double date

gratitude project, day 9

these avian beings remind me of the rightness of coupledom. although not in a conversational mood, they still know they are tethered to another, their mate right nearby. noah was right.

single now for several years, my mind of course goes straight to the beginning of coupledom. and to that heart melting scene in the movie "eat pray love" when felipe can't stand another second without loving liz. he beholds her reading across the room, goes to her, removes the book from her hand and says matter-of-factly, "it's time."

i recently met a woman who, after her divorce, said she would not settle for anything less in her next partner than someone who "completely sees me." and she found him. 

calling mr. soulmate man ... come see me. it's time.


i've been preoccupied all summer with a huge project which i can't write about here. but the project is starting to wrap up and i just HAVE to share my recent trip to squam. ah squam. others say it's a weird-sounding word. to me, that one little five-letter word conjures up all that i crave: stunning natural beauty, a real sense of history and place, creativity with kindred souls, and lots and lots of love ... 

the dreamy lake ... 

the beauty of birch trees which we don't have on the west coast ... 

the festively decorated deephaven dining hall ...


my sweet home away from home ... 

and then there's the art. making art. clear. easy. beautiful. serene. open. time. and space. in which to create. SUCH A GIFT!

my mixed media piece which the ultra-lovely and ultra-talented sarah ahearn taught me how to make ...

nothing but time spent in the company of old and new soul sisters ...

dr. sarah ... 

lovely, talented AND photogenic sarah ahearn ... 

sweet soul jen ... 

whimsical eileen ... 

another sweet and talented soul diana ... 

and then there's the high priestess herself, elizabeth -- whom i like to call bethie and she calls me bunny (granted, she calls everyone 'bunny') -- who, thank god, created the whole etheric thing that is squam art workshops ...

in her inimitable way, elizabeth's parting gift on our last morning hushed the dining hall -- as we were all excitedly saying our goodbyes and trading contact into -- by reading us part of john o'donohue's "a morning offering."

may my mind come alive today
to the invisible geography
that invites me to new frontiers
to break the dead shell of yesterdays
to risk being disturbed and changed

may I have the courage today
to live the life that I would love
to postpone my dream no longer
but do at last what I came here for
and waste my heart on fear no more.

and then just as quickly as i entered into this space ... snap! the party was over.

we went our separate, but squam-connected, ways ... 

i took it all home with me, in a little pocket inside my heart. the woods. the women. creativity. time.

these few soul-nourishing days -- this time -- may be past, but they remain, completely mine ...

and i recall a lingering feeling. to remember: just be ...

love and other bits: a valentine's day tribute


new to life. beautiful little girl betty.

middle life. beautiful grown up betty. who happened to be one of my mom's best friends. she passionately loved food and opera. stroganoff and puccini.

later in life. betty married and gave the world two boys and a girl who became my best friend sue.

yesterday sue's dear mom betty left this place for the other. 

may peace be with us all, and especially with sue and with betty. 

at times like these, it does seem that life is but a dream. a dream full of love and other bits.

ps - dear betty, please say hi to my mom for me.

monday memories / the sporting life: the early years

this is the beginning of another series of monday memories (similar to the "RTW trip" series) called "the sporting life." i'd like to share some of my sporting stories with you!

not to be confused with the yesteryear definition of "sporting" which my father explained meant "loose woman." i used to own a boutique stock photography agency called "see jane run" with the tagline "pictures of sporting women." i had to convince my dad that the term had shifted since his early days.

that is not what we're talking about here!

nope. this is just about my sporting life which started as soon as i could walk. or run. or climb. or swim.

even at four years old, i LOVED to swim. 

we didn't have a pool of our own, but we had friends, clubs, friends' clubs, and vacations. and my grandma had a pool. my parents took me for swim lessons in chinatown; i guess they had a good pool there. i couldn't get enough of the water.

jumping       diving       sliding      gliding       splashing       floating

hours and hours were spent in whatever pool we visited, pretending i was a fish. i'd stay underwater for as long as my little lungs could manage. with tummy touching bottom, wriggling along catfish-style for long spells until i had to surface, gasping for air, now pretending i was a dolphin with blowspout.

"adult swim" were dirty words in my narrow vocabulary, bringing a frown to my sunbrowned cheeks.

when my parents called me out of the pool at the end of a long day, i'd lie face down on the warm pool deck and they'd cover me with a sun-kissed towel. i closed my eyes and inhaled the wet cement smell. spent. exhausted. bliss.born on march 21, first day of spring, first day of aries, on the cusp with pisces ... water is in my consciousness. i dream of water frequently. flying and diving into great bodies of water.

and i was given a strong body. a body made to move. 

i was also fearless. i loved to dive, bouncing and flying and diving into the pool. when i was about eight, a coach saw me playing on the high dive and asked my parents if he could coach me to be an olympic diver. 

shortly after that meeting, i developed ear problems and had to wear ear and nose plugs while swimming for many years. diving was verboten. the olympics were not my fate. (i was eventually in a different kind of olympics, which i'll tell you about in a few weeks.)

i did join the local swim team when i was about 10 or 12 and excelled in the backstroke, IM (one lap each of fly - back - breast - free) and freestyle. 

a competitor was born!


lessons learned: whatever we loved as children -- when we were at our purest -- is really what we love always. is what makes our heart soar. keep doing that.


what did YOU love as a child? are you still loving/doing that?

reverb(erating), week one

i just found out about reverb and joined in. it's an online *reverberation* reflecting on this past year and manifesting in the coming year. dreamt up by this creative soul, who feeds us writing prompts each day of december by her creative pals who author thoughtful questions. here goes for this first week: 

1. one word: for 2010, my word has been REKINDLE, as in long lost loves. as in ... photography. yeah. for 2011, my word is OPEN. open to life. to people. to opportunities. to a good man. OH yeah!

2. writing: can i eliminate the thing that does not contribute to my writing? i actually can't think of one thing that does not contribute to my writing. everything contributes to my writing. absolutely everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. do i have any time wasters? is that the question? hmmm. well. often i stay up late writing, when i'd rather get up early and write *fresh*. my daily rhythm promotes health on all levels in 2011. 

3. moment: most alive moment in 2010 ... meeting carol, for sure. 

4. wonder: i cultivate wonder by bringing my camera on every dogwalk with daisey, every day. oh the things i see. nature's miracles everywhere.

5. let go: what/whom did i let go of this year? i let go of my mom's things which have been living in my closets and garage for over seven years. i sold her furs on ebay just last month, sent her jewelry to a friend to sell, and am working on the rest. and it doesn't make me sad (or an incapacitated puddle of tears) like it used to. 

6. make: the last thing i made? photo placecards. i make things all the time with my photos. i especially like to make photo thank yous.

7. community: squam really really really was THE place i needed to go in 2010, and the people there were THE COMMUNITY i needed to find. it opened up my whole view of my place in the world!

i am an artist.

i'd never been able to say that before. someone i know very well in france asked me who i was, what i wanted to be, years ago. i said: je suis une artiste (joining the 'suis' with the 'une' with an exciting zzzzzz. as in "je swee zoon artiste"). he laughed in my face. scoffed. you're not an artist. well guess what, monsieur? i. am. an. artist. photographer. writer. expressing my Self. because i must. 

and it was at squam, with all those other artists, those who already know they are artists and those, like me, who are timid about saying it. those women inspired me to my core, lifted me up into myself. so i can be true. 

in 2011, the community i want to build is with other artists and creative souls (which every single person on this planet is, in fact). in my daily life. here. in mill valley. 

i have lots of friends all over the bay area, all over the country, and all over the world. but very few here in mill valley. and the ones i do have are busy with small children. which makes my life quite quiet most days. so i'd like to connect more right in my own backyard.

speaking of backyards ... i visited my fab friend cyn in italy so many years ago while she was living in a little village on lake como. one of the most picturesque places on earth. every evening her neighbors sat outside watching the sunset, sharing wine and cheese and savoring the day together before dinner. 

here in mill valley, i have a neighbor about 5 doors down who sips wine from a beautiful wineglass while watering his roses in the summer evenings. so my plan is to share some wine with doug, and the other neighbors when the weather gets better. start an evening ritual. some evenings in my yard, some in doug's front yard. everyone welcome. saluté!

monday memories / RTW trip: the perfect safari

my aunt nancy (not to be confused with my birthmother nancy) left for south africa a few days ago, saying she she sure hoped her safari would NOT be anything like mine …

... my safari was twenty years ago, while travelling around the world for a year with my boyfriend. we stopped in kenya to visit with curt’s childhood friend ngugi who had since married, had two beautiful children, and was living in ngong outside nairobi. his wife and kids had never seen wild animals, so we decided to take them all on a two-day safari.

