“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.” ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin
It’s been almost a week since we convened to hug Sandy Davis’ neck. I wish we could meet every Friday for dinner, or just laughs. Jeanne Marie’s phone says all that needs saying about my Kentucky tribe. I love them all so much, and I’m so lucky to have them as friends.
“Fear has two meanings:
‘Forget everything and run’ or ‘Face everything and rise.’
The choice is yours.”
~ Zig Ziglar
Erin Chandler had a gathering to say goodbye to 2015, welcome 2016, and bring together a few family and friends for laughs, food, and music. Indeed, we had all of that and more. Some of us met for the first time. Others of us knew one another from various and sundry parts of our lives. And many of Erin’s closest family joined in the celebration.
Erin’s first cousin, Whit, confessed to me as we stood in the kitchen. He confessed that he attended many a Stealin Horses show at Café LMNOP during his youth. He was the guy doing the pogo. If you’ve ever seen a Stealin Horses show, you’ll know that during our take on Gloria, Kiya would pogo at some point, and always the dancers would join in. Whit was one of those Solid Gold Dancers! He made my night with that story. Plus, I realized that I hadn’t been crazy all these years by thinking I knew him from somewhere. I really did.
Whit’s mom, Erin’s Aunt Toss, was drawn to the music. She was also drawn to Silas House. She was very cute about it, too, making her way around the room quietly, weaving in and out of the crowd, until finally, she made him scoot over so she could sit beside him. She’d had her eye on him from the start. Ultimately, however, she was in it for the music. The bottom photo with Whit warms my heart so much. He is so tender with her in the way he talks with her, the way he touches her. Frankly, I think Whit hung the moon. That he’s also one of the world’s best huggers is just icing on the cake.
It was a great evening just as Erin intended. Before dinner we each said what we were grateful for in 2015 and what we hoped for in 2016. I’m blessed in so many ways and grateful for every bit of it. That’s true in 2015, and it will be true in 2016 come what may.
“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit.
Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
~ James Allen
I had a guest register available at the reception. I didn’t realize I’d forgotten it until I went to bed Friday night. I attended All Saints Day service this morning and picked it up afterward. Sixty people attended Friday’s reception. Sixty people took time out of their lives to come see my work. Some I’d never met before Friday. Some sneaked in and out without my seeing them though they were kind enough to leave their signature. Some drove nearly two hours to be there. Some took off work. Some were recovering from major surgery. Some couldn’t stay long, and others stayed the whole time. Someone pointed out how many segments of my life were assembled in that room: family, close friends, old friends, new friends, co-workers, writers, actors, artists, musicians, librarians, bankers, software developers, railroad men, professors, social workers, therapists, pathologists, nutritionists, the list goes on. They’re not all represented in this collage, but I couldn’t think of a better way to have a group hug in the outhouse. Sixty people. I may be speechless for a week I’m so overcome with gratitude.
“Talking about our problems is our biggest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.”
~ Rita Schiano
Erin Chandler and Stacy Yelton: two of my all-time favorite people in the whole world. In keeping with yesterday’s faith theme, Erin even has a cross shadowed across her. Smiles and faith at brunch. It doesn’t get much better than that!
“Consider becoming the type of energy that, no matter where you go,
you always add value to the spaces and lives of those around you.”
This was a big, nervous day for me. If you’ve been following the outhouse, then you know I’ve been working on a series of photos called Sacred Spaces. The first exhibit of the work was scheduled to hang today at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Lexington. Because God and the Universe love me, it just happened to coincide with Sandy Davis’ first return to Lexington since moving to Boston. Sandy has been a big supporter of my work and she always had my back when it comes to all the things I’m horrible with, like marketing myself. I’ve leaned on her artistic senses to put this exhibit together, so it was only right that she should be there when it went up. I trust her eye, and I trust Marlon Hurst, so I stepped aside and let them hang the show. It was a huge load off my shoulders, frankly. I get too close to the work sometimes to know what’s best. I’m indebted to them forever for helping me. And while they did the heavy lifting, Harriette Swart and Stacy Yelton talked to me at length about the work itself. Their conversations were so cathartic, so soothing, that my nerves calmed and I felt more confident about the work, and most importantly, the impact of the work. It was a truly special time that I will never forget (Sandy insisted on the Kopana style selfie, and Sandy gets what she wants!).
My day wasn’t done. No, this great day was meant to be a spectacular day! We left the exhibit and met our Happiness gal pals at National Provisions for a late brunch. This was the first time we’ve all been together since Erin had moved before Sandy, Annie, and Jeanne Marie joined us. Plus, we’ve added Harriette Swart and Marcie Christensen because they are meant to be here. We’ve all had a big year, but most of us have undergone big life changes; from moving homes to changing careers to adult responsibilities, and so on. I just can’t believe how lucky I’ve gotten to find these friends. It’s mostly thanks to Deb Chenault for putting her Happiness Project out there and letting us be part of it. Every one of these women is talented, unique, big-hearted, and smart. I’m just happy and in love with all of them. And Marlon, too, because he’s cool enough to be a gal pal… if he was a gal. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
~ William James
Erin came to talk to me again. She brings a lighthearted joy with her wherever she goes. It’s just part of who she is. I had the chance to introduce her to our outgoing CEP Fellows LaTrisha Blunt and Sarah Pham. Both ladies had admitted earlier in the week that, when they were chosen to attend UK, they knew next to nothing about Kentucky. I couldn’t think of a better way to send them home than meeting one of Kentucky’s finest, Erin Chandler. Later, a backstage encounter that included Erin and I over 25 years ago at a Melissa Etheridge show came up in conversation. We don’t remember meeting each other, but we were both there and Stacy Yelton has the pictures to prove it because she was there and took them. I love the way life works in such a circuitous way, people weaving in and out like basket reeds, creating a beautiful, intricate pattern. I’ve enjoyed my interviews with Erin, and I look forward to more. And more lunches, and more dinners, and more pictures, and definitely more laughter. Always laughter.
“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.”
~ Anne Lamott
I had a chance to do an oral history with Erin Chandler. She’s a real trooper for being my guinea pig. You might recall that she’s in town for a while, so we’re making the most of it. This was just the first of 3 or 4 oral histories with her. She’s had quite the life. We could conduct a ton of oral histories with her and she wouldn’t run out of stories.
I’ve known Erin for several years now, and she never ceases to amaze me. When I think of someone emotionally strong and resilient, I think Erin (she probably wouldn’t call herself emotionally strong, but she is). When I think of someone who makes the most of whatever life throws their way, I think Erin. Her cousin Whit once told me, “She works every day to be happy.” And she does. She never stops learning. She never stops trying to be a better person. What more could anyone possibly ask for in a friend?
Just outside the studio is Stacy Yelton and Crystal Heis’ office space. They had scanned a book called “The People’s House: Governor’s Mansions of Kentucky“. Erin rifled through the pages and found several photos of her mom and dad. In case I haven’t mentioned it, her grandfather was Happy Chandler; two time governor of Kentucky and the Baseball Commissioner that desegregated the game. Obviously, there were pictures of her grandparents in the book as well. Today’s interview centered on Erin’s early life which very much included her grandparents, so it was sweet that this book happened to be around. Crystal said we should take a picture of Erin and the book. I ran for my camera, hearing Crystal in the distance “This better not end up in the outhouse.” I couldn’t help myself. Forgive me Crystal. The picture is just too sweet not to post.
“Generosity is fulfilled when you forget what you have given
and remember only what you have received.”
~ Dr. Terry A. Gordon
Jerry 6D is a full frame camera. My wide angle lens, however, is meant only for Crystal’s (the camera, not the person) APS sensor. Nevertheless, it made an interesting image of the old Chandler pool slightly more interesting. I’ve also been trying out some new software: Nik. David Campbell told me about the 30 day free trial. I kind of wish he hadn’t because I love it. For HDR photos I’m finding it superior to Photomatix Pro. It’s also pretty dang awesome with black and white. It’s a nice add to the arsenal (if I buy it), but I still favor some of the simple things done in Lightroom. In addition to being a grade A friend, Erin makes a great subject to practice on. I’m glad she let’s me practice on her.
“Train your mind to see the good in every situation.” ~ Unknown
Erin Chandler is one of my all time favorite people. Her ability to overcome adversity is huge, and even that doesn’t sum up just how strong she is. There have been very few conversations with her from which I did not walk away creatively, intellectually, or spiritually stimulated. Her friendship is enriching. Her artistic collegiality is equally enriching. Erin is a rare gift.
“You can change your life by refusing to believe your own lies.” ~ Miguel Ruiz
Erin Chandler invited Stacy Yelton and I to the first reading of her latest play Nervous Blood. We also had the chance to meet the equally talented, very kind folks who participated in the reading; Mark Austin (hat), Lucy Backer Cox, Martha Blioxem, Leslie Beatty, and Ryan Hastings (not pictured are Lucy Jones and Stacy Yelton). It’s been a long, long time since I’ve enjoyed a script reading. I find it a moving experience to hear dialogue spoken for the first time. The actors have a brief period in which to transform themselves into their characters. They’re not always successful, nor is the writing. But that’s the point: to hear the script and make adjustments. It helps shape the characters, what they do, what they may say to one another, and sometimes even change the direction of the story entirely. It’s a very interesting process to me. Erin has written a wonderful play full of excellent dialogue and deeply complex characters. What awesomeness to watch art in action, and how kind of Erin to allow me inside the circle. It was an honor.