Deep traveling

I went on a special journey, stars aligned, the universe gifted me with what I need and most care about, to be surrounded by inspiring people -particularly women, to hear stories,to connect  and to be on an adventure. I was offered a chance to see something special, if I was third eye open.

The sparkling lapis sea carried me from Miami to the Dominican Republic. I didn’t think Id like a cruise but being on that endless ocean was dreamlike with those abstract golden sunsets, watching lightening split the sky and being in the middle of the big blue, time seemed to stop.

On board this cruise was  the opportunity to be inspired and engaged, to discuss how one might effect change. Workshops were offered regarding social & environmental action, storytelling circles and lessons in Spanish, All in preparation for arrival in the DR where Fathom has partnered with local NGO’s to provide “impact activities” experiences besides the normal sightseeing, where you can join in reforestation -planting native trees’s – laying concrete floors for a family home,  teaching English to kids at the local school or adults by visiting with people in their homes or working on water filter production. I went up into the mountains where a group of women run a cocao chocolate cooperative and to a paper recycling co-op, again run by women where our group learnt the processes of operation and then worked side by side to increase productivity for the day. We embraced as we left these women, tears streaming down faces, not understanding each others words but having exchanged something beyond language.

I was impacted by the experience and moved by the people I met both on the ship and  the island. It was a joy to connect, to do something that felt worthwhile in a place of great natural beauty. I was there on a job, lucky enough to photograph the experience but I am sold on an idea that attempts to inspire travelers toward  growth and goodness, where we might recharge our world weary spirits, reminding us that we do have the potential to make the world a better place, one small act or  good decision at a time. I doubt there was a person on that trip that didn’t come back with a renewed vision.

The Fathom team were an energetic and international group from all walks of life -the peace core, activists, teachers, performers. The Captain and crew exude that charm and warmth of travel from the past. Of course, dancing the meringue on deck, cocktails by the pool and the intimacy shared with my fellow adventurers, whom by the end felt like my friends, all added to the agreeable ambience.

But most importantly for me I was touched by the open and warm people of the Dominican Republic, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we have lost something in the busy western world. Is it the breakdown of the family unit, career obsession, consumerism gone crazy?  They dance in the streets there, they smile and sing often and seem genuinely happy with very little “stuff”. Coming back to the USA , it all seems a little mad or is it just me ?  Fathom Cruises travel to the Dominican Republic and Cuba from Miami.
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SEASONS

 

blogThe seasons of life are constantly shifting, always in motion, everything ends, changes, begins. This year has been full of changes for me, some heartbreakingly  jarring and loud – the death of my friend Blake -felt brutal, like a tall tree being cut down in the forrest, though now I understand trees do fall, and when they do, they sustain the life of that forrest. Other changes were more subtle, but I have felt acutely aware of them, the swirl around me as I move to another chapter in my story, another season.

For my formative years I was endlessly  in the sunshine, the light. under the big sky in a carefree Australia,then a diversely colorful and crazy Los Angeles.. I wonder now perhaps if these years were my summer? I was shining, free, open, exploring, reaching for the light. The past 7 years  in the Pacific Northwest may have been my life’s winter. It is here that I’ve learnt about the seasons, the cycles and rhythms by which the great Mother Earth rules. I have been growing a garden myself, my daughters, my art, my story. In the winter the days are short, the dark is cold and heavy on me, my garden appears a cemetery for the lilac flowers and sweet smelling lush now gone. But I have learnt that under the soil in the deep, life is twirling and swirling. Soon to explode, to be more than before. My Spring is coming. For others I know and love too, perhaps for the world in general..

Over a few years I photographed a local hair salon, where the ladies had been coming for many years, some since the 1950’s. Now in their 80’s, 90’s to sit with these beautiful women was such a treasured experience. I just found out Virginia is retiring and the salon closing. I felt a pang in my heart as I was told but there it is, change, the shifting sands, the in and out of the tides, the rise and fall of the sun and moon, never-ending cycles of beginning and end. A beautiful circle within circles we walk, sometimes dance.

with love, seasons greetings and farewells

everything is everything

On the 8th of May, my friend Blake Britton flew away. The loss I, we all feel is so enormous and the sadness so deep, so painful. But since that beautiful soul has departed I have been so present, every moment so heightened, and  felt so connected, never before in my life have I been so aware of the oneness of all things. Never before have the flowers been so vibrant, the ocean so wild, my kids laughter so uplifting, the embrace of friends so warming.

It is hard to say goodbye..

