Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Dreamy

Ann-Christine’s dreamy landscapes focus the challenge subject this week.

Is Dreamy a place somehow more perfect, more fantastic, more extremely beautiful, more blissfully hospitable? I often picture myself relaxing into beautiful places as I drift off to sleep. 

Is Dreamy a relationship that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and buoyant? Is it one super-special person (McDreamy)?

Is Dreamy a state of mind – free, floating, and peaceful?

In my life, all these things seem Dreamy…and yet, each one is illustrated here by a photograph I took of something right in front of me in the real world, while I was awake. Does that mean that I’m living my dream?

Must be. I am so incredibly lucky! 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: I Choose Steve

I am the joy in change and movement. — Steve

The Lens-Artists photography group is celebrating their first anniversary. Hosts Tina, Amy, Patti, and Ann-Christine have invited us to choose our favorite photo subject. They chose Friendship, Connection, Imagination, and Discovery as the themes for their respective posts. I have chosen Steve, an undeniable person in my life who has taught me much about friendship, connection, imagination and discovery during the ten years we’ve known each other.

I really do grapple with the balance between these two elements of my consciousness, the thinker and the feeler, the heart and the head. The dance between the two is where good work is done. –Steve (forthelastwolverine.com)

Steve is the owner of Scholar and Poet Books, an online bookstore with listings on Amazon, eBay, A Libris, and ABE Books.

He is an English major, a philosopher, an anthropologist, an environmentalist, a musician, a conversationalist, a film fan, a student and teacher of spiritual psychology, a practitioner of Buddhism, a brother, a son, my housemate, and my friend.

He comes from Polish-German stock and thinks of himself as Slavic and moody.

There are three ideas that I make sure to spend time with every day. If pressed to reduce these ideas to a single word each, I might pick WILD, BEAUTY and ENOUGH. — Steve (forthelastwolverine.com)

I have photographed Steve over the last ten years from many different perspectives. In the span of that time, we’ve related as co-workers, trail buddies, string quartet members, lovers, exes, best friends, classmates, tent mates, housemates, and temporary step-parents to a fur baby named Pinkle.

We share so many memories. (Well, maybe not. My memory is much better than his.) And I have SO many photos. Several albums worth…that aren’t in albums yet. There could be a Steve’s Trail Shot Album, full of photos taken while we were out exploring somewhere. This would be the biggest album.

There could be an album’s worth of photos that might be called Black & White Author Headshots.

There could be a small album of Sleeping Steve…

And Couple Selfies…

And goofy Leftovers.

Here’s what I’ve learned: once you choose to let someone into your life, into your camera, there is so much to know about that person. That choice can have a lasting impact on you and your photo files. 

Choose wisely, friends. And choose friends wisely. I think Steve’s been an excellent choice as a photo subject…and a friend. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Serenity

“You cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind.” — Henry David Thoreau

Six months ago, I began taking yoga classes at a local instructor’s farm. I’d only done one yoga class before in my life, so I was an apprehensive beginner. The instructor and most of the students in this group were of retirement age, however, so the pace was slow and stately. I started going once a week, then twice, as many times as classes were offered there. I began to realize my intention for serenity, a less fearful and anxious state of mind about my body and my future.

During the six months of class, I was also transitioning out of a relationship that I’d been in for the past 10 years. That relationship had begun eight months after I was widowed. My “Monkey Mind” thoughts were often on my insecurities: my aging, appearance, losses, desires, loneliness.  

In times of uncertainty, I find myself reverting to the role of the achiever. I begin to compare myself to others and try for perfection, just like I did as a student. I look for the A+ that will define and validate me. This is not a place to take refuge, however. It is a place of internal stress. Letting go of that role and allowing myself to see myself with acceptance and love brings me closer to serenity. I believe that serenity will manifest as good health and inner beauty. Yoga integrates the awareness of breath, movement, mind. Practicing with intention is transformative. Accepting change with serenity is a very beneficial skill for life, as life is always changing. 

My instructor put his farm up for sale last week. He and his wife have been there 40 years. I’m not sure how many more classes he will teach, but this morning, I purchased another ten. I intend to keep practicing. And I intend to make big changes in my life soon, too. Still, I believe I can find Serenity, when I am open to it, in every circumstance. That is the position of tadasana, mountain pose. Thank you, Tina, for inviting us to find Serenity. 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: WILD!

Tina posts a Wild challenge featuring the wildlife of Africa. My response features the designated Wilderness lands of America. 

“Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit.”Edward Abbey 

Sage Creek Wilderness, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”definition of Wilderness from the Wilderness Act of 1964

Black Canyon of the Gunnison Wilderness, Colorado

“In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness. For this purpose there is hereby established a National Wilderness Preservation System to be composed of federally owned areas designated by Congress as “wilderness areas”, and these shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness, and so as to provide for the protection of these areas, the preservation of their wilderness character, and for the gathering and dissemination of information regarding their use and enjoyment as wilderness; and no Federal lands shall be designated as “wilderness areas” except as provided for in this Act or by a subsequent Act.”from the statement of policy in the Wilderness Act of 1964 

Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness, Upper Peninsula Michigan

“There is just one hope for repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every inch on the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom and preservation of the wilderness.” — Bob Marshall, Founder of The Wilderness Society

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Five Elements

Our challenge this week is about five elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. These five elements are based on the Chinese theory of the composition of the world. The theory has influenced Chinese medicine, philosophy, etc. for more than two thousand years.

Amy sets the challenge bar high with her beautiful photos. 

This theme invites me to think about being grounded in the natural resources of our planet, to feel the warmth, the solidity, the nurturing flow, and the creative joy of being part of this abundant place.

Imagine a settler’s satisfaction in driving metal into wood, creating a solid foundation for the family’s protection and sustenance. Imagine the relief as warmth is coaxed from the elements of wood, metal and fire. The miracle of water from the heavens and flowing water on the land means that life is possible, that thirst can be quenched, that food will grow, that wood will be replenished.  
Imagine that settler’s joy and reverence, knowing from deep, daily experience that the Earth sustains her, her family, her life, her creativity.

She honors her connection to all the elements by living gently, in harmony and balance, with a sense of respect for this life-giving place.
May the wisdom of our ancestors teach us to live gracefully and gratefully on this planet.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Street Art

I am almost stumped by Patti’s Lens-Artist Challenge this week. My photographs are largely of natural subjects, and I am not likely to be in an urban setting with a camera. However, I did have one photo come to mind…

So, definitely paint is involved…and a street…and something natural because…me.  And yes, I moved the painted leaf because it was stuck fast. Then I took a picture of it. Does that make me a street artist?

Okay. Cool!