Peace in the wilderness

December 7, 2012 § 4 Comments

A few weeks ago I went to a little town in Northern Wisconsin for a personal retreat. For the past few years I have had a practice to take a few days away from the city pattern life to listen, restore, and rejuvenate my soul. The first few hours were a bit frustrating with the silence around me and the noise within me, but the peace from freedom did come.


The colors reflected in the lake from this autumn sunset was incredible.


An eight-legged creature making its home in this wispy plant.


I wonder whose tracks this footprint belongs to. Do you know?


A camera self-timer is perfect for capturing moments when one is alone in a cabin in the wilderness. Many moments were spent here with a warm drink in hand.

How do you rejuvenate your soul?


Self-Portrait in November

December 3, 2012 § 3 Comments

I’ve been wanting to do a series of self-portraits ever since seeing Vivian Maier’s unique collection, but I’ve also been a bit shy about it. It’s seems somehow egotistical or self-absorbed to post all photos of myself – and more vulnerable too.

I’ve definitely learned more about my body in the process – like my incredibly bad posture (I may finally listen to my mother and stand up straight!), where I need to work on my lines in yoga positions, and how in photos and in life I prefer to glance to the side rather than straight on. But I’ve also been obsessed recently with Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on how our body language shapes our mentality. Her opinion is that standing in postures of power and confidence for a few minutes will change how we think about our role in a situation. It’s been interesting over the month how my postures have oscillated between confidence and vulnerability. Both are positive and needed, I think, but they are each best in different situations. I am working towards both at the right times.

Here are a few highlights from the month.

writing in the kitchen with teahallway self-portrait


shoulderafter a long night

hand reaching

You can view the rest here.

Weekend Do: Poetry Edition

November 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

I can’t help it. I’m immersed in poems. Here are all the books I’ve received in the last month from my poet friends – so much to read!

If you don’t like poetry, then start small. Take this sweet, brief poem by Robert Bly, and consider someone’s hands this weekend.

“Taking the hands of someone you love,
You see they are delicate cages . . .
Tiny birds are singing
In the secluded prairies
And in the deep valleys of the hand.”

These are the hands of people I love:

And remember that your life is your life. Know it while you have it.

Disregarding the red line

November 26, 2012 § 3 Comments

This past weekend in a game of Scruples I was asked a question similar to this, “You have a foreign name that may be difficult to pronounce. Do you change it?” Automatically I replied with a strong, “No.” Recently, I realized that being known and called by name has a stronger tied to my identity than I previously thought. There’s something to having someone greet, ask, direct, and affirm me by using my name – Pakou. Sometimes when I type my name out and that red, squiggly, error line appears under it I get a little irritated. It’s my name not an error.

Finding myself in the woods with this untouched, beautiful view.

Of course, in the simplest form names are made of phonemes and syllables strung together, but to me they are so much more. Sometimes just mentioning someone’s name a photo strip flashes moments of smells, conversations, touches, and feelings of that person in me. How quickly that happens.

When I was younger I would cringed whenever someone new mispronounced my name. I absolutely wished my name was Josephine or Isabella. Not anymore though. I like Pakou. I’ve fallen into it even if the red, squiggly, error line continues to appear.

What are you disregarding today?

Paucity in October

November 19, 2012 § 3 Comments

So I’m way late in posting my October photos, largely because there was a paucity of time on my part in getting them done and lately a paucity of computer access (another trip to the Apple store is due tomorrow…). But I’m posting them now, the theme of which – if you couldn’t tell by now – was paucity or lacking, which is odd, perhaps, to think about lack a few days before Thanksgiving. But maybe helpful. Maybe the first step to leaning into gratitude is considering lack.

As usual, I didn’t quite know when I chose this month’s word what I would be taking pictures of. A lot of empty plates, I supposed. I think my mentality veered more towards simplicity. Not trying to capture a lack, but trying to strip down and take away, to let lack focus the subject. Which perhaps meant I noticed a lot of bare walls and light. I also found myself looking at very cluttered, very busy scenes and still finding something missing from them. Parked cars without an even, straight line. Party lights with no people to make the party.

In editing, I wanted to make a few photos black and white, and yet I found I liked them more with just a small amount of color, a yellow tinge to a shadow or a grayish wall. So I guess a lack without a complete absence of color was another way this theme played out.

Here are a few highlights.

You can see the rest here. And I’m working on November’s theme. May your Thanksgiving be abundant.

The Disembodied Genius

November 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yesterday as my class visited with the poets Maxine Scates and Jeanne Marie Beaumont, we talked about the writing process and how one knows a piece is completed:

“Every time I find an ending, it feels like a gift.”
“The poem should be telling me things I don’t know.”
“The poem, like breath, is the world passing through us.”

They saw themselves as a vehicle for the poem, often a voice for those who don’t have a voice.

Their comments – particularly Beaumont’s who openly admits and celebrates her superstitious nature – reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk a few years ago on our relationship to the creative spirit, “a divine, attendant spirit that comes to human beings from some distant, unknowable source for distant unknowable reasons.” It’s not that we are geniuses, it’s that we have a genius. Creativity does not come from us directly; we just show up to do our part.

So today I am showing up to my kitchen table, pen and paper close by, and we will see what the day brings. And here’s an invitation to you, Reader – a weekend do, if you will: Show up to your creative space and wait.

Craft edition – Watercolor

November 12, 2012 § 1 Comment

It’s mid-November and I realized I have yet to post my creative projects from October until now. I spent six weeks exploring the world of watercolor painting. It was such a wonderful experience. Below are some small paintings that I completed and continue to work on.

The above painting was created by dipping yarn in a small bowl of paint. Then I created a small swirl and pulled it away from the paper.

It was really neat to create some texture by laying down some paint. On top I scrunched some plastic wrap and weighted it down with a bowl of water. After awhile, I lifted the plastic wrap and got the above.

For this painting I put down two layers of color and then squirted alcohol on top. It was really neat to see what happened with the paint when in contact with alcohol.

Can you see it? See the squirrel?

I’m still working on the leaf painting. I’m not sure how it will turn out, but excited to see the layers of colors at the end. I’m telling myself to be patient. One thing I have learned about using watercolor is that patience is needed when layering and mixing colors. It’s okay to walk away and return. Seeing the layers of colors is something new for me and I’m glad that my eyes are more aware. Awareness of the colors, sights, lines, and textures that are around me have been such an inspiration. I didn’t think I would learn about awareness and colors from a watercolor class, but I did. I’m thankful for it.

What have you been inspired by lately?

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