“I am thankful for every experience good and bad.
I am thankful for the person it has shaped me to become today.” ~ David Bennett
I mentioned last year (I think it was last year) that Advent has become a time for introspection for me: A time to calm down when everyone else is ramping up with parties and shopping and such. It’s not that I don’t participate, I do and I enjoy it very much, it’s just that Advent has helped make me aware of things in life that are more important. It just helps me to stop and be grateful for those things. Today was the second Sunday of Advent. It was also Communion Sunday. Marlon (above) led the choir in beautiful song as usual, and Associate Pastor Caitlyn Foeshe (below) delivered a good message with a few laughs along the way (always a plus in my book). Meanwhile, I sat in the back snapping away. That, and Advent at First Presbyterian in Lexington, makes a happy combination for me. However, I have yet to capture First Church in a way that reflects how I sense the place. I’ll keep trying as long as they let me.
“We are summoned to become fully human. We must mature into people who are, first and foremost, citizens of Earth and residents of the universe, and our identity and core values must be recast accordingly.” ~ Bill Plotkin
I had the great honor to photograph nuptials between Marlon Hurst and Kathy Waa Fleming this evening. Marlon’s niece, whose name I can’t remember to save my life, was the hit of the party though she didn’t much care for the camera. It took quite a bit of coaxing to get her to smile. Her mama helped her photo bomb the happy couple. I love this kid and her Uncle Marlon and Aunt Kathy. What a blessing to be part of such a joyous occasion.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
For years I’ve been captivated by the cross at First Presbyterian Church. It stirs something in me. Its shadow against the ornate pipes of the organ is intriguing. The cross is especially noticeable at night when the lights are low and moody. Tonight I had the privilege of shooting the Bach Choir Christmas program, and it gave me the chance – thanks to Crystal Heis loaning me her long lens – to shoot the cross in the right conditions.
By the time we were ready for the group portrait, the altar steps were a mass of mic stands and enormous flower arrangements. The choir were willing to change locations, but I’m hoping we can manage another shoot without the accoutrements of performance for a better, more colorful grouping. They’re all such beautiful people that I want to see them in their glory. Plus, the church is just beautiful this time of year.
The choir was, of course, stellar. The music inspired. There were few empty seats, and I could hear people whispering words of praise for a job well done. I truly enjoyed the performance, and I was especially honored to snap a few shots through the night. I feel so fortunate to know these talented, beautiful people.
“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.
“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.
“Remember that your natural state is joy.” ~ Wayne Dyer
I met Annie Bassoni at the Woodland Art Fair today. I had so much fun, and ran into so many people I love. It really did my heart good to hug all their necks. My favorite photo of the day, however, has got to be this little girl asking Bangaly Savané for ice cream. Or maybe she was just staring because he’s a totally beautiful human being inside and out.
I was crossing the street to meet Annie when I very nearly ran into Lori-Lyn Hurley, one of my all-time favorite people ever. She is such a light to the world, and just a joy to be around. She walked with us to Elaine Heis’ booth by the Christian Church where they met for the first time. Annie wanted to take our picture, and well, we had a good time with it (below). I love these women so much even though it’s obvious it’s time for me to drop some weight. I don’t care. I love the pictures anyway. Thank you, Annie, for taking the camera away from me and letting me be with my peeps.
The next people I ran into was Bangaly and Mamadou Savané. They had the brilliant idea of an ice cream booth at the fair. Sav’s Chill serves homemade gourmet ice cream, and what better for a hot summer afternoon than Bourbon Chocolate ice cream from these two sweet men? Not much, except talking to them, too. I’m so proud of them.
And then there was all the other favorite people I saw and hugged (apologizes to Deirdre Scaggs for not having the good sense to whip out the camera to photograph her with the awesome door wreath she’d just bought). I spotted Elaine’s daughter, Crystal, from a ways off. Mr. Boyfriend, aka Ken Trainor, saw me but played along. The surprise shot wasn’t worth posting, but their shot together was cute. And surprise, there stood Marlon Hurst. More hugs, and what a sweet, happy smile he gave me. I was honored to meet his girlfriend, Cathy, too.
There were three exhibitors I intended to see at the fair. The last to be found was David and Rebecca Campbell. We always joke about my stealth photo ways. I manage to catch them unaware, the results of which are not always their best looks. They’ve become pretty attuned to my sneaky ways as a result, but I caught them anyway (above). And I thought I was going to have to resort to a telephoto lens – guess not!
Finally, we found Deb Chenault at her booth, Twelfth House Designs. Like Annie before her, Crystal grabbed my camera and popped a shot of me with my peeps. Annie did not want to be in the picture, as you can plainly see, but she was very quick to show her disapproval of kale. I can’t say I blame her. I can’t acquire a taste for it myself. It was a great day. I loved seeing so many of my favorite people. I’ve included many photos in today’s post because I started my day having coffee over the phone with Angie Bliss Fanning. She wanted to see the festival. I wish she’d been here to go with us, so I hope the photos help bring her a little closer to The Bluegrass for a while.
“There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy.” ~ Unknown
I got my sorry butt up and went to service at First Presbyterian. I admit that I probably wouldn’t have gone were it not for a meeting with Marlon Hurst. But God and the universe work in mysterious ways. So, of course it was one of the most inspired mornings I’ve had. Terry Keys met me at the door and asked to be my pew mate. That alone was worth going for because I adore Terry beyond words. It got even better though. Mark Davis delivered a significant sermon on stewardship. I never think of stewardship without thinking of my parents. They’ve set the bar extremely high. Mark’s sermon also touched on letting go (of anxiety in particular) and letting God handle the heavy lifting; a point for which I needed reminding. A young man sang like an angel during service. His name is Zachary Morris (below with Terry and Marlon). His voice is completely mesmerizing, and he’s equally charming. Then there was Marlon who is always an inspiration to be with. I walked out of there with a bunch of hugs, even one from my dear friend Bill Marshall, and a pep in my step. I’m not staying away so long again. I’ve missed the people, the church, the message, the inspiration. They make me smile.
“I don’t have time to worry about who doesn’t like me,
I’m too busy loving the people who love me.”
I’ve begun working on a new photo series born out of talks with my friend Lisa Banyai more than a decade ago. I’ve been mulling over the idea ever since. I was offered a solo show in 2015. I felt it was finally the time to do it. It’s an exploration of places/spaces where people of various faiths and beliefs may pray, meditate, commune with higher powers, whatever their method of connection might be. I turned to my friend Marlon Hurst for advice. He’s had a fascinating spiritual journey himself. He’s the music director at First Presbyterian Church. He’s also a practitioner of Zen principles, and he meditates regularly. I understand the connection; the compatibility of Christian faith and Eastern philosophy, but not everyone would. Delving into that co-existance is part of this work, too. It’s not just about the physical spaces necessarily, but about how spiritual beliefs manifest into physical forms like churches, mosques, altars, labrynths, or a small meditation room in a house. Marlon and I talked about art and spirituality. It was an important moment with an important friend helping me start this pilgrimage. I am incredibly blessed to have such giving, smart people like Marlon in my life.