Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2009 Reflections: the greatest gift of all

In amidst all the swirl of busyness and flurries of this final month of the year, the tendency to reflect upon the previous 11 months and project forward to the coming year seems a tad counter intuitive. I mean, I’ve got things to do: knitting to finish (okay, start and finish), cards to write, lists to check off and very little time to sit still and think.

Oh. Okay. I guess time for reflection would be a welcome break for my nervous system and my checking account. 2009 has been a busy year. But not busy in the usual sense of places visited (there were some) or things accomplished (which I did) but busy in an internal way. If I had to put it down in a sentence, I’d say in 2009 I was busy reacquainting myself with me.

One of the things I reconnected with in this past year is my love of photography. During my teenage and college years, my camera rarely left my side. I held ambitions of honing my craft, showing my work and I even had an unsolicited offer to buy one of my photos during a student show. And then I placed the opinion of others over my passion and the camera was put aside. Or in poetic terms: in the end, I was afraid. Afraid of not being good enough, afraid of appearing amateurish, afraid of running dry of ideas, afraid of being, well, plain.

What I’ve discovered through the journey of many amazing courses I’ve already discussed here is my love of creating for my own pleasure. It is a tricky tight rope to walk. It seems I’m conditioned to downplay the value of my own pleasure. I have trouble justifying my actions as being for my own enjoyment and that being reason enough to validate my work in my life. To say photography is my hobby also seems to deny the significant role it plays in my world. The temptation then is to believe I have to make this hobby into a profession to legitimize it but then I run the risk of opening myself to the need to please others. And as I’ve said, I do this for me.

A year ago I snapped away with the little point and shoot digital camera we bought to document our joining together with Cowgirl. And then I took my first ecourse that invited me to use the camera as a way of looking more intently at my life and my world. The camera was not an instrument of art making, but a tool for self-reflection and examination. Back in my hands, my camera was (and now is) an extension of my mind, my eye and my heart. And so I rediscovered the lonely teenager within me who longed to connect in a deep and real way with others, but was too shy to believe her voice was worth hearing. Now the Mother in me is showing that girl she has the power and the right to express herself, if only as a reminder to others we all have this right to our voice and to our vision.

In reflecting upon this past year, I would have to say the single most important thing in my life right now, beside my family of course, is my camera and my Unravelling 365 flickr group. We are a band of 30 or so who have been together over 5 months now, posting pictures daily, weekly or whenever we can. We are sharing the details of our lives with others all over the world. We are sharing our vision, sharing our humor, our hopes, frustrations, fears and dreams. Because of this group (I am committed to the self portrait a day project – committed in all sense of the word) I have found myself pulling my sick body out of bed to roll around a room in the name of self-expression;

moving out of a funk to capture a flash of inspiration;

up on my head to celebrate another’s birthday;

pausing in the midst of my life to record, reflect, and celebrate my life.

By taking time everyday to snap some part of myself (even just one finger will suffice) I am reminding myself that my life is worth noting and indeed there is much to celebrate.

And my tribe of Unravellers is celebrating with me, and I with them. Every day they remind me the world is generous, filled with beauty, light and great humor as well as great courage, passion and love. Each day my self-portrait is like a life line that keeps me connected with myself and then connects me with others. And in the process, they inspire me to challenge myself to grow artistically, technically, and creatively. (I mean, I am using Photo Shop for goodness sakes! Me, a slide librarian who is clinging to old technology.)

And now it is back to business as usual. Some online shopping to do (we are in the midst of a massive snowstorm) and a secret santa gift to finish for one of my Unravellers. We may have a cyber relationship that moves on the spiritual plane, but it is branching out into the material world. Just wait until we have our first retreat. You’ll know us by all the cameras going off, self timers beeping away.

What I want to carry with me into the new year is this habit of looking always towards inspiration and listening deeply to the voice within. She has a lot to teach me.

This is why I create every day. ♥


  1. Aw, Lis, this is so beautifully written! And I agree with all the things you said, especially about Unravelling and our fabulous little group.

  2. Self portraiture changed my life. I have even studied women self portrait artists in history because of my first flickr365. My plan is to start anew in January, since I know 2010 is going to be... well. It is going to be...

    Love you and am grateful to read your words...

  3. what an wonderful post, lis.
    it sounds like 2009 has been enriching for you in so many ways,
    and your tribe sounds incredible.
    may all these wonders continue to manifest for you in 2010.

  4. May your every wish come to light.

  5. OH! Dear Lis... you are wonderful light of inner wisdom. LOve you so much :*

  6. oh, what a beautiful, heartfelt post. thank you for sharing yourself and your heart. xo