safari. just the word sent exotic images wafting through my head: karen blixen, born free, and architectural digest safari décor

the reality was, our pockets held 30-year-old’s-budget-travelers-wallets. still, i was going on safari …

we rented a jeep, two tents, and set out … along with ngugi’s baseball-bat-sized stick (tourists had recently been attacked, not by animals but by people) … intending to camp out. how naïve were we???

driving toward the masai mara, we encountered giraffes and ostrich. exciting! getting closer to a real safari! the first night we stayed in a masai campsite just outside the oloololo gate to the park. it was relatively similar to campsites at home … assigned spots, a bathroom/shower building, etc, but for the tall, lean men wearing red plaid sarongs milling about. (we heard the masai men typically did not wear underwear under their sarongs … so i, in my curious -- if juvenile -- way, wanted to see if it was true. it was.)

the next day we bumped down the dirt road south through the park. saw herd after herd of animals: antelope, wildebeest, kudu, leopard, even a lion feasting on a zebra, hyena and vultures lurking. the majesty of the land and the animals converged on one point: we humans -- not just in this game reserve but all over the world -- are on their land, the animals' land. we are trespassing on their land! so clearly and naturally, the earth belongs to the animals.

toward the end of the day, it was high time to find a campsite; we drove to the largest one we saw marked on the map in our area, only to find nothing resembling our experience the previous night.

this “campsite” consisted of an outhouse in the middle of a savannah, with trees in the distance on three sides and a dried riverbed behind us. spectacular african scenery, but still … nary a soul in sight! we decided to try one of the other two campsites nearby. each one was less impressive than the last, so we returned to the first place.

soon two masai men -- with spears -- showed up, said it was their campsite, and we needed to pay them the equivalent of $6 to stay. and for $2 more, they would sleep with us. not sleep WITH us! just sleep nearby. we promptly dug in our pockets for the additional cash. they turned and said they’d be back later, ambling away gracefully like giraffes.

after putting up the tents, curt and ngugi went scavenging for firewood, leaving me with ngugi’s wife mama-ciko (kenyan women take on the name of their first born, preceded by “mama”) and small children. traditional division of labor was seriously bugging me at this point in our travels. i was 30 and still needing to prove my i-am-woman independence. but i had to swallow my enormous pride and go with it; we had bigger things to worry about at that point. we began assembling camp, the sienna sun setting over our little piece of savannah. we were in the middle of wild africa, tiny in the grand scheme of nature. it was exhilarating! we had had the jeep between us all day. now i was feeling the nakedness of being one with nature.

unloading bags and pots and food, mama-ciko and i startled at the sight of a troupe of baboons, cackling and galloping across the far side of the field and disappearing into the trees. they seemed far enough away (about 100 yards), and i was thrilled with this brush with real safari life! mama-ciko, however, was fearful and kept the children nearby. we went about our business.

a few minutes later, however, these 12 or so waist-high baboons scampered up the riverbed and surrounded us in a circle around our little camp. mama-ciko scurried into one of the tents with the children and i deftly found our big stick. what else was there to do? one at a time, a baboon lumbered toward me, grunting. i held the stick up and, when it got closer, stabbed the air between me and it, sending the monkey to retreat to its former place in the circle. then another came at me. then another. i fended off four baboons before they all, suddenly, ran off across the field again and into the trees. the masai men had appeared on the hillcrest, thank god! i guess the baboons had “history” with the masai. regardless, we were saved (pride out the window)!

the guys returned with firewood, we ate with the masai men, and went to bed. but not to sleep. the dark night filled with ominous animal noises. ngugi got up to make another fire closer to the entrance to our two tents. he was afraid, mama ciko terrified. fortunately curt was pretty calm. my stomach was in knots. i was having my period, and was sure a lion would come bounding through our tent and devour me. the masai men did hear a lion's roar, and wanted to leave to check on their herd of cattle. no way, josé! ngugi talked them into staying … (i hope we paid them a bonus in the morning, and i hope their cattle were ok.)

morning. yes. then came morning. we had survived! spent the next day completely sobered and quiet, still driving and watching the animals. midday we came across one of those fancy tented camps (safari dream coming true??), but it was closed (sigh). desperate at that point -- and wanting nothing of a reenactment of the night before -- we found the caretaker who i pleaded with to allow us to stay in one of the enormous and luxurious walk-in canvas cabins, complete with two double beds and a private bathroom, for $50. a large sum for us, but i was primed to break the bank for some semblance of safety, and romantic safari experience! and we were able to finally relax.