It is strange that the one thing that is a definite in life, that we will die, is a subject we don’t want to talk about in our culture. But I don’t want my daughters to be afraid of death, I don’t want them to live with fear in anyway and this event in their young lives has been the opportunity to talk to them honestly about the beauty, the struggle, the preciousness of our short time here. Actually it has been that opportunity for all of us and there is nothing to do  but to hold on to each other, to feel united in the love for our friend,  for one another and for the gift of being here now.

We had quite the send off, in our garden, sunshine, music, stories, tequila, fireworks. So much goddamn love. Blake loved it. I heard his laughter in the thunder above us.

E V E R Y T H I N G   I S  E V E R Y T H I N G

 

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Blake

 

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The Bondi Icebergs

This last trip home to Australia I spent a lot of my time, most mornings in fact at a special place. Its an ocean pool right on Bondi Beach and has been there since 1929 when it began, as a way for local lifesavers to maintain their fitness in the winter months. They formed the Icebergs Winter Swimming club- included in their constitution was a rule that to maintain membership it was mandatory that swimmers compete 3 sundays out of 4 for a period of 5 years. This rule still exists today.

Here in this perfectly white and sparkling turqoise space you can watch an incredible sunrise each morning, do laps, take your kid to swim lessons, have breakfast and a perfect coffee, do a yoga class, sun bake and  later drink cocktails and eat at the world renowned restaurant. Its a place where life is vibrantly happening  and the people are all mixed in it together feeling good, feeling alive.

Being here each morning inspired me. I loved the goldie oldies who swim their laps each morning as they have done for years, I loved the kids {including mine} screaming with joy as giant waves crashed against the pool walls, I loved the characters this place attracts, crusty, salty surfers, immigrant women with the broadest aussie accents and brightly colored swim caps, backpacking European kids tanned, optimistic and hungover, beautiful mothers and their golden pregnant bellies, all sorts of people.

I wanted to stay here, to watch the day begin, to every morning  photograph these people,  to make them my friends and exist in this perfect human soup.

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its a fight

Its Christmas eve, its not the one I had in mind – in Australia with my family in the sunshine, swimming in the morning, easy and light.

My friend is in a fight. The 2nd round of radiation began yesterday, today he is in the ER because of the pain. I don’t think he’ll be at the lunch we had planned for christmas day, he’s busy fighting the cancer that wants to eats away at his brain and bones, his body, his young life. We have for years jokingly referred to him as the “cornfed country beast”  though he’s not really country. He has however, alway been a strong, and powerful man, an artist – a sculptor whose graduating show focused on the musings of masculinity. His work has always  thoughtfully questioned the role we play within the world we create. This christmas Im going to celebrate the fight that is life, that we get to fight..

Can we truly appreciate the gift that is our precious lives without having fought for it or an aspect of it in some way?  To get to where we want to be,  to love who we want, to be free to express who we are, to do something worthwhile. Don’t we grow up fighting -our parents, authority, old ideas /ways that need changing, our forming selves? The worlds current state at the end of 2014 seems to suggest a fight is on – a battle  against a  system that just doesn’t work, corporate greed, bad government, racism,  discrimination,  sexism, poverty and of course there is the fight to save our very planet, our home. I need to be fighting more than I am, often I am just fighting myself..

We all need to fight, for love, for life, for a better way.

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Vans man..

Recently, I went dutifully along with my van loving husband, Jonny to a “van meet”.  That means a group of people -lets say enthusiasts because they really are enthusiastic, who own and love vans, getting together to show off and talk about their vans. Luckily I am a fan of the van and have been photographing them on the streets of many American cities over the years. I love their carefree 70s feel, their colorful paint jobs, quirky details and what they represent – freedom, just being able to go,  and the possibility of chucking it all in, saying so long to mortgages, career, schedules and saying YES to adventure on the open road.

 At the meet though,  I had a great time, the vans were rad and the people were so lovely and fun. I got some photos of some interesting and beautiful people all from very different walks of life. But what interested me most about this experience was how warm we humans can be toward each other.  How kind and open and how we naturally gravitate toward sharing ourselves if we deem we have something in common, in this case vans, but umm hello people ?… we all have something in common all of the time…WE ARE HUMAN.

It seems to take something tangible to bring us together, a hobby, a cause, a war, a disaster but I believe an open heart will do it everytime.

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 Matt Miller -and his 1964 Ford Falcon >>>>>Awarded the ‘Least Likely to make it home’ trophy

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Jackie and Jonny and their orange ’78 Dodge Tradesman

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Dan Williams and his ’67 Ford Econoline

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Randall Feigner with ‘Mona’ an ’83 chevy Beauville, that takes him, his wife & son fishing and camping often. A butcher, Randell takes lovely midday naps in Mona whenever possible.

