even see them as a gift?
Photo lesson: Strong concentration of bright light casts very dark, long, harsh shadows. Next time, try photographing from within the shadows - where all the fine details and subtle nuances become visible.