relationships

Heart Warm And Full

After each class, we have the opportunity to send an email to people who attended. It’s a great way to keep track and nurture relationships. Every once in awhile someone responds. (I think I’ve gotten 3 responses out of probably 100 sent.)

A few days ago, I got a particularly heartwarming response:

Hi Emily! 

Thank you so much for hosting that class on new years eve! I absolutely loved it. That was my first time practicing again since moving to Utah and the way you taught really helped me get back into my body. I'm going to be taking the 200 hour teacher training in February and I'd love to take more of your classes and learn more about your style since I enjoyed it so much. You have a very calming demeanor. 

Warmly, 

Elizabeth*

*not her real name

It’s always so nice to receive feedback, and especially wonderful to hear how I affected someone’s practice. I was expecting 9 people for the class on New Year’s Eve. When I left the house at 10am, it was snowing furiously leaving me to wonder how many people would show. 5 people came several minutes early, and they were the only 5 there when class started at 10:30. I let them know we were expecting 4 more, and that they may trickle in. Ultimately 15 people trickled in by twos and threes. I couldn’t believe it. The room was full. The energy was amazing, and it stayed with me all day. To then receive her reply to my email warmed my heart and made me feel full.

National Cat Day

Oliver thought every day is National Cat Day.

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In this house, every day is National Cat Day.

Sweet snuggler

Sweet snuggler

He’s going to be really disappointed tomorrow morning because I forgot to pick up some more wet food for him. He loves his morning ritual. He has a little breakfast. Then heads outside. This time of year he doesn’t stay out long. He comes right back inside and gets back in bed. What a great life he has.

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Silver Lining

The other day an older gentleman was in one of my classes. He arrived early, so we had some time to chat. I asked him how his morning was going. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but he wasn’t very convincing that he was having a pleasant morning even though his words said it had been. He then asked me about mine. I mentioned I’d gotten my car back from the body shop, having smashed it a week before. I commented that I had enjoyed slowing down and doing some walking around through my neighborhood while my car was in the shop.. His blue eyes beamed, and he told me how great it was that I could find the silver lining. He said maybe he should work on that himself. I told him I have plenty of stories of tough times that turned out to be really wonderful. I mention bed bugs, he thought I’d said I’d been mugged. Hah.

It got me thinking about how we get to that place. The place where we can take a step back see the chaos or discomfort or tragedy around us, and accept it for what it is. We can find joy there, or at least a semblance of happiness. When we can acknowledge that we will make it through whatever the challenge that’s been presented, and enjoy the challenge. Laugh at it, even. 

Watching your house burn down, looking the other direction, and finding some sort of silver lining is not what I’m talking about. Non-acknowledgement does not promote growth. Really digging in to the challenges life throws you, and being able to take some pause, taking time that has been offered to peel back some layers is the gift. You may never have an answer to why, but it could point you in a direction that makes your life more rich. You experience growth, that’s the silver lining, however it manifests.

It’s okay to grieve, to be angry, to be frustrated, to feel. It’s okay to be a hot fucking mess, to be devastated, to be lost. Sometimes walking helps, sometimes sitting in silence. Drinking excessively does not. Chewing does. Slower movement and stillness. Slowing down and focusing on nothing else but the breath can help. Bringing ourselves into awareness is the only thing I know to do during challenging times. You can get there a number of ways. Some make it easier and more enjoyable. Letting go is key. Embrace the fact your world is fucked.

Acknowledge it. Breathe into the discomfort. Discomfort and agitation are places where changes are made. Let it go. Trust the process. Take care of yourself.

Correspondence

Letter writing has been a part of my life since I could write words to form sentences. Handwritten notes received in the mail are one of the many delightful components of life and human relationships. When I was helping my mother pack her house a few months ago, I discovered a small box that read "Dad's Correspondence". Inside was a letter his sister, my Great Aunt Emily, wrote to him. It was a letter I'd heard about. Other people in the family knew about it and also wanted to read it. 

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I love so many things about this letter. Starting with the envelope, it was before ZIP codes, which started in 1963. Before that, there were postal zones. Salt Lake 5 and Chicago 23. That she addressed it to his office and wrote "personal" at the bottom is also endearing to me. 

The letter is postmarked June. She opened letting him know she hadn't heard from him since Christmas, and that she was worried about him. He was going through a divorce. Who knows how often was their normal communication.

The other best part was when she mentioned he should come for a visit with the girls [my mother and aunt]. She told him Fred, her lawyer husband, said he should consult his lawyer first. She had a sense of humor, but I don't think she was trying to be funny. She authentically expresses guilt, love, and compassion.

I love it because it's a window into her life, his life, and their relationship with each other. In 1960 they were in their mid-50s. Emily's children were grown already and about to start having children, Walter had two teenagers. They hadn't lived in the same city for 30 years. 

What I love most about this letter is that it is so clear from the communication that she truly loved her brother, and she was willing to do whatever she could to help him when he was suffering. 

Camera

In putting together this site I had to sift through loads and loads of old images. Time consuming but worthwhile. It got me thinking about the evolution of my relationship with photography. I’m glad I had the experience of developing film in the darkroom and making prints. I remember what a purist I was when digital first arrived on the scene, and people were making the switch. I eventually made the switch, then scoffed at the purists. 

I thought at one time I wanted to make my career as a photographer until I noticed people who weren’t making their careers as photographers were having more fun with it. It happened around the same time I was working for a commercial photographer who had just returned from vacation. I asked him if he had photos. He said: No, I don’t take pictures on vacation. It’s like work. I felt heartbroken and decided right then that was not how I wanted my relationship with my camera to be. 

Flash forward 5 years. I was sitting at a bar in Park Slope with my friend. A guy to my right said he was a photographer and immediately wanted to know what kind of camera I use to shoot. I had just gotten an iPhone and was only using it to shoot. He scoffed and suggested I’m not a real photographer. My DSLR is heavy and hurts my back. Quite frankly it doesn’t give me the immediate satisfaction. I don’t miss sitting at my computer waiting for photos to download. It doesn’t mean I’ll never shoot with it again, but…we’re on a break. I’d rather use a film camera at this point if I am going to lug something around. 

To me it’s never been about the equipment. It’s about the story, composition, texture, it’s never been about the f-stop or film speed for me. Sure it’s fun to geek out for some, but that’s not what I geek out about. Something with crude technology can create something magical and amazing. Anyone can buy the most expensive camera, set up a business, then just send their terrible quality photos to a photographer who can fix them. I worked for that guy a few times, fixing an amateur photographer’s photos. Not just levels, curves and color…moving heads. It was ridiculous. 

At another bar with another friend just last summer, a young Australian gentleman was sitting at the end while I waited for the bartender. He had a film camera, a Rolleiflex medium format, one that I have coveted for years. I don’t know why I don’t have one, but he let me check it out. He got his on eBay and inspired me to finally fulfill that dream. 

A camera after all is just a fun toy in the toy chest, photographic images a layer on canvas. I’m sure our relationship will continue to evolve.