sipping warm beer (better than no beer) on the stone veranda overlooking a bend in the river, all of us perched in comfy director’s chairs in the late afternoon glow. we marveled at the scenery: hippo in the river right before us. gazelle, waterbuck, oryx, fox, and even those pesky baboons at a distance on the opposite bank. we were safe. and having my ultimate safari experience, budget be damned! a spalding gray perfect moment. yes it was.

the monsoon rains poured down that night, but did we care? we were cuddled up in our grand tent. next morning the caretaker told us the hippo did some serious damage in the camp that night, while we were safe and soundly sleeping.

we made our way home to ngugi’s the following day. with stories to tell for a lifetime. and with dreams made real.

and i can’t wait for my aunt’s return to hear more safari stories. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

lesson learned: hold onto your dreams. they just may come true!


twenty years later and i still have romantic safari dreams. doesn’t everyone? the march 2008 issue of the late domino magazine featured kenya-based photographer liz gilbert (for some reason i’m enamoured by all liz gilberts) and her stylin' african nomad tent she uses travelling around the bush.

liz is now helping local kenyan women sell their stunning jewelry, and runs a straight-out-of-my-dreams lodge in kenya. dream on!

squam (this courageous life, con't)

morning squam light

squam lake. art camp. was it just a dream? rustic cabins, roaring fires, rocking chairs, making fun art, meeting inspiring new people, walking through forests. they say *magic* happens here ... sounds great, right? but it also was an opportunity to stretch myself, little challenges along the way. 

eileen wearing all her art fair finds

i found my inner lioness. found the courage to:

-       stand alone in the middle of the dining room the first night, looking around and around not knowing where to sit, all the tables wrapped in their own conversations. first night i sat with merrilee, eileen and sarah … with whom i spent my last morning as well, photographing on the dock. i stood in the middle of the dining room several more times, each time finding a place, mustering up courage to ask “can i sit with you?” and finding warmth every time with strangers who became friends.

the one and only ... elizabeth maccrellish

-       trust elizabeth’s encouragement to find my “YES!” all week long and follow that. i participated fully all day long, then in the evenings retreated to my room to rest (so little sleep prior, preparing to come to squam). on the third night i ventured out and found a rock to sit on by the edge of the lake. my yes was to forgo the nightly party in the main lounge of my cabin, of which i could hear every word and creak of the furniture and floorboards. instead i sat on that rock listening to the loons (sounds like coyotes) and the lapping water, watching the clouds float by the moon. following my yes was very different than my cabin-mates' yes, and that was ok.

jonatha brooke doing her thang

-       bop in my seat to performer extraordinaire jonatha brooke’s opening night gig in the playhouse, not caring if anyone thought i was weird, thoroughly enjoying her expressive soul. jonatha rocks!

i made my own journal!

-       tell christine mason miller all about my tendencies to want my book to be orderly, simple, straight,  perfect. “should i follow that tendency or try to break out, break free?” she was kind, gentle, listened with that sincere smile of hers. why not free it up a bit, if only on one page, she replied. gave me a bit of a pep talk. i pasted in photos askew! glued bits of pretty paper all around, working on pages willy nilly. for the grande finale, i pasted on the plain cover the little tag christine gave me at the start of class, in her fun handwriting, which had gotten water spilled on it making the ink run, ASKEW, which said, “you are loved”. and i felt it.

starting to turn

-       divulge to elizabeth, who called me about housing the week before i left, about my journey to see my aunt carol the morning of the first day of squam. she listened wholeheartedly, asked questions, was interested, on a day when she probably had a gazillion other details to wrap for the workshops. on the last morning she was crying in my arms in the dining hall, overwhelmed by the emotion of holding this space for all of us, and in the middle of all that asked me how my visit with carol went. we cried together, a perfect moment.

the lovely sarah ahearn

-       listen deep down, during the opening night meditation, such a nice way to start a week of creativity. helene asked us to take a minute of silence and ask ourselves what our intention was for the week. i waited and listened, didn’t hear anything inside for a long time, thinking nothing would surface in that room full of people. then it did, totally a surprise to me. to embrace my feminine sexual energy. WHAT?! at art camp?! had a great dream that night, the message was clear: allow yourself to receive fully.

my new friend helen from england takes a polaroid

-       ask if i could participate in the squam art fair held on the last night of camp. i had brought a little basket of my photo greeting cards to camp, just in case. i was welcomed to share a table with someone, if space allowed. caryn overheard the conversation and said she would squeeze me in if i couldn’t find another better spot. turned out she didn’t really have space because her gorgeous work overflowed on her table. but right next to her barb did have space and generously offered it to me. so i set myself up on a little piece of her table, selling my cards in public for the very first time.


