Thursday, September 30, 2010


An electrical storm in the desert.  A bout of anxiety without an obvious antecedent.  Reconnecting with a mentor.  Confronting thought patterns I thought I dismissed eons ago.  Exploring my photographic vision.  Finding passion in unexpected places.  Record breaking temperatures.  Socializing with friends, old and new.  Oodles of gratitude.  Surrendering to the unknown.  The never ending joy of reading.  Saying yes.  Foggy canyon mornings.  Sleepless nights.  Clearing out the congestion.  Exercising the work muscle.  Breaking open into the absurdity.  September.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Muse Monday - Liz Huston

Liz Huston is a Los Angeles based photographer who has found her calling in photomontage.  One can immediately detect the cathartic purge that inspires her psychological images.  Laden with symbols, her photos are equal parts modern and antiquated in both process (she merges vintage and current elements) and point of view.  The result of hours spent toiling in a digital darkroom layering, masking and texturing has made me rethink my position on editing.  I've equated photoshop to cosmetic surgery, another fine tuning process to erase the imperfections on the surface and create a more desirable image.  But Liz is going beyond enhancing a sky or throwing light on a smile.  She is using technology to perfect a new art form.  I'm inspired, albeit daunted!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


It's hard to know how many times I've heard Simon and Garfunkle's BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER.  Perhaps hundreds.   Yet when my I ipod selected it on shuffle mode yesterday it was as if I heard the words for the first time.  Like the candy canes I glimpsed on the bucket in the desert, the clarity of this message stung my heart.  Everything I want is within arms length.  Stay on the path for around the next bend is an adventure waiting to unfold.
Sail on Silver Girl,
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Santa Claus

There's a specific reason why I chose I Believe in Santa Clause as the name for this blog. And although I may not always be the best speller I do know there shouldn't be an e on the end of Claus.  It is there because the proper way was taken.  I was reminded of my blog title as I was shooting my self portrait today.  My tripod was several feet away from where I needed to stand, and in retrospect flip flops were not the best shoes for running across the desert scrub and hopping on a boulder.  As I was propping myself up, a yellow bucket tucked behind a rock caught my eye.  As I looked further, I realized what was hanging off the rim was a message specifically for me.

The holiday movie Miracle on 34th Street became an annual favorite after I viewed it for the first time when I was eight.  I immediately related to Natalie Wood's character, Susan, since I was already aware Santa Claus was as real as a talking horse.  Two years prior my brother had purposefully awoken me on Christmas Eve just in time to watch our parents put Santa's gifts under the tree.  Susan leaves Kris's Christmas party without receiving the one present she asked for, yet she uncharacteristically continues to believe.  In the darkest moment her belief in the spirit of Christmas shines through.  Staring out the car window as if in a trance she continuously mumbles "I believe".  Her dream manifested.   She didn't have to see Kris' cane leaning against the fireplace in her dream house to feel his presence.  My faith got the perfect jolt today.  Hanging from the yellow Tidy Cat bucket were two candy canes.  What they were doing in the middle of the desert on a 100 degree September afternoon is anyone's guess, but what they symbolized to me was perfectly clear.  I believe.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This quote by Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist, struck a cord with me
A further sign of health is that we don't become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it's time to stop struggling and look directly at what's threatening us.
Today I'm surrendering to the unknown, to the tightness that can grasp my muscles as I try to let go, to the restlessness I feel in my soul.  I peer into my truth.  I confront my core beliefs and let go of those which no longer serve me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Muse Monday - Alexa Meade

I seem to be drawn to impermanence, especially when it comes to the artist's canvas.  Alexa Meade is a 23 year old artist residing in Washington, DC who compresses a three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional plane by painting on a 3D subject.  Her work is a fusion of installation, painting, performance, photography, and video art.   The physical painting exists for only a few hours, but is captured digitally turning the medium on its side once again.  Inspiration abounds!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Self Portrait Update

For the past 117 days I've been snapping a photo of myself for the flickr group 365 days.  To be honest, most shots are obligatory and uninspired, but there are a few days when the muses conspire, and I'm proud of the end result.  A friend of mine, a fine art photographer, prefers subjects who are very young or elderly, for they are uninhibited.  I still struggle with coming face to face with my image on a daily basis.  Certain smirks and gestures appear in my mind's eye completely different than they do when frozen on pixels.  It's difficult for me to let go and allow the camera to glean below the contours of my face.  And yet the photos I'm most satisfied with are the ones that go beyond my eyes and into my soul. I thought this commitment would advance my technical skills as a photographer, but in truth it has shed light on a core belief I've danced around most of my life.  Something rooted so deep inside me I have no choice but to acknowledge it, and confront it once and for all.  What the next 248 days will reveal is unknown, exhilarating and unnerving.

Friday, September 17, 2010


It's rare for the publishing of a book to cause a buzz as big as the premiere of an Oscar worthy film or the tour dates of an overexcited popstar.  Yet that is exactly what is happening to Jonathan Franzen in this  bookstore-disappearing age.  Last night in downtown LA Franzen read from his new novel FREEDOM to a packed auditorium of enthusiastic fans many who had already completed his five hundred plus page opus.  One audience member asked him if while writing he envisioned his words on the big screen.  The response was an emphatic no. His goal is to write a tale that cannot be adapted into a screenplay.  Franzen is eager to preserve the intimate experience the reader has was the author.  A connection between two beings which can only be gained through stillness, the writer at his desk and the reader sitting quietly freeing his or her mind of distractions.  I ordered my copy of FREEDOM a few days ago from Amazon. Every day I check my mailbox hoping this is the day it will arrive.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Divine Influence

According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary inspiration is a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation.  Typically, when I think of inspiration I think of the more common definition -- the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something -- but I like the idea that the guidance is spiritual.  In fact, it makes perfect sense.  I've been turning more and more to spirituality as I look for counsel in my life.  I've been peeling away the layers of my soul so it can direct me towards my truth.  After yesterday's photography class  my imagination is dancing with images I want to capture with my camera.  I aspire to capture these ethereal moments and imprint them on my soul. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Muse Monday - Jim Denevan

Jim Denevan is a Northern Californian artist who makes large scale art on nature's surfaces.  Eventually, rain, wind, or waves will wash his images away.   His art reminds me to live in the moment, create for the moment, and emote in the moment.  Truly it's all we have.  Everything else is a story rehearsed from the past or fabricated from days that have yet to transpire.  Beauty is fragile, as is life. I believe it should be celebrated, and not tip-toed around.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Broken Open

For two years Elizabeth Lesser's book BROKEN OPEN has sat on my book shelf.  I cracked the spine a few times but never got further than the introduction.  Timing is everything, and I knew the time was right when I read these sentences today
How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change.  And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.  This book is about such times.  
Something has broken open inside me.  During other transitional times in my life I could point to a specific occurrence, a catalyzing event, a cause for transformation.  Yes, there has been a lot of change in my life, but not recently.  I've been enjoying a life I used to dream about and yet something has shifted.  The path is no longer recognizable.  Lesser describes it as
where the straight path vanishes, and there is no turning back, only going through.  This is not easy. It is not a made-up fairy tale.  It is very real and very difficult.  To face our shadow - the dragons and hags that we have spent a lifetime running away from - is perhaps the most difficult journey we will ever take.  But it is there, in the shadows, that we retrieve our hidden parts, learn our lessons and give birth to the wise and mature self. 

Finding myself on this route is completely unexpected.  I naively thought I had done my work, faced my shadow and was reaping the rewards.   I come to this place in the woods humbled, grateful and seeking the courage to continue into the unknown.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Seeker

I'm a seeker.  For better or for worse I'm open to exploring all paths where enlightenment may be gleaned.  This past week my quest opened a virtual Pandora's box of whirling dervishes leaving me bereft, exhausted and panicked.  In yoga today the instructor spoke about finding one's edge and surrendering to the discomfort.  I unexpectedly found myself on that exact precipice.  For a horrific 24 hours I  white knuckled the ledge of the universe.  I was coaxed into calmness by the loving goodness and generosity of friends.  They patiently nurtured me back to my comfort zone.  They listened to my fears,  provided tissues for my sobs, and a bed for my weary body.  The experience has left me humbled, grateful and in awe of the power of the universe.    As I type these words I sit where the land meets the sea watching the sun disappear into the haze.  A place I couldn't envision yesterday.  A place I will imprint on my soul when I question what any of this is all about.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Plums and Poetry

I'm savoring every moment of the stone fruit season before it is replaced by the apples and pears of fall.  Each week, I delight in sampling the variety of plums, nectarines, and peaches at the farmers market. Yesterday, it was the green plums and purple elephant heart pluots that cajoled me to bake a fruit galette for a Labor Day BBQ.  While my tart dough chilled this morning I escaped into Roger Housden's TEN POEMS TO SET YOU FREE a necessary purchased after I devoured his first book, TEN POEMS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I was particularly moved my Naomi Shihab Nye's "So Much Happiness"
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything,
 Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records  . . .
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch.  You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Thursday, September 2, 2010


I've been dealing with a trippy head cold/sinus infection exacerbated or induced by an allergic reaction to a cleaning product.  Not being able to breath has literally sent me into a tailspin.  I've tried gargling, a nasal rinse, hot compresses, cayenne pepper in boiling water, hot showers, soaking in Epsom salts, a homeopathic nasal spray, and spicy soup.  Nothing alleviated the congestion.  I unfortunately turned to my last resort, Afrin.  Something I'm not proud of, but the world looks a lot brighter now that I can breath again.  After two nights of tossing and turning I'm looking forward to a calm, peaceful slumber.  Breathing never felt so good.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Playa

I was supposed to be leaving for Burning Man today, but my camp fell through. Hence,  I find myself longing for the playa.  For those who have never been, the annual event in Nevada sparks inquiries with raised eyebrows and cheshire grins.  Yes, there's nudity and drugs, but it is SO MUCH MORE than the sum of those two parts.  My first trek to Black Rock City was in 2003 and I've returned on four other occasions.  My faith in humanity was restored by the spirit and generosity I encountered among my fellow revelers.  What I'll miss the most is the awe-inspiring art and the massive display of creative expression.  On a barren, desolate salt bed with no water or electricity, a city which rivals modern day Vegas and ancient Rome, is erected.  In a logo saturated world, Burning Man is devoid of corporate trademarks. Commerce, money, and greed don't exist in  this civilization which annually vanishes after a mere seven days.  If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, experienced it with every cell in my body, I wouldn't think it was possible.  It's the impermanence of Burning Man that has created such a vivid imprint in my mind and heart.  Luckily, as a result I can experience it any day from anywhere.