new years cause me to inhale slowly and exhale nostalgia; then panic sets in because what did i really do last year and what i am really doing this year and can it already be (insert whatever year it actually is) and is it time to die already.
yesterday was the lunar new year, and i experienced the same feelings of reflection and endless possibilities — followed by chest-tightening fear that life is not a game anymore: i don’t care enough to keep score, so my chances of winning expired long ago. spectators have moved on to younger, more hopeful prospects and people who value currency in the form of human spawn. what are my experiences, really, but a just another lap around a deserted board game with dusty dice and tipped over sand timer?
this morning over genmai cha, i reviewed my scribbly notes from a mary kay event yesterday. the dichotomy of my state of mind splayed before me: how can my heart swirl in sunrises while my hands routinely claw out my grave in cold ground? i cannot continue with my misalignment and expect to succeed in 2017. affirmations of united mind, heart, and actions are my goal in the coming year, as i acknowledge that 2016 was an exploratory year for me; i reached new milestones in my identity.
2016 was an inside job. before i welcome a new year, let me share a few tidbits from the last 365+ days to appease the sentimentalist in me.
walla walla in winter
watching hawaiian dancers on the beach in oxnard, california
jon exclaiming “i have heard 10 different languages tonight!” while walking down the las vegas strip
being told i can have the year of my dreams at mary kay seminar in dallas … but realizing it could all end with an uber ride gone wrong
cheering for red in seattle
that time my heart grew five sizes too big
exploring swan falls
determining that, you guys, my makeup is ON FLEEK thanks to mary kay
and loving my family more than i would ever, ever admit to them.
welcome to 2016, dear readers. starting a new calendar year feels so momentous, a literal turning of the page to clean days to fill with memories, feelings, experiences, and expectations. but reality reminds us that we carry our pasts with us, on our faces, with each touch, and deep inside our hearts; we are hardly “new” as we confront the next year.
we are accumulations of our pasts, our current state, and our tangled hopes for what will be. what makes us human is our ability to reflect on what’s happened and self-determine a projectable future. what also makes us human is our ability to destroy or attain our dreams. here’s to wishing you a constructive year and hoping you’ll take the time to celebrate specific victories and share with me along the way.
i urge you to record (in your medium of choice: a diary, social media, a photo journal) your memories this year. we will remember the big events and how they made us feel, but there are so many little moments — very definitive, localized scenes of your life– that will disappear forever unless you preserve them. for me, taking a photo of mundane, everyday life helps secure those instants; i am working on shifting back to writing to further exploit those junctures in time. i challenge you to collect your memories in 2016 starting right now.
to close, here are some of my favorite photos from 2015. all of these pictures did not make the cut for social media posts, mostly because they are not aesthetically pleasing and/or seemed all-together too personal. but here, they find a home in this blog post about encapsulating a moment that fits inside a larger narrative of life.
while my selfie skill level falls well above moderate, there is no way around it: that IS sweat after an intense gym session. for most of my life, i believed that skinny = healthy; i still struggle daily with my body image and have made growing physically stronger a lifelong pursuit. my body is reflection of my lifestyle. i hope you see dedication and a work in progress in this picture.
i love my little city of trees. but i also hate spring in boise because of allergies. i hate summer in boise because i can feel the overly intense sunshine rearranging my skin cells into cancer and the hills become barren, sun-fried acres of fire hazards. i hate fall in boise because it is too short and my allergies return with a debilitating vengeance. and finally i hate winter in boise because snow and ice are disgustingly dangerous, bone-chilling monsters that prove the devil is winning. at least four times a year i vow that i will leave boise and never look back.
my friend amy asked me to model to expand her photography portfolio for tree city studios. for me, i chose to accept the challenge to practice manipulating a camera from the other end of the lens. during our session, amy and i tried not to disturb nesting Canada geese, climbed over fences and into dried up marshy swamps for backgrounds, and raced the setting sun to find enough light for the shots. i enjoyed my evening as a model and would love an opportunity to be someone’s subject again.
standing on the bridge at the mk nature center, you can see fish shadows and various underwater features like rocks and submerged trees. on a sunny, breeze-free day, you can also watch the clouds reflected on the pond water. and on a day like this, you can admire the symbolism of sky above and earth below dancing together on mirror-like water.
