Tag Archives: life

Grief, Love, and Remembrance

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A few days ago I found myself standing in front of the memorial for the victims of the racist, violent attack that happened last week on a MAX train in Portland. I stood there and cried, while other people did the same. Portland has always been my home, but standing there made me feel like I was somewhere else, in a place I didn’t know, even though I knew in my heart that it is very much this place, that led to this attack happening. This made it all the more painful. We have not done enough. I have not done enough. This incident has put a spotlight on the legacy of colonialism, racism, and white supremacy that is alive and well in our community and in our country. As long as hateful people can see their views reflected and held up in our society, these acts will continue. We must do more. I must do more. But, too many people claim to have the answers; claim to know the one righteous path forward. There is a general lack of humility and refusal to listen, that is pervasive is the current dialogue. Our community feels like it is both coming together and breaking apart all at once. But, I believe that there are no simple answers and I rarely trust those who claim to have them. Humans are more complicated than that. We live in both a causal condition, while also constantly striving towards free-will. Until we can recognize both the causality of our lives and our personal responsibility to act morally and ethically, we will continue to spin in circles of violence and extremism; of righteous self-indignation that leads to discord and the disintegration of compassion for others. We must start using love and empathy as verbs, not slogans. We must start listening, start seeking to understand that which makes us uncomfortable, and working to actively dismantle oppressive systems and ways of thinking that are woven into our culture. I am heartbroken that this happened and I grieve for the families who lost loved ones and those who were traumatized by this act of terror in our community. But, I will also continue to have hope knowing that most people are good people and that together we can work to make this world a better place for all.

 

Collage: Beyond the End of the World

When all was said and done it turns out that the world didn’t end on December 21, 2012. But, in honor of this auspicious day this collage was made as a representation of our intentions for the future! I for one am happy that we will continue on and I wish you all the very best in the years to come!

Beyond the End of the World

Collage by: Lauriel~Arwen and August Amoroso

 

The Beginning

I began this blog in May of 2011 in the wake of what felt like losing my mind. I was about to graduate with a Master’s Degree in a field I no longer wanted to work in, I was working in a job that was supposed to be my dream job, but I hated, and I had no idea who I was or where I was going. I was lonely, depressed and felt like I was slowly going mad. I began to have panic attacks daily and eventually ended up in the ER one evening with intense pain in my eyes, convinced that I had a brain tumor and was dying. Upon being discharged from the hospital and being told I was not dying, but was possibly suffering the side effects of severe stress, I realized that I was a mess and something needed to change.

A few weeks later I had an epiphany that led me to start this blog and I made my first entry. A year and a half later as I look back at where my life has gone, I realize how important this process of sharing my creative work with others has been for me as find my own inner strength and direction. I’m still learning and growing every day and often have moments that feel like I am sinking back into madness, but I also know that I now have a deep sense of self and have found immense joy in the creative process.

Below, is that very first blog post I published, and ultimately the beginning of this amazing journey I have been on this past year and a half. When I made that first entry I never could have imagined how far this process would take me. Up until that point I had never shared my creative work with anyone, due to immense fear and insecurity, and today I do it almost daily.

Now I once again feel like I’m at another crossroads in my life (but, this time I am starting from what I have already built, not at rock bottom) so I felt like acknowledging these first steps and how far I have come. Thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in my work and I hope to continue to create and share it with the world!

Today: (Originally Published May 2011)

Today, I began to mourn the loss of my creative self that so long ago I buried deep within the recesses of my mind; never even allowing myself to return to the grave site to pay my respects. The day of the burial I walked away without looking back, but could hear a faint cry for help as I had buried my artistic ambitions alive, left to suffocate beneath a mound of intellectualism, practicality, and cultural pressure. Instead I became a student, a teacher, a girlfriend and a traveler. I found artistic expression in nature and in my social circles, but never in myself. I retrained a passionate ambition to create, but with no outlet in my life, jumped from place to place, job to job, and vision to vision. Each new undertaking was only exciting as long as the initial newness and artistic imagery lasted. Not wanting to fully accept artistic death, I kept around a few hobbies, but routinely sabotaged my own work with self-doubt, distrust of others, and a wall of insecurity.

Today, my subconscious brought me back to the burial site and wouldn’t let me leave until I acknowledged what I had done. Now faced with the reality of my loss, I mourn, while at the same time fend off my inner voice that tells me to stop being silly and just let go once and for all. It tells me that I left behind my art for a reason and that it is a selfish and meaningless waste of time. I listen to these thoughts and weep at their cruelty.

Today as I grieve and question, I am also uplifted at the prospect of raising the dead and once again living an artistic life.

Today, I mourn, forgive and embrace the unknown.

On Being “Freshly Pressed”

Last week when I decided to publish my Essay, The Swifts, Conflict, Decision Making and Following My Dreams, it was with trepidation. It was clearly quite personal and I wasn’t entirely sure I was comfortable with hundreds of people I didn’t know reading it. But, in the end I thought that it was valuable to put it out into the world in order to hold myself accountable to beginning the process of facing my fears. So when four hours after posting I received an email from an editor at WordPress congratulating me on being “Freshly Pressed”, I was in shock. Now my very personal essay would not just be read by my small group of followers, but by hundreds and maybe thousands of new people. I almost panicked and took the post down. But, after taking a few deep breaths I decided that this was clearly a sign that I could no longer hide from confronting these issues and that this was an opportunity to throw the door wide open on a new path in my life.

What I never expected though, was the incredible response I got from so many of you on how the essay impacted your own life and reflective process. I couldn’t believe how many people expressed gratitude for my words and could relate to my story. Every person who commented on my post telling me how much my story resonated with them was one more affirmation that sharing this essay was important for my own growth and healing and now the growth and healing of many others.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read my words and to those of you who shared your own personal stories with me. It’s always nice to know that we are not alone on our journey and that by being willing to express ourselves authentically we can help each other through difficult times. I hope to continue to share more thoughts on life as well as continue to share my photography, which is ultimately my outlet for expressing how I see the world.

Thank you again and be well~

The Camino de Santiago: Personal Reflections

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I am 4k from Santiago, relishing my last evening on The Camino and thinking about all of the amazing lessons I have learned in the past 2 weeks, so I thought I would share. I will still post LOTS of photos once I get home as well as a post on more practical tips/thoughts on The Camino if you are thinking of walking it yourself (which you should!), but for right now I am more focused on the esoteric of it all. The past 2 weeks have been more amazing and more difficult than I could have ever imagined. While I intended to walk the entire Camino, due to unforeseen (but good) circumstances at home I had to cut my trip short, but regardless I feel like I have accomplished one of my life’s goals and did something amazing. I walked approximately 275k, which for those of you in the Pacific NW that would be like walking from Portland to Bend or Portland to Seattle. It was much harder in someways and much easier in others than I ever though it would be and most certainly one of the highlights of my life.

I came here to do something difficult and learn about myself and I feel quite certain I did both. The following are a few of the things (in no particular order) that I learned or gained a deeper understanding of while here. They are perhaps a bit cliche, but are truly the things that were the most meaningful to me and what I hope to keep with me when I return to my “normal” life at home.

Enjoy~

Lessons from The Camino:

Judging others and ourselves is the root of most unhappiness

I don’t like too much choice-simplicity makes me more happy than complexity

I don’t like excessive heat-unless doing nothing is involved 🙂

I love walking

I am happiest when I am working to make the world a better place by building something, not tearing something down

Wherever you go there you are (I think this is my mantra)

Even profound experiences don’t change us quickly, change comes slowly and is often unexpected

I love my body

Being ourselves leaves us open and vulnerable, but it’s the only way we can ever experience life authentically

I want to love someone who loves me back. I want to be with someone who is as excited about me as I am about them and is as invested in my happiness and dreams as I am in theirs. I will no longer accept less.

A smile can get you a very long way

Everything in life is a reflection of yourself

How we imagine something will be is rarely how it is

Don’t take to heart people who tell you that your experience is invalid or less than theirs just because you do it differently

The belief that you are right is more dangerous than whatever it is you may believe

It is never about the destination, always the journey, but sometimes having a destination helps you get going in the first place

I am attracted to and value kindness above most else

Unsolicited advice is rarely well received

Flexibility (the mental/emotional kind) makes for more enjoyable travels

I love this world and all the people in it, even when at times I feel like I don’t

31

Today is my Birthday.

I’m turning 31.

When I was young I never thought past 26, which was the age I pictured as being an “adult”. I didn’t realize then that adulthood was much more a process of evolution and transformation than a static end in itself.

I didn’t realize the differences between 26 and 31 and how much I would grow and learn in that time. I didn’t realize that growing up was a beautiful journey that I would actually enjoy and that with each passing year I would find more strength and comfort in myself and my choices.

I did remember when my mother turned 30 she said it was the best day of her life and that for many of the adults around me, their 30’s seemed to transform them into much more stable, kind and centered people. So, getting older was never something I dreaded or tried to avoid.

But, this year feels like monumentally an un-monumental day. There is nothing particularly interesting about 31, nothing special, nothing new. I’m just another year older. Another year to try to get as much out of my life as I can. And to be honest I feel blessed that I have made it this far, as many people don’t. I am grateful for my health and my community. And I am hopeful that this year will bring opportunities for me to expand my creative potential and continue to find new outlets as a photographer and traveler.

I’ve always liked events that mark the passage of time and celebrate life, so birthday’s have always felt quite special to me, but the more time that passes and the quicker it seems to speed up as I age, the less ready I am to mark the years as they go by. So instead of throwing myself a big party or doing something extravagant, this year I think I am going to go for a walk in the sunshine, take some deep breaths and see if I can get time to slow down just a little for the day so I can soak in the feeling of having one more year on this earth.

Cheers!