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Entries in holidays (21)

Tuesday
Jan032012

Weight Lifting

My job shut down for the week between Christmas and New Years and we had the unusual circumstance of no family around, so I had the gift of quiet space this holiday.  I had to acknowledge to myself during this time just how disconnected I've been from my camera lately.  I have felt and known this for some time, but it was really the first time I have allowed myself to say it out loud. 

My camera weighs five hundred pounds.

I can barely lift it.

This makes me feel panicky.

What happens if I don't shoot?  What if I can never pick it up again?  What if I forget how to shoot?  What if I forget how to see?

I considered committing myself to another 365 project just so I have to shoot, but then I thought of the long list of other photography-related projects I have half-conceived.  I realized that a 365, with its comfortable rhythms, might just be a distraction from pushing through the fear I have about starting some new and different things.

I went outside a lot.  I breathed in the cold air.  I stretched, warmed up my muscles and picked up the heavy camera, determined to make a few images.  I did some things I am comfortable doing, and I tried some things I have never done before. 

It is the new year, and I am a beginner again. 

Sunday
Jan012012

One Little Word

A small gift from Etsy's Angel Funk, which immediately seemed like the totem I need this year. How did she know?Is it true that one little word can change my life in the coming year?  I was introduced to the practice of choosing one word for the year through the creative community I found in 2011.  One word to point myself toward.  One word to meditate on, bounce off, spin around.  One word to be my Polaris, the intention around and through which I navigate 2012.  People I know or read have chosen words like inspire, create, witness, surrender, thrive.  I thought about what I want the theme of my next year to be, what feels vital, positive, and active.  I chose

cultivate

(by which I mean)

nurture the conditions for the emergence of transformative growth

I think my work for the year is about learning to value the practice and the process more than the product.  About nurturing relationships, carving out both physical and emotional space to be inspired and to work.  About preparing the soil and trusting that there will be a satisfying harvest in the correct season.

---

I look forward to sharing this journey here this year and hearing about yours. Did you choose a word?  What is it?  Why?

I send the dear community that gathers here my best wishes for an inspired 2012, full of delight.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday
Dec282011

Cleave

This Christmas break contains nearly everything I have asked for: quiet, underscheduled, uncrowded.  I am trying to honor the simple rhythm of tasks that must get done.  Stove stoked.  Meditate.  Breakfast.  Dishes.  Play Dough.  Wood split.  Firewood loaded.  Sledding.  Snack.  Nap.  Etc.

It sounds more peaceful than I feel.

I am halfway through my 30-day meditation challenge.  I imagined claiming space for this would bathe me in a peaceful, dreamy light, but it hasn't really been like that.  It's been like watching my mind quiver and buzz and alight onto a million trivial things that I would like to care less about.  It's been observing that even when I give myself room to be alone, I bring with me a dozen real or perceived snipes, snubs and gripes that I know I need to let go.  I know.  But here we are, sitting in the dark and quiet together.  I notice that I feel alone, and not in the good way.

I am thinking a lot about 2012 in the quiet of this week.  Considering what to invite with me and what to leave behind.  What to cleave to, and what to be cleaved from.  More doing.  Less thinking.  More alone.  More together.  More dreams.  Less doubts.  More hope.  Less reason.  More movement.  More rhythm.  More joy.  Yes, please.

Sunday
Dec252011

Joy

Today I give thanks for the space you all hold for me here.  You are kind and indulgent, and I am so grateful.  I hope you have a holiday season full of love, joy, and laughter and a 2012 that brings dreams to fruition.

Wednesday
Dec212011

Half-Baked

There are probably a million ways to be half-assed in life, and parenting seems to be an opportunity for me to explore most of them.

My semi-annual attempt to expose Ezra to his roots - roots I barely access myself - started last night with the first night of Hanukkah. Basically it means we dust off my grandmother's menorah, fumble through a half-understood Hebrew prayer, light a candle and give Ez a small present. This year it will be a series of eight Hot Wheels. I imagine we are all vaguely befuddled at this exercise, divorced as it is from any larger context in our lives. And yet, here I am, compelled to do it anyway.

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My brother and I shuttled weekly between our parents' houses when we were growing up. Among other things this meant that the Episcopalians had custody of us every other Sunday morning. Alternate Sundays we ate bacon with our Jewish dad and listened to the Grateful Dead. Small wonder that I turned into a pagan/Buddh-ish/atheist.

Mom's week. Dad's week.

Half. Half.

Fair. Square.

And yet.

Here I am, still wondering what it means to claim identity and why it feels important anyway.

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Here is what I know about Judaism: Family. Laws. Other. My paternal line is Jewish in a typical American way that involves bad news in eastern Europe, long journeys, short memories. Also, Brooklyn, boot straps, assimilation, intermarriage. It did not, in my experience, involve much in the way of temple, formal holidays, or practice. No matter. They are Jews because, as my father once told me, it's what they Are.

Judaism is a religion of laws, deeply imprinted with a sense of Other-ness (enforced from both within and without, over and over). The laws on this are clear: there is no half-half. You either Are or you Are Not. You are borne of a Jewish womb or you are not. Never mind Ukraine. Never mind Brooklyn. Never mind the occasional Passover or that one cousin's ostentatious Bar Mitzvah. Never mind the paternal line.

And yet.

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We lit the first candle last night. Ezra opened the '86 Monte Carlo, delighted.

I never had a menorah growing up. My entire experience of Hanukkah consisted of an annual check from my great-aunt Hannah. My brother asked me yesterday Why on Earth? and I have no good answer except Ezra is getting pretty far removed from the family's last Jewish womb and even though we Are Not, I want him to somehow know that this is related to him. As is Gin Rummy, and curly hair, and the old sepia portrait of the Russian soldier in the big furry hat.

Is pretending to practice Hanukkah a good way to do that? Hell, I don't know. Last night it brought up the familiar combination of feeling both ridiculous and half-assed that seems to accompany any of my tip-toed excursions toward this identity. But Ezra liked it, and he was golden in the light of my Grandma's menorah.

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The book of Jewish children's stories I had as a child included the one where King Solomon was wise enough to know that no real mother would split the baby. No half-half. No half-ass.

I was never that sure of anything, my whole life.  Must have been nice.