i used my camera zoom to determine if a goose was standing on one leg in a small quarry in twin falls. i will leave it up to you, dear reader, to create a compelling backstory for the lone foreigner teetering at green water’s edge.
on may 25, 2015, jon wanted to drive to horseshoe bend to show me the wave park on the river where he claims he is a local “legend.” camera in hand, i snapped pictures as he narrated his past adventures of downhill street luging and observing the awesomeness of a rock that looks like a loaf of bread with a sliced off end piece. as we ascended a hill to find a suitable vantage point for breadloaf rock, a light spring rain started and the cloud cover helped create a muted, almost melancholy feeling to most of pictures i took that day. a few hours after this picture was taken, jon asked me to marry him and then we got cherry ices from burger king.
40 days after jon proposed, we got married. a few days before the wedding, i realized that i would not be able to get ready alone while meditating and relaxing in my studio apartment as planned since i needed someone to lace the back of my wedding dress. so, in my parent’s bathroom, i prepared for perhaps the most important photo day ever and then took a selfie — of course. i applied all of my own makeup (skincare and color are all by mary kay) and did my own hair (thank you, pinterest) for what might have been the most low-key “let’s see how this goes” wedding ceremony prep in the history of pre-wedding moments. i was very fortunate that everything came together smoothly (including trying on my lipstick color just a few seconds before this selfie). my “something blue” is a turquoise earring stud that was a Christmas gift from my brother in my right ear. not pictured is my left earring stud which was my paternal grandmother’s fire opal.
one of my favorite days of summer 2015 was visiting vale, oregon to photograph the city’s numerous giant murals. the artwork depicts early life along the oregon trail, including important tasks shown here in “the branding” by larry bute. the symbols along the top are actual locals’ cattle brands who donated to the mural project. as i set up my long landscape shot, i noticed a horridly distracting green trash can (stored so nicely in a dumpster container painted to look like a packed wagon), so jon wheeled it out of sight — but not before i could document this moment that proves he really is my partner in crime.
jon and i ran our first 5k together at the Idaho wine run in marsing as one of the state’s (possibly the pacific northwest’s?) biggest wildfires raged on just miles from the winery. spoiler alert: my favorite picture is not the smoke-filled skies.
nor the fact that i smile demonically (and unknowingly) while running.
but really, my favorite picture is jon’s official race photo with “FUN” written all over his face, obviously. with no training prior to the race, jon still beat my by a few solid minutes. so i guess we know who will outlive the other when the zombie apocalypse happens. so thankful to have photographic proof of making my husband suffer.
i’m still getting used to jon’s last name. i still don’t feel a part of the “murray” name (and perhaps never will) but as we prepared to visit our families on Christmas day, i finally felt like part of a couple that can actually take car selfies together, albeit slightly blurry and completely cheesy. which is extremely momentous and a deal-breaker.
enjoy your new year, dear readers. thank you for allowing me to share some moments from 2015 that will hopefully prove a solid foundation for a memorable 2016.
thank you for finding me and allowing me to share my thoughts with you. since we last spoke, so many things have changed; but the fundamental need to express myself creatively has remained painfully the same. i find myself mentally composing, reader, almost constantly — and i’ve decided it must be time to write again, as my mind’s steady monologue narrates my observations and reflections relentlessly these days. for a while, words failed me so i took and posted photographs to tell my story.
but my heart tells me this is where i need to be. here: writing to you.
my goal is not to persuade you, or impress you, or change you. my purpose is to share my experiences and reflections in hopes that you might recognize a similar thread in your own life or thoughts — what it means to be human is connecting with others — and, ideally, provoke you to look inward and project your findings creatively in your own way. maybe you’ll start a blog too and we can entertain and delight readers together. maybe you’ll start to notice how morning sun sparkles through teary dew-drops on blades of grass in the fall; maybe you’ll smile to yourself when you see a quiet, active-minded girl seated apart from the crowd, her eyes searching and observing and reaping her surroundings for inspiration; maybe you’ll find yourself appreciating beauty all around you — you just have to look for it.
my goal is to read twelve books in 2017. keep track of my progress here:
1. "The Art of Forgetting: A Novel" by Peter Palmieri
2. "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" by Maria Semple
3. "I, Lucifer" by Glen Duncan
4. "Pacific Avenue" by Anne Watson
5. "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins
6. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn