Can You Tell Me Who I Am?

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Sherry Galey did a post where she shows the results of some post-editing on a photo, showing the before and after. I commented that I liked the result – that she had made it look like her. I don’t know Sherry well at all, but I have started to get a feel for who she is through following her blog. Sherry and I exchanged comments and it got me thinking.

I have heard people say that when someone says something about another person it says more about the speaker than the person being talked about. Is the same true for our posts. I do some posts that are about me – where I deliberately tell you about my experiences and my thoughts, my struggles and my triumphs, my pains and my joys. I always feel a bit of anxiety when I click that publish button when I do these posts. I question whether I want to tell you that much about me. If I let you see the real me, what will you do with it?

Do all of my other posts reflect who I am as well? I have chosen to follow a lot of photography blogs because this is an old interest that is freshly budding in me. And I like to post my photography and usually a few lines, a story, to go with it. I didn’t know I liked to tell stories until my doctor mentioned that he always likes to hear my stories. I didn’t think I was telling stories – I was just telling him about my fun experiences.

Maybe what we post tells people a whole lot about who we are. The brilliant people behind the scenes at Word Press are continually helping us think about how to set up our blog in a way that represents who we are and what we want to accomplish. In the same way, what we post not only presents what interests us, but also how we make sense of the world. We tell people how we make meaning of what we hear and see and think, and it is meaning-making that defines us.

All writers know that the written word represents the writer’s interpretation of his/her world. So my stories are telling you how I see the world. Does not our photographs do the same? Before the age of photography, paintings were commissioned to present reality, to record history. Now photography is used to record these same types of reality. Did not the discipline of science teach us that we can be objective – removed so that the scientist only records what is objective – not our subjective?

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More recent thinking brings objectivity into question. Our photos can never be the totally objective portrayal of reality. By the time we post them, we have already imposed our subjective choice of what to photograph and how we frame it. I do some post-editing – even as I tell myself that I am only attempting to make the photograph more true to what I really see. Chew on that one for a few minutes. I might change color a little bit, or clarity, light, dark, shadows, and of course focus of interest with cropping. I tell myself that I am correcting errors from camera processing or from my lack of skill in getting correct settings. Am I also not imposing my beliefs about what reality should look like? If I am doing this, then I am telling you how I see the world (or want to see the world) as much as I am showing you how my lens sees the world. I am showing you me, one world image at a time.

And when I add narrative, I am showing you me one sentence at a time. But that is a post I will leave to the writers.  I have shown you enough of me already – and I fear that showing you the depths of my thinking will bore you. For those of you who made it this far, I send you my deep gratitude. Now I think I’ll go back and read some of my previous posts to find out who I really am. A new take on reflecting on my belly button.

If you want to follow up on some of the WP tips on creating nice blogs here are some links I found useful:

Beauty Through my Lens – Botanical Butterflies

When I went to the Naples Botanical Gardens last week, I had some photo fun in the Butterfly house. I bought a membership, so I am able to show you my favorites knowing that I’ll be able to go back for more in a couple of weeks.

I feel so fortunate to be able to experience life through so many of my senses. These images that are flat and still, bring forth memories of how the butterflies flitted around. I also just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s book Flight Behavior. The story is about poverty in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee with the plight of the Monarch Butterfly as the scaffold around which the story is built. I learned a lot about butterflies and so they are on my mind right now.

Last night as my husband and I were drifting into sleep, he put his hand on my shoulder. His touch was so light it could have been a butterfly landing. It felt so tender and loving. I think I will store this memory so if I ever have to live without him, I will be able to draw it out whenever I see a butterfly. What a miracle that my skin, eyes and brain can all work together to give me so much pleasure from something so small and fleeting.

Now all I have to do is protect the environment so I don’t loose the butterfly.


Sunday Post: Focused Attention

It is such a wonderful experience to become so focused that the rest of the world slips away and I lose track of time. All of a sudden an hour or two has passed. But oh the joy of being able to focus all the powers of my thinking on what I am doing.

Using the language of this theme, when we focus so intently the rest of world becomes totally unfocused. Our world become fuzzy around the edges. For those around us, we become out of focus – no longer clearly reachable. We are no longer engaged in life as it happens, but life stands still for us. Just us and the object of our focus, moving ever so slowly through time.

An Intimate Moment

An Intimate Moment

This image of focused attention happened because I wanted a photo of this mother and child by the fountain but I am very hesitant to take photos of people in public places – I admire people who are good at it. Instead I stood across the street and quickly framed and shot it. I think it does quite a good job of capturing this theme of focused attention and the way we can only observe them from a slightly out of focus perspective. To bring them into clear focus would be way too intrusive and break the mother’s focus on her baby.

To see more images of this theme or to participate in Jake’s Sunday Post, to to:

Sunday Post – Simple

Eunice posted on her trip to Churchill’s about a free talk on growing orchids. I have never tried to grow orchids because it seems like they take a lot of care – at least where I have always lived in the northern US where the winters are cold and the inside air is dry.