-       opened to a man. toward the end of the art fair, a man stopped by the table to chat. he was not in art camp, had been driving across the country and just happened upon this magical place rockywold-deephaven. he was a photographer from california! i was attracted to him (a first in a long time). i remembered my intention for camp and found myself fondling my heart chakra pendant while we chatted. remembered my intention. stood open and receptive. he bought a card, took my business card and said he’d send me one of his photo cards. regardless of what happens with this man, i’m feeling my readiness for a new relationship. 

sittin on the dock of the lake

-       chose this inspiration card in thursday's yoga class: i am willing to change. YES!

  sarah ahearn's sketchbook class


yes. magic. and freedom.

road trip! (hill)

when i was younger, i wanted to do a stint in the peace corps and i wanted to work at club med. big plans. well,  i did work at club med lindeman island on an exclusive island inside the great barrier reef in queensland, australia. (does this mean i'm shallow?) miracle of miracles ... somehow, i wrangled myself into a job as a tennis instructor. i hope you can imagine the goodness of an experience like this ... champagne at sunset on the 8th hole of the golf course overlooking the blue blue water,

running on the wooded trails unsettling swarms of butterflies, being silly (it's in the job description) to get the guests to cast off their city-selves and loosen up ... the list goes on. we did work insane hours keeping the gms happy ... it was like hosting a 6-month-long barbeque.

the best thing that came from my time there was cynthia brown. she's part of a well-known wine-growing family outside melbourne, she had a serious job in the village in the human resources office, and she was my roommate. besides the wine she generously shared with me, and her willingness to have double slumber parties (don't let your imagination get too carried away!), she was a wonderful roommate and we've been friends ever since.

well guess who's coming to road trip with me ... cynthia!

we're taking the vw van for a spin on july 1 (to see my 2003 spin, see escape artistry). destination: yosemite, las vegas, grand canyon, zion np, moab, boulder, salt lake city, portland, oregon and california coasts, and everything in between. all in 16 days. whew!

cynthia has been wanting to take up photography, so she's now well-equipped and ready to rumble. our road trip may be a photo safari of sorts. we've both signed up to participate in picture summer and will be learning more about photography and sharing our images along the way. how are you picturing your summer?

internet access depending, i will be blogging in periodically ... stay tuned!

i dream of jamie (hill)

yesterday i was feeling playful and posted on facebook "i kinda have a big crush on jamie oliver." i just LOVE him. he's bold, brazen, hardworking, charismatic, funny, making a difference, down to earth, and cute! lo and behold, jamie visited me in my dream last night ...

in my dream, i met jamie on the side of the road -- i was a new crew member or something. we met and he *saw* me, avatar style. as in, his essence saw my essence. his strength saw my strength. his vulnerability saw my vulnerability. his courage saw my courage. his heart saw my heart. i rode in his car for awhile and we got to know each other, joking and jabbering away to the next shoot. "i'll see you later," he said. later in the hotel lobby, we met and walked in the garden for hours. talked, laughed, played tag and teased like kids. he asked me how old i was, and i said, "i'm 29 ... and 18 ... and 7 ... and 45 ... and 98." he got it. and we just looked in each other's eyes, no need for words.

next day i rode my beach cruiser to his event at a swimming pool. i was early (in real life i'm never early). ran into his daughter's friend who loaned me his daughter's bikini, and somehow i looked great in it (the beauty of the dreamworld)! my entrance into the pool was from the high dive, an expansive swan dive ending with a tuck and a flip and a half with a graceful splash. (i was actually a child high diver ... a coach wanted to train me for the olympics until ear trouble became serious.) i swam and i swam, then jamie jumped in. swimming with jamie was like swimming with the dolphins, sheer joy.

in my dream we remained fast friends for a very long time because we really *saw* each other, listened to each other, and loved each other truly.

if it's true that all the characters in one's dream are the dreamer (psychology term = projection), then the message i take from this dream is to draw upon my "inner jamie oliver," the parts of myself that jamie represents to me: strength, capabilities, humor, wisdom, courage, will, charisma, boldness, gifts ...

thank you jamie, for all that you are, and for being my dreamtime friend. (ps - i'm eating my veggies!)


btw, jamie won the one and only 2010 TED award. visionary, bold, inspiring. see him here: