Thursday, November 11, 2010

Redefining My Life

I started this blog because I decided that I was going to design the life that I wanted to live at this stage in my life.  The title of the blog came from the fact that I am what many consider to be of middle age.  I will be 50 years old, in just a few short months, and want to spend the rest of my life living a more authentic life.  My grandmother once told me that, "once you get your head together, your ass falls apart."  This has been true for me as well.  I have had three surgeries in the past 11 months and my recovery has been remarkable. After getting my ass back in order, I have decided to change the path of my life and again live the way that I decide to live.  I also want to live a life of service. 

What can I do to make someone else’s life a little easier, a little better? How can I contribute to the betterment of my society? I want to spend the second half of my life giving as opposed to taking.  I want to experience life as oppose to observing.  I want to wake each day looking forward to what is to unfold, expecting nothing and accepting everything.

 First I had to decide what I was truly passionate about. Now this was a process within itself, because we know what our parents wanted for our lives, what we were groomed to be.  The aspirations of others for my life often blinded me to what I really wanted. Often times you never to discover what you want in life, because as far back as you can remember, you were told what it is you were going to do, what you were groomed to be.  Even though parents have good intentions, it is not often a good thing for the kid that begins to grow up and is often not able to make this decision for themselves. I have always bucked the system and now I don't have to, because the system no longer means anything to me.

 Finding out what it is that I am truly passionate about was a hard thing for me to see,  because I now had to peel back so many layers of the onion to get to ME.  After peeling back these onions you have to really take some time and get to know the core of who you are.  Sometimes it is not the most difficult thing to do.  You can look at your life span of things where you succeeded and things that you failed. I decided that photography is what I was meant to do.  Out of all of the things that I had tried in my life, photography has been the one constant for the past thirty-two years. 

This was all confirmed one day when I was a bit depressed about my failing marriage and decided to take a drive up the coast of California.  I was feeling really lost and emotional, and cried most of the drive.  However, when I reached the mission in Solvang and took out my camera to take photographs of the beautiful landscape, I came alive. It was as though all of what I was feeling on my way there no longer existed, this was life for me.  It was empowering.  I was in the moment, in the Now, and it felt great.

 So I was thinking that any kind of photography was the key and therefore I was just going to pursue photography in all forms, and then I realized that I wanted to do more with my camera. I wanted to enlightened people to the lives of others.

The other constant has been my journaling.  Documenting my thoughts of what was going on in the world around me as well as my feelings about them.  Mostly I wrote about the many people that I have been fortunate enough to meet throughout my life, even if for a brief moment.   I have always enjoyed people and their stories; how we are different, and most fascinating, how we are alike.

No I don't intend to only show despair in this world as many photojournalists have done, because it is often in our own backyard and being ignored.  We also often ignore the many other stories out there, stories of what it is to be our brother’s keeper.  There are stories of good people doing good things and that is also something I want to show.  We often watch the news and see so much horror until you can easily become paranoid.  I had gotten to the point where I didn't watch the news or read the newspaper because I was tired of hearing bad news, and it was really weighing on my spirit, and I no longer wanted to carry that around with me.  Then I realized that there is so much good news that I was missing this way as well,  even if it is often overshadowed by the former.

 My next step was to figure out how I would make a living in photojournalism because there are so many photographers out there.  I have never been afraid of competition, and I am not about to start now.  So with that part out of the way, I needed to figure out how many other photojournalists are make a living. I have been researching this for months now, and the only way I can see it being done is to get out there and find the stories on your own dime, and possibly publications will pick up these stories along the way.  There are many contests and grants out there for artists and I intend to participate in some of these, but for now, I am just going to live the life that I feel I was meant to live, and let the rest take of itself. 

Leaving myself open for life to happen, for opportunity to present itself. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Entering Savannah

My plane landed in Savannah about 9 am on Wednesday, September 1st. I picked up the rental car and loaded my luggage for the drive into town. It was my first time home in almost two years and it was a good feeling for sure. I have always enjoyed coming home, but this time it was different.  Even though Savannah will always be home for me it was the first time I actually felt as though I was visiting.  I realized that I had actually made Los Angeles my home; or did I.    I had always felt this sense of "I am home"when I came back for a visit, but this time I felt as though I was visiting home.

 Growing up here was a great experience, but after moving back after college I didn't like it as much.  I actually started to hate being here, I felt so out of place.  Then years later I learned to appreciate it for what it was, and that is 'where I grew up', 'where I am from'.   Now I love and appreciate  this beautiful city for what it is and am very proud to have grown up here. My daughter attends college here at Savannah State University, my mother's alma mater, and will be moving to Los Angeles upon graduation next year. With the economy being what it is in this country, I believe she is going to use LA as a home base.  She has the same feelings about Savannah as I did so many years ago.

 My parents and many other family members still reside in Savannah, and I have really enjoyed seeing everyone on this visit.  I wish I had more time to do and see more.  However my time here is drawing to an end.  I realize that my parents are getting older, albeit  still in good health, I know that I need to come home more often so I can spend more time with them. My daughter and my parents are the most important people in my life and I want them to always know how important they are, in their heart and in their spirit.  There is nothing that I will not do for them, I now just want to do more with them. This trip has been a true eye opener for me.  It has shown me how important relationships are with those that you love.  It  is something that I don't ever want to live with out.

 I know the day will come when my parents are no longer with me physically, but because of the time we share and the quality of the relationship that we continue to build, I will always feel their presence. Yes, I know I could depart this life before them, if that is the case, then I want to leave them with that same feeling and understanding of what we share.

More Discovery - Steps to Getting There

My discovering exactly what it is I was going to do with the second half of my life and how I was going to do it was no easy task.  Before, all I knew is that I wanted to travel any and everywhere and document it all through writing and photography. I thought about becoming a travel writer/photographer. After doing some research, I realized that everyone and their mother were doing exactly the same thing.  There are very few successful travel writers around.  There are more travel blogs popping up these days for that reason.  Even though the idea of talking about my travels, my likes and dislikes, as well as the impact a place has on me, was something that I would like to write about, I realized that it just was not enough for me to live on.  I know that I don’t just want to travel to the usual tourist spots. I actually want to live among the locals to truly feel the heartbeat of a place.  There is also a great deal of writing out there of the many 20 something year olds that are backpacking all over the world and blogging about it, trying to create an income with ads on their websites, so that they can have money to continue traveling.  I didn't want to do this either, because I hate seeing those ads on a blog. At this point I knew that I didn't want to go back to punching a time clock and I wanted to be free to do what I wanted it to do and live life the way that I wanted to live it.  Now isn't that what everyone wants.  So I continued to look for ways to make this happen. 

I came across the idea of copywriting while I was researching freelance opportunities.  I ordered some books on copywriting and looked into taking some classes.  After exhausting this idea, I realize that this would still make me dependent on someone else and their needs, as well keep me in constant search of new business. As selfish as it sounds I didn't want to depend on others for my success, the quality of my life.   Realizing that there is just no way around hard work, which I am definitely not afraid of, but I just wanted the hard work to be something that I enjoyed and paid off for me.  Then I asked myself the question that is always posed to someone when they are looking for what is really important to them, and that is 'what would you do if money was no option?'  My answer would be take pictures and tell stories.  But how can I eat and pay for a roof over my head doing that.  Not that there were not enough photographers already doing that.  I didn't want to take portraits.  I didn't want to be a wedding photographer. So how was I going to make this happen? It dawned on me that cutting down on my expenses would be the first thing that I needed to do, and was something that I had started doing a few years ago, but I needed to cut down even more. 

Believe me, downsizing is quite liberating and definitely therapeutic.  First of all it frees you from the stress of maintaining so much stuff.  Here is a link to a list that will get you started to de-clutter your life. A couple of years ago I got rid of my car and moved to an area where it would be easy to catch the bus or train to get to where I wanted to go in the city.  I worked for Metro, and therefore I rode public transportation free of charge, so why not take advantage of it.  I never would have done this five years ago, but I did it and it worked out well.  I now had money in my pocket, because I was no longer paying a note on my Nissan Pathfinder, auto insurance, and regular maintenance, which was a pretty good chunk of money.  Now this was easy enough for me to do, because it was only me in my household.  I didn't have to take any children to extra-curricular activities or anything else.  I just had to get to work.  That was the only thing I had to do. I moved into a very small apartment that was affordable in Los Angeles, and I caught the bus.  I didn't need a two-bedroom apartment just for me.  I decided I would not pay extra for something that I didn't use on a daily basis.  If someone were to visit me they would have to camp-out on the sofa or a blow-up bed.  Other than my parents, they could have my bed. After doing all of this, I am realizing that there is still so much that I can still dispose of and believe me I am working on it. 

Like Time Warner Cable, I must have the Internet and the wireless hub, but do I need to have a constant stream of bad programming that is costing me every month.  No I don't. Even though there is some things on tv that are quite enlightening, it is often times information that I can get on-line. These days a great deal of the programming is on the Internet. So why should I pay for something that doesn't make me feel good.  So I am going to cut that off soon. There are some hobbies, liking knitting and crocheting that I have been doing for over 20 years, and have had great pleasure in doing so.  However, I don't knit or crochet near as much as I use to but I have a great deal of books on the subject that I can get rid of for sure.  My mother says that she want all of my knitting, crocheting and quilting books, and she can have them.  I have some really good stuff on these subjects and quite a few of really expensive books, but these crafts don't do for me what they once did, so there again, out they go. 

Magazines are something else that I don't need in my house.  I have a crap load of them too.  I do love National Geographic and at one time had thirty years of them, given to me by a lady in my old neighborhood, I don't need to gather them up anymore.  Now you can get National Geographic digitally and I am going to do just that, because it is a great magazine and lends itself to what I love most, stories about people and places far different from what I encounter in my everyday world.  It is a great model to emulate. I am an avid reader and true lover of the written word, but I no longer need to collect books, thanks to the beautiful influx of digital readers.  I bought the Sony Reader after a couple of years of scouting around.  I fell in love with it the moment I started to use it.  The thing that sold me on this particular eReader over the rest was that it was expandable through the use of memory cards and that you were not limited to where you were able to purchase ebooks.  The Sony uses the ePub format that is becoming the standard for ebooks, and it will also read pdf-formatted material.  However, it is not the last of its kind that I will purchase.  I love the color screen, but up until this year, there were not any color readers out there with the same features. 

Since the debut of the iPad, they are popping up everywhere. iPad still being the best at this  moment, but still not serving my needs of expandability.  The reason for my wanting a color screen is because I would like to read my magazine and newspaper subscriptions as well as many photography books on a color screen and not black and white.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Never Had Surgery Before 2009

I have had three surgeries in the past 11 months and I am doing great.  I am grateful that none of these surgeries were for things that have lasting effects, at least not on me.  I do realize that there are so many things can go wrong when you  have surgery, but I have been blessed with three successful surgeries in the past year.

 I contribute this first to my creator for needing me to stay here on this earth in good health for His purpose.   Then I contribute it to having three really great surgeons, that are at the top of their game, and last I realize that I am a strong person with incredibly good genes. We all know that our lives can change drastically with the blink of an eye therefore we have to appreciate all that we are given and take advantage of all that life has to offer. Yes even those bad times, because they are merely stepping stones to who we are to become.  It is through the hard times that we build character and strength, that we one day have to give to someone else in our paths. 

To someone in our family that is going through some difficult times or even a stranger that  may just need a caring heart to hear their pain.  I feel as though this is what I am being prepared to do.  I know that I asked many years ago to be used for the betterment of my fellow man; to be used to help others, to become a giver.  While asking, I never thought that I had to be prepared for that life.

Maybe I was not where I needed to be to do what I wanted to do. So then the preparation began.  I had to be torn down to be built up in a way that I could actually be used.  This tearing down came in many forms, first the  emotional side and then the physical side.  Now that I know what it was that I was going through, I am again grateful.  I know that I may not be where I want to be, but I am where I need to be in order to begin that journey.