When a one line email arrives in the middle of the night, point your nose into the breeze and take in the winds of change.
You may be too tired to grasp all that the email portends at the time, but stick it in your wallet like a Chinese fortune. I promise you will look at it later and marvel at the accuracy of its prediction.
Three months ago, Aimee sent me an email (not an actual cookie, though that would have been good too) with this message.
That was all it said except for the inclusion of a link to this.
I've been carrying around a camera since the late 70's. I still remember my very first one. It was a cheapo 110 that Santa brought me to take pictures on my upcoming trip to Disney World (a huge gift from grandmother). I was nine. All of the pictures from that trip are off-center because the viewfinder wasn't lined up with the lens. I can still smell the scent of the burned out flash bar.
The 110 was followed by a series of point and shoot film cameras, an SLR, a couple of digital point and shoots and finally two years ago a digital SLR. I thought everyone owned a camera of some sort or another. It wasn't until I posted a bunch of old photos on Facebook recently (much to the chagrin of many friends) that I realized my assumption was wrong.
You'd think after all of those cameras I'd know a thing or two about photography. But I didn't. Not really. I knew that I liked to capture moments. I was ecstatic when a photo actually came out sort of the way I imagined it would. But I'll let you in on a secret: it was all just a matter of statistics. If you shoot enough, you're bound to end up with one or two you love. Despite a desire to take a photography class, I still hadn't gotten around to it.
Over the past year or two, I'd been lurking around blogs with beautiful photography. I actually wound up the nerve to ask Yvonne and Aimee for a few pointers. Yvonne pointed me to this book (which I bought immediately--she said it changed her photography completely) and Aimee provided me with constant encouragement--that is until she sent me that link.
I knew of Me Ra through reputation. I knew other bloggers spoke her name in hushed tones. The workshop seemed like a bit of an investment, but photography was really becoming a hobby, so I signed up for the workshop.
And then I freaked out!
I was going to sit in a room with this amazing photographer and 19 other women who knew about aperature and f-stop and shutter speed and probably the Pythagorean Theorem--some of them even had their own photography businesses!
What the f*ck was I thinking?! I was going to embarrass myself.
Last weekend arrived, and the moment I met Me Ra my fears disappeared. I believe it's impossible to be around that smile, around her light and not feel inspired.
Yes she taught us how to leave the automatic settings behind and shoot entirely in manual (ENTIRELY IN MANUAL! You can do it too!), but that was such a small part of our weekend workshop. The very first note I took had nothing to do with photography at all.
"Anytime you can speak in front of people about what you do, the better."
And my second:
"What you have is enough."
Yes Me Ra is a published writer and an incredible photographer, but she is so much more. Me Ra was put on this planet to inspire women. Her artistic talents are just the tools she uses to speak to our hearts.
"Step back from your images and see what your soul is trying to tell you."
I've had a copy of The Artist's Way on my shelf for 15 years. I don't know that I've ever gotten further than the Table of Contents. That was until Me Ra started our workshop reflecting on a quote she pulled out of her well-worn copy.
I smiled as I looked at the book laying on the table in front of her. The cover was faded, the binding floppy and a rainbow of sticky notes adorned pages like ceremonial feathers. It reminded me of my copy of Let's Go Europe that still sits proudly on my shelf almost 20 years after that great trip.
My copy of The Artist's Way is no longer on the shelf but now sitting next to my computer where I can easily grab it when I can steal a few minutes to be inspired. I was so euphoric after the workshop I was mad when I had to return to work the next day. All I wanted to do was take advantage of the light outside, play with my photos in my free trial of Lightroom and spend the rest of my time reading and continuing on my path to creativity.
Oh yeah, I have a family and a job and house and...and...
But you know what? It's okay. Because last week I came across this post by Leo Babauta.
"Holding ourselves back is often considered a bad thing, but it’s not. It’s the best thing we can do, if we want changes to last. When we start a new change, often we are full of enthusiasm. But then we go all out and use up all of that enthusiasm, and run out of motivation or energy or get distracted by something else. But when you hold yourself back, you build up enthusiasm and keep it going for much longer..."
How did he know I needed to read this?
I'm the queen of charging full-steam ahead and burning out just as fast. I don't want to do it this time though. All this confluence of events and ideas and skills and encouragement, it needs to be treated differently. I know this moment is special.
I am full of anticipation with what will come. I am already seeing changes.
As of tonight, I'm not sure what my soul is trying to say through the images yet, but I'm liking what they are whispering.