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Louis Lanning (one of the founders of the Rolling Death Van Club) and Mary Gloven with his 1966 Ford Econoline. ‘My vans mean the world to me., its my transportation, and my hobby.

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Lisa Kline Simon and her ’76 Ford Econoline>>> “the moment I laid my eyes on my steely van I knew that she was meant for me. It was love at first sight. I feel like there was a van sized hole in my heart that I didn’t even know was there. “

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Old school vanners, ‘Ma’ and “Ma Man” from the Northwest Van Council.

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Adam  Moorehead and his award winning ’76 Chevy G10.>>>I bought this off a man whose father had died 6 months earlier.  He struggled with the idea of selling it at first but finally was ready to let it go to a good home.  He had people call him from all over the country but didn’t get the right vibe from them to let it go.  He had a bunch of stories about the van and how much his father babied it over the years.  Even though his father had owned it since it was new, he decided to have it restored to its original beauty by having it completely reupholstered and rebuilt 4 years before passing away.  I made the promise to this man and his fathers favorite van, that I would carry on the legacy and make new memories with my family to honor his childhood van…

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Australia, LA, anniversaries & moments

I moved to the US 12 years ago today with a suitcase and 500 bucks.

Los Angeles wasn’t cool back then and everyone kept asking “why?’  But as a wardrobe stylist and someone who loved the idea of a bohemian Californian lifestyle, admired the 70s rock n roll scene of Laural Canyon/the sunset strip, the art of the 50s & 60s, a lover of film,  the ocean and palm trees, I thought it was a great idea, a place full of flavor and diversity. Regardless of sometimes feeling like a stranger in a strange land,  I fell in love.

I am not the same girl who jumped on a plane thinking it might be an adventure for a year or 2 and returning home is no longer simple.  I got married, have two children, became a photographer, moved to Portland, I have had incredible experiences. I am a woman now, a more complete person.  I think more aware, more open, a better “see-er” and better at living. Sometimes I fear not ever going home to Australia, forever being away from the island that is deeply a part of me. That sea swirls within. The warm fragrant air I can still smell and the laughter of my  friends and family, always there, like my beautiful mums loving smile, in my minds eye.

I can only stay present to the life I have today, here now—–> now here —–> nowhere. Things keep moving, keep changing. This week I watched Boyhood the film, shot over 12 years. It’s extraordinary, beautiful in its simple message about life, relationships, change, growth and that life,  is made up of the moments.

Last night I dreamt of being with my family then us all separating and taking different roads.  I told them to not follow a map but to go where the heart leads.  Jeez I miss the great land of Oz though..

 

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what’s essential

L E T  G O

Recently, as I floated along the river on a perfect summer day with my love and my friend  I watched hawks soaring above me, perfect trees being perfectly trees,  gently carried by the clear water I watched salmon swim upstream,  I thought about how – as we get older or maybe a little wiser, what is not essential to us falls away, worn away by time. This has really happened to me in the last few years so much, of course having children is a big part of that. Still, I think its an unavoidable consequence of living and walking the path that is ours to navigate.

I thought of my grandfather Peter Bartlett who lived an extraordinary life , with the kind of adventures books and films are made about- he passed away not so long ago at the age of 95. In his last few years life was simplified right down to its purest aspects, the most important things to him – reading, writing, watching the natural life around him, taking walks, having wonderful conversations and debates with those he knew and loved. Until it became only about eating, sleeping, watching and with only the inclination to speak if something worthwhile would be said  and then at the very end all that was left was breathing, until that too was no longer essential.

Things fall away like relationships that no longer fit, priorities adjust and pursuits devised by a younger more inexperienced self, change. Like the seasons we keep renewing and cycles keep completing like the salmon who return to their place of birth- though it is a battle to get there -to lay their eggs and to die.

What remains is what we hold or find to be dearest, essential to our core being and truest self.  That self it takes a lifetime to know or as my buddy Ricey would suggest many lifetimes..

yes

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sisters

I am fascinated by my daughters – Brave and True’s special relationship. I suppose it intrigues me so because I don’t have a sister and always wondered what that would be like. I imagined it would be the best to have a buddy who’s completely got your back, who knows you so well, shares a similar experience, a best friend who is family.

Im aware of this gift Ive been given, to watch these beautiful spirits explore girlhood so freely, usually giggling, often naked and  happily together. Its really something to see and as a photographer compelling to capture.

I am also lucky enough to have met some wonderful inspiring sisters who have confirmed that it is truly a special bond. Perhaps its a photography project in waiting that I should further explore.

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my other favorite sisters Amanda + Jessica Needham ~

 

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