I have been walking around our neighborhood here in southern Florida, where it is semi-tropical, and one of the simple pleasures are orchids growing wild. Maybe wild isn’t the right word because my neighborhood isn’t wild – by any stretch of the imagination. Better wording would be growing naturally.

I had stopped to take a photo of what I think are ferns that were growing on the side of a tree in a front yard.

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I happened to look up and saw this simple, little orchid – growing out of the crotch of the tree.

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It amazes me how I have worked so hard to make things grow, to make things pretty, when I took them out of their natural environment. My daughter would argue that I failed miserably at the pretty part as she rescued my plants from my care. Scientists have worked hard to learn what makes thing grow so we can replicate the natural in the unnatural environment. Sometimes the result is more pure and beautiful, we have protected against blemish.

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Nature doesn’t grow perfect. Instead bugs eat holes and weather can batter. But when I see them in their natural environment, they seem to grow effortlessly. How simple is that!

This post was inspired by Jake at Jakesprinter. It is part of Sunday Post – Simplicity that you can learn more about here.

Starting Over

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Wake up Lazy Cat

I think I have to admit that I’m a lazy person. I haven’t always been like this – I worked really hard in my younger days. I accomplished a lot when I was working, building an academic program into a large, respected and accredited educational major. I, along with my wonderful husband, raised three children adults and I earned several university degrees while doing this. But now I feel lazy and this is tearing me apart and tearing me up.

I retired three years ago and life has changed a lot. As I wrote elsewhere, I didn’t want to retire but had to because of low energy and chronic pain, and I’ve come to terms with that. I am very happy being retired and don’t have any desire to work except for doing a little contract work here and there – and my desire for this is diminishing. I’m very selective. But I can’t shake the feeling that my life lacks meaning.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. (J.R.R. Tolkien)

This was a recent Goodreads’ quote of the day and it speaks to my discontent. The one that says, “What is the purpose of my life… now?” My faith in God has been central in my life for a long, long time and while I was working I looked to God for guidance – I still do. I believed that God’s purpose for my life was to give students a quality education, especially students who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get one and who want to make the world a better place. I looked to God to give me what I needed to make it through each day and to do right – I still look to God but I don’t know what to do that is good and useful and right. I still want to make the world a better place, but…

I had a conversation with friend Kerry, back when I was unhappy about having to retire and he was oh-so-ready. I explained that for me, doing so many of the things people like to do when they retire, like day trips and volunteering, were very difficult. If I had the energy to do those things, I would still be working. I have active days that are happy days but I have to plan on the following day being very quiet and, well, lazy.

Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. (Alan Wilson Watts)

I’ve been trying to redefine myself. I have thought about the lack of meaning in my life for close to a year now. I even thought about giving up and just accepting that life is just about living, nothing more. I had one of my eyeball-to-eyeball conversations with God and I think I heard that I am to enjoy life. Maybe I didn’t hear right – maybe it was just my own voice echoing this nonsense. I still believe I have a lot to give but I haven’t found a way to use those talents in a way that is compatible with how I have learned to live with my body and helps me feel useful. I know that I enjoy thinking, teaching, writing, photography, blogging – all things I have been doing. My interaction with all of you has brought me great joy – but can I find meaning? Is it enough to bring pleasure to people as I share my neighborhoods and travel experiences with you?

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I really have a lot of fun posting photography because it is popular and gets a lot of traffic, especially through the challenges that I participate in. I admit that it is rewarding to see the “likes” add up and to read your comments. I think, however, I need to balance this form of “instant gratification” with some posts that involve writing. I know a lot about the human experience. I have written a few posts on my experience with chronic pain and finding a new way of living – like this post. These posts receive fewer “likes” but also seem to touch those few of you more deeply.

I think I can find meaning in sharing my perspective on life’s joys and challenges as I am starting anew each day. I can draw on my professional wisdom to write about my todays that build on the best and worst of my past. I wrote previously that I remember my past but live each day as a new day. You know, that is what we do every day of our life. We start over, we start anew. And maybe, just maybe, what I have to say about my “new-day-built-upon-yesterdays” will resonate with what you have to say and we will build a dialogue. There, that feels good!

What about the lazy part? Well, this post has been bouncing around in my brain for a couple of weeks but I had been too lazy to put forth the effort to write it. Writing in a way that is clear and concise and engaging is really, really hard. But I am feeling really fulfilled now that I am putting the finishing touches on this post. God never told me life would be easy but maybe she was right – that I am just supposed to enjoy life at this phase of my life-cycle. This means that maybe I can make a difference through my blogging if I am willing to do the hard work that brings joy to my life. I can start over – while building on my yesterdays.

The “Daily Post Challenge – Starting Over” was what got me off my rear end to write this post. You can find out more about it and join the fun by clicking here.