Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Am I Only Dreaming?

Don’t Fence Me In

Those of you who follow this space know that in five weeks Brian and I will be packing up and moving from the Boston area, where he has spent the past 2 and I have spent the past 10 years, to the beautiful state of Vermont, where who knows what may happen and for how long. It’s been a bit of a shock to our friends and family that we are really doing this after talking about it for months as a serious and imminent possibility, and in my case, musing both privately and publicly about it as a distant and vague ambition for quite literally decades. Notice I did not call it a dream.  I have long believed that humanity can be divided into those who talk about what most people only think , those who do what most people only talk about, and those who do to the constantly pushed limits of their imagination, will, passion and physical endurance what most people only do. 

  Small Pool 

If you can think it, you can speak it aloud. If you can speak it aloud, you can make it happen. And if you can make it happen, you can make it bigger and better than anyone ever expected or imagined. I do not intend to end my life with nothing to show but unspoken thoughts, empty words, and half-done deeds, a lukewarm company if ever there was one. Neither do I need or expect to achieve fame, fortune and fulfillment on a grand scale. My goals are all modest. The things I seek are found and enjoyed by regular folks in all places and at all times. There have always been only two things that can stand in my - or anyone else’s for that matter – way:  extremely bad luck, and paralyzing self-doubt.  In fact, removing the latter can help to overcome any amount of the former. When I manage to accomplish something, the only thing that surprises me is how surprised everyone else is.

 Night Runner

But back to dreams. I’ve been hearing a lot about dreams these past few years. Back in 2009 when I was traveling to a different city in the United States every month in an attempt to complete one marathon in all of the fifty states by the time I turned fifty, many people politely concealed their basic lack of comprehension by commending me on “following a dream.”  I don’t think I’ve ever heard marathoners involved in this activity refer to it as a dream. It’s more often called an ambition, pursuit or even a quest, with all the attendant associations of a determined, longterm and mostly solitary challenge.  The detailed planning and dedicated training that go into achieving this milestone are in no way dreamlike, and are actually well within the capabilities of the average human. Crossing a finish line with nothing but your own feet to thank, and receiving a medal for it, is about as real and human as it gets, and one of the few things you can do and say with certainty that it was all your doing, mind body and soul. This particular quest for me is on hold, but while it lasted, it was more than a dream come true – it was life come true.

 Coiled Tight

Back in 2010, I decided that my mental and physical health were more important than a paycheck earned in an increasingly volatile and demoralizing office setting. Co-workers seemed confused that I didn’t have a compelling job offer or family obligations motivating my abrupt departure. When I revealed that I intended to take advantage of my freedom by working on some creative projects too long given only a sliver of my attention and energy, it was as if a light went on “OH – you’re following your dream! I wish I had your courage!”  Even so, after weeks of discussion, many seemed surprised when my official last day was announced. “Wow, you’re REALLY leaving!” To this day, I am not certain why to some the lure of a dream makes comforting sense, and to others it seems the realm of threatening fantasy, and that not one person said “you are leaving a horrible job for a chance at a better life doing something you love and that sounds like a reasonable and practical move.” 

 Woven Hole

I have always had vivid and often disturbing dreams. At night my mind is host to waking dreams, lucid dreams, dreams that take place in a familiar or altered present, a past I never lived, a future I will later remember seeing glimpses of, and sometimes such rich colorful complex woven tapestries of settings, characters and scenes as to leave me exhausted on waking, as if I have lived several lifetimes between bedtime and morning. Sometimes these dreams follow me into the waking world, which then seems strange and dreamlike by comparison, and certainly more limited. Why, I wonder, can I not lift that coffee cup with my thoughts, as I did only an hour ago? Where are my white wings?

 Moon Sees Herself in a Dream

In the waking world, I have lived many moments to which it would not have been amiss to ascribe the terms “unthinkable” or “unimaginable.” And yet, I lived them. And the more such moments one lives through, the more thinkable and imaginable and doable everything afterwards becomes. Possibly I am too hard on my friends and family when they speak of the dreams I pursue, because I’ve come through my individual experience to lack all objectivity regarding this word. My dreams have so much reality to them, and my waking life has such a dreamlike quality, it is no wonder that the two seem not to be in opposition on either side of a great divide, but to share a large middle ground where the best qualities of both not only co-exist, but are better for their borderless commingling.

 The Last Place They Said I’d Never Leave (NYC)

In dreams we believe we can do anything. But dreams can also slip through your fingers without warning and leave you to face a rude awakening and the cold harsh light of dawn.  Life can be comforting in its circumscribed routines and expected outcomes, but it can also be liberating when these structures are dismantled and rebuilt to form something even stronger. So, say not that I am moving to Vermont to follow a dream. Say I am going to Vermont to live my life.   

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On the Move

On the Move

As further evidence of just how busy life has become, here I am more than a week after my last post once again apologizing in advance for brevity.  I’ll also soon be sending out my Two Tigers Newsletter to those of you on my mailing list. If you would like to receive these occasional email messages, you can add your address in the box at the top of the column at right. A second apology goes out to any of you who receive news from me from multiple sources and will be experiencing some serious déjà vu this week! 


Since last I wrote, Brian and I took another trip up north to the Green Mountain State, where we viewed a beautiful apartment occupying the second floor of an old Victorian house.  One day later we learned that our application had been accepted and that this will indeed be our new home as of December 1st. That gives us exactly 6 weeks to dismantle what it has taken 10 years to build up here in Somerville, transfer it to a new location almost 200 miles away, and begin to establish what I hope will be an existence much improved in terms of the benefits to mind body and spirit. 

 The Peacock

 Toast & Jam

Meantime, I’ve been crocheting. A lot. In moving cars, in between list making, phone calls and other communications, in fact almost every spare minute when I am not eating or sleeping. The two pieces above are now listed in my etsy shop and will also be among those offered for sale at my final two events here in Somerville. On October 29th I will be at the Burren in Davis Square, and on November 5th and 6th I will be part of the Vernon Street Open Studios event, selling my fiber creations, books and calendars out of studio 6a on the second floor of 6 Vernon Street. In case you can’t come in person to these upcoming events or live too far away, most of my photographic works will remain available on this site and I am always happy to do custom work. Also, if you do not have or wish to create a special account for purchasing my scarves and wrist warmers on the Etsy site, I would be happy to arrange a direct purchase using Paypal or work out some other arrangement.

 Unhesitating Generosity

That’s all for now. Next week I may have some Vermont photographs to share, and you will understand exactly why I am moving there! Thanks to all of you for the inspiration and friendship you continue to provide, with such unhesitating generosity. I honestly could not be where I am today and will be tomorrow without you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Divided Attention

Divided Attention

This week’s post will of necessity be brief. As my choice of title and images suggest, my mind has lately been going everywhere and nowhere at once, occasionally provoking the sensation of being both bound and lost.  As regular readers of this space will know, I am on the verge of relocating from a city I’ve spent the past ten years living and working in, to a new home in another state and far less urban way of life. Plans for this move continue to shift and develop, with equal contributions from my own will and the whims of fate.  No sooner does one lead materialize and vanish than another appears and demands consideration.

 Every Which Way

At the same time, I have temporarily set aside my creative and business activities as a photographer to focus on the production and marketing of my alpaca fiber creations, which sold well this time last year and promise to do so again, justifying one of the rare instances of my following the money.  It helps that I really really enjoy crocheting.  Below is my newest pair of wrist warmers, available at my etsy shop. I’m hoping the skull and crossbones buttons will prove popular at my next craft market, which will be held Halloween weekend.

 Alpaca Wrist Warmer in Teal Gray and Plum

I also completed a new scarf last week. In a departure from my usual color palette, and possibly a reaction to my last all-black scarf, this piece has no black whatsoever!  I must admit I am not as pleased with this piece as I have been with others. Perhaps my state of mind interfered with the creative process, or perhaps only with my objectivity in assessing my own work.  This piece features some sparkly dragonfly buttons that are sewn together on both sides of the scarf so they will be visible however it is worn. 

 Alpaca Scarf : The Dragonfly
(don't bother looking for this on etsy as it has already found a new home!)
I may be distracted and confused, but at least I’m consistent in my aesthetics. As I was assembling images for this post, I found a few taken some time ago at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York and languishing unused in my files. For some reason they appealed to me and I decided to use them without quite knowing what I would be writing about this week. Then I noticed that they all contained strong directional lines and abstract patterns, which is exactly the state of my mood and mind at the moment, and also seems to translate into the designs I use for my fiber creations! 

 One Step at a Time

Next week I will have more creations to share and more news about where and when I will be moving. Until then, a heartfelt thank you to my followers who have given me such great sympathy and support in all my endeavors these past fourteen months since this blog began. You make it possible to continue this journey with joy and hope for a better future, and this is a rare and cherished gift.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Change of Scenery

Hitting the Wall

Last weekend Brian and I enjoyed a brief getaway from the city. On the way up north to the Green Mountain State, we stopped to investigate a housing opportunity in the charming little town of Putney, VT.  Why relocate, you ask? The current view from my apartment is captured in the image above. Here is the view I would have from the house we visited, an old country estate being modernized and subdivided into apartments for rent:

 As Far as the Eye Can See
I will keep you all apprised as to when and if we will be moving to this paradise any time soon. Renovations are in progress and our application submitted as of this writing. I remain cautiously optimistic, well aware that the Universe sometimes has other better plans than the ones I make, and content to watch and wait and see how this new adventure unfolds. Meantime, I once again managed not to take many pictures while on vacation. It was drizzly and foggy most of the weekend and even as far north as Killington, the local foliage had only just begun to show the vivid colors for which it is famous. Besides, autumnal panoramas don’t really come across well on black and white film, and that is what was and is and evermore shall be in my camera. My current roll is only half-shot, so any salvaged images may take a while to surface here.

Last week I shared some images of new crocheted creations I’ve been focusing on lately. The three new wrist warmers I thought were finished let me know otherwise and demanded they be embellished with buttons, see updated image above, I believe a great improvement.  All three are available through my etsy shop.

Here is the next pair to emerge from my new fiber-focused artistic phase. Just in time for Halloween, or any time of year for the cat lovers of the world! In the true spirit of feline rebellion and whimsy, for some reason these buttons refused to be sewn on straight, but I think that suits the spirit of the black cat, keepers of whom will surely corroborate!  After one more pair of wrist warmers, I will be working on another scarf or two and share the finished products as completed.

 In Flux

Life is definitely in a flux phase at this point, with no choice but to give in to where the tides will push me next. The photograph above was taken at the beach one month ago, and here we are already in the middle of autumn. I recall that day, how the water made its way further and further onto the sand, forcing the beach goers to retreat and relocate and almost barring access back to the main entrance via a stretch of beach completely open only hours before. Everywhere visible were striations that had been left by previous encroachments of tides, and yet you could see that some folks were still surprised and annoyed that so soon after finding the perfect spot in which to make themselves at home, they had to pack up their things and move by no choice of their own. Other folks simply gathered their belongings and re-settled without complaint. 

 Time and Tide

It made me think about how change has a way of sorting human beings along a spectrum of types. At one far end are those who value stability and regularity at all costs, to the point that any change, even one that is necessary or beneficial, provokes fear, anger, confusion and grief. At the other end are those who so crave the stimulating challenges of change, they cannot live without it, and create it even where it is not necessary or beneficial. I imagine most of us fall somewhere between the two extremes, or have at times reacted with some of the qualities of both. I am no thrill seeker, tiring quickly of one situation and eagerly dismantling it in order to move on to the next. That said, if a situation doesn’t suit me, I have no qualms getting myself out of it if my well being is at stake. I am also not what might be considered a nester, or one who puts down roots, whether they be physical connections to certain surroundings, or psychological ties to a given role or identity or title defined by circumstances or persons. And yet, I am comforted by the routines and rituals that give daily life its familiar rhythms, and quickly establish them wherever I may be.  

 Loose Ties

I suppose I have struggled with this dichotomy all my life, with equal urges in me to be situated in the world in a meaningful way and also remain free.  I know many people who find their place early in life and thrive on that continuity and security undisrupted and utterly content. I know others whose whole lives fall apart the first time any piece of their cherished and established structure is compromised.  I know people whose quest for the right thing uses up their entire existence, who constantly question or defend whether the fault is theirs or that of a world which simply cannot provide them the satisfaction they require and ought not sacrifice just for the outward appearance of living happily and successfully according to accepted standards.  

 Open to Change

If you had asked me half my life ago whether I wanted to be beginning yet another new life with 14 months to go before my 50th birthday, on the verge of a complete change of scenery, company and routines, I would have said no. If you had asked me whether that was probably what would happen, and whether I would be prepared to take on such a challenge with joy and hope, the answer would have been, and still is, a loud and enthusiastic  HELL, YES!  

May you all find the perfect balance of questing and nesting.