I’m spontaneous and intuitive or impulsive and foolish – depending on your vantage point. Maybe I’m all of these things – and I like it that way.
I’ve written before about my connection to the canyon – it’s a literal place for me and a metaphor. A place where I physically grew up and grew into who I am, as well as a symbol of freedom, fearlessness, homecoming and LOVE. It’s both – and I like it that way.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Ranch Land which was a special account for me of growing up on some land at the top of a mountain. That experience shaped me forever. The open air, warm earth, sage, animals, sparkly stars and onyx night sky – those things actually live and breathe inside of me, though I hadn’t visited that mountain in about 25 years.
One moment I was sitting in my house drinking iced tea and eating blackberries and the next moment I found myself in my car, on my way to the top of that mountain. Why yesterday, why that exact moment? I have no logical answer for this, except that I was ready.
I made the long and beautiful drive up Pacific Coast Highway and had an almost out of body experience as the car turned up the small road that I’d travelled so many times as a child. Surreal.
I wish that I could say that I felt instantly transported back. But I didn’t. Even for a raw mountain, it looks different – more houses, more ranches. But in spite of these external changes, the fact is that I’m not six years old in the back of my dad’s truck anymore. I’m 36, things are different now.
It was absolutely gorgeous – but not the same.
I drove to the very top of the massive mountain (it’s a long drive) to find the base of a hiking trail that was not there when I was a kid. Though I was in a lightweight sundress, flip flops and a thin cashmere sweater, I parked the car and started gliding up the trail. Like I said – either blissfully spontaneous or ridiculously foolish.
Everyone else was coming down the mountain geared up with hiking boots, metal hiking poles, backpacks, North Face fleece jackets with gizmos attached to them and water canteens. Oops, that’s right, I also had no water or food.
But there I was floating up that mountain. And it was beautiful – but not the same.
I kept getting higher and higher and for whatever reason, I wasn’t afraid at all, though I’d never been on this trail, was wearing beach attire, had no rations, no cell phone reception, no sunscreen – oh, and had told not even one soul where I was.
But I’m not thinking about these things. Well, I sort of am thinking about these things while marveling about how not nervous I am in spite of them.
Because I was so taken with the beauty.
More than air, water or even fire, I really am a land person, and this land is, simply, magical. After climbing for a mile or two, I found the perfect spot and just sat there for a very long time.
Then, in an instant, it was time to go – I was ready, and I started to make my descent. I will say that my bad ass attitude instantly changed as the sun was setting, I’m nearing the bottom of the trail expecting to see my car, only to realize I’m nowhere near where I started.
I’m totally lost, and I’m starting to freak out.
Did I say spontaneous…I meant foolish.
And for a few frightening minutes I had very dramatic visions of dying up there. A snake would get me. Or I’d slip and break my leg and no one would be around to find me. Or I’d starve. It would make for a good story: Woman visits canyon of her youth and takes her last breath there.
But that’s not what happened. I don’t get off that easy. Who will do the laundry, make dinner, and write these blog posts for my 20 loyal readers (thanks readers!).
I finally did get to the bottom of a trail – a completely different trail – and flagged down some guys just about to leave who drove my ass back up the canyon, back to my car. I was dripping with sweat, nerves racing, thinking how dumb I was.
Or was I?
Gratefully at home in my cozy bed last night I realized that you can’t go home again. The canyon was the same, but not the same at all. My dad wasn’t there, the barking dogs weren’t there, nor were the hundreds of other minute but precious details that made it exactly as it was, during that period of time.
And surprisingly, I’m grateful for this.
Because I realized that the canyon – the beauty, lessons and life it gave me – has never not been there. I’m not tracking back to something, as I thought I had been. It’s been here all along! It lives and breathes in me, as it has done since I was a little girl. I can go back there any moment I want just by sitting in my own heart, breathing it in.
And this is true of any experience or any person in your life, with whom you want to connect – they are right there. The love, the good memories, the reasons why you were at that place or came together with that person are always alive and informing who you are.
They say nothing is ever outside of you, it’s only ever inside of you. Well, I have an entire canyon alive and thriving inside this heart of mine. It’s been here all along…and it’s fucking beautiful.
What does beauty mean to you?
For me, at its essence, it means LOVE. It’s about a purity of intention, expression or delivery. A raw state. Uncontrived. Unfussy. Sometimes not even deliberate…yes, accidental or unintentional is often the best…like you’ve happened upon something.
I gravitate towards beauty every day of my life. It’s what fuels me at my core. I suppose that’s one of the main reasons why I feel I’m here – to create beauty, explore it and to mirror it in others. Does that sound lofty or idealistic? Not to me.
For me, even the messy and painful parts are beautiful, too, in their own way, because they are authentic. Authenticity is a huge party of beauty. Not Martha Stewart/1950’s housewife/Magazine Cover beauty. I’m drawn to things that are real and raw.
Scars, dishes piled in the sink, the rose past its prime. There is TRUTH in all of these things. They aren’t hiding….they just are.
I’d like to be more like that.
Of course, I enjoy more ‘traditional’ beauty as well, but I tend to experience it more in rustic, worn places rather than in the pristine. Pretty dishes, cut flowers, music, a bright pink sari blowing in the wind. You get the idea.
I’m not saying that every moment is beautiful (well it kind of is, because, after all, you’re ALIVE). But there is beauty to be experienced in the raw, truthful moments that maybe on the surface aren’t traditionally what you’d call filled with beauty. In pain there is growth, and growth is beautiful because it is an expression of Life. It’s where you witness your own evolution, even if in the moment it hurts.
We each offer our own version of it, even when we don’t realize we’re creating or offering it. We each matter in our own way, and even a ‘simple’ cup of tea handed to a friend in need contains more BEAUTY and love than we can even imagine. Don’t under estimate it, or dismiss it before it even has a chance to flow into the exact place it was destined, where it’s needed most, from your hand to another.
Here are a few pictures of how I see beauty, taken over the past week or so. May it inspire you to consider your own version of beauty in your own life.
I am continually reminded and shown that we all perceive things differently, and how important it is to know your own experience of something and really (really) listen when someone is showing you who they are, or what they want or how they perceive the very same experience. I am slow with my learning, but I do, eventually get there. Thank you.
We sometimes think that just because we’ve seen something beautiful or amazing that others will see it the exact same way we do, and will want to take the same walk with us, holding and expressing that beauty just as we do. I keep learning…
Keep walking on your path, keep being who you are!!
Keep seeing beauty as you do, in the most mundane or profound ways. It is a gift to experience Life in this way, and I believe every moment does hold the seed for a chance to commune with something so much greater than ourselves, if we are open, if we want it, and if we choose to experience it in this way….
(all photos taken by me)
If you’re really lucky, you find a place where you feel complete, whole and inspired. It could be a beach, a ski slope, or maybe even a baseball field. It doesn’t really matter what that place is, so long as you find it.
For me that place is Yosemite. I’ve been lucky enough to visit this majestic national park eight times in the past 12 years. I’ve been there every season, in every climate, and was even married there in a small field almost ten years ago.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Yosemite is a natural masterpiece. Granite peaks that rise 4800 feet from the ground, hillsides of emerald green pine trees as far as the eye can see, magical groves of live oaks, two-thousand-year-old giant sequoias, waterfalls, meadows, lakes, streams and wildlife that is beyond description. You can also feel the strong presence of the Native American tribes who lived in the valley for thousands of years, before being pushed out as recently as the late 1800s.
It feels like nothing short of a miracle to experience a natural environment that has been (relatively) unchanged for millenniums. What I’ve learned is that while Yosemite stays the same, each visit there offers a chance to see the ways I’ve personally changed and grown. In that way, Yosemite not only offers the gift of unending beauty, but also the chance for inner reflection as well.
I suppose what I’m learning, more than anything else, is that while it’s always a blessing to travel to a place of beauty, the most important thing is to find that same beauty inside of yourself. In that way, Yosemite offers the most gentle and generous mirror: a gift that reminds me that it’s less about planning the next trip to find peace and beauty in a far-away place, and more about cultivating those qualities within, while enjoying (and sharing) them right here at home.
Yesterday I posted black and white pictures from my Portrait Project. Though I love the look of these vintage-inspired images, I did manage to capture a few shots in color.
Many of my friends are artists and creative-types, which makes it fun to photograph them in their natural element.
Here they are….
I have always been fascinated with vintage black and white portraits. The older the photo, the better. I love the texture, the history and the mystery captured in those often-haunting images. They tell such a story.
Since I enjoy trying my hand at many different things, lately I’ve taken to photographing my friends. Yes, with the Hipstamatic.
Below I’m sharing some of my first portraits, with more to come in the future.