7 Things you don't need to know about me

Yikes. I’ve been tagged twice for this meme. OK, so it terrifies me. I have colleagues like Patti Digh, Michele Martin, and Janet Clarey who regularly talk about personal stuff on their blogs. I watch them with awe, knowing they have many followers because of their willingness to share who they are. Numerous times in the last months as I have struggled with direction for my blog I have written “revelation” posts like they do— only to hit the delete button instead of publish. So in the spirit of getting over this fear, I am going to tell you WAY too much about me.

My cats rule my house.

This is my all time favorite cat, Shamille. I have a connection to this cat unlike any other I have ever had. She comes running when I am upset or in pain, yet she is a typical aloof cat otherwise.

She lives with two other cats. Darwin, who she adores, is my husband Mark’s cat. We got her Mini-me after Shamille started getting fat, as her personal trainer. The young peppy version of herself. She despised her. Now she tolerates her, but there is a bizarre obsessive thing that involves hissing and hitting. There has been no weight loss. Mini is now as Maxi as her namesake.

How do I know they rule? Might it have something to do with the myriad of cat houses that litter the whole house? The towers and tunnels and houses all over?

I am married to an engineer

When I turned 40 I began the phase I call my Suburban House Life. I married an engineer, instantly became a grandmother, and moved into a 70’s ranch house filled with electronic junk treasures. Soon after I bought a white station wagon (a Subaru, but still). Lets just say it was culture shock. Like a high tension wire shock.

I have opportunities every day to practice my cross cultural communication skills. The form versus function war rages (when function was there first, form loses). The recent US political season was particularly interesting. I have vowed to cancel every vote he ever casts. Some days I feel like I am living in a sitcom.

Yet, this relationship works for me. Gives me a stability and sense of safety in the world that I have never felt before. I am learning about unconditional love and practicing what I preach about acceptance and inclusion.

I love kangaroos

I love kangaroos. Have been fascinated with Australia since I was a kid. I still haven’t been there— but have a long standing fantasy to go there for several months.

This is a self-portrait of myself as a rat, living in the pouch of the roo on the left. Celebrating the creative/resourceful part of myself. But it felt vulnerable, so I made it a protector Roo. I see kangaroos as the ultimate safe haven. Warm snuggly pouches, big powerful feet and tails. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound— all those super hero characteristics.

I like LIVE kangaroos, or renditions of kangaroos. Twice in my life people heard I liked kangaroos, and gave me change purses made out of their fur. I tried very hard to appreciate the thought behind the gift.

There is a petting zoo at the Oregon State Fair that includes a Wallaby. Every time I visit it I completely well up with tears when I have to leave. I don’t know what it is about these creatures, but I have a core level connection to them. It’s probably good I don’t live in Australia, I’d probably spend all my time playing with roos. Or looking for them.

I live with chronic pain

I have pain on my left side from my brow to my hip. Searing nerve pain. 24/7. Never stops. Some days are better than others, but its been a constant companion for over 15 years. I’ve been to over 100 health professionals from western doctors to way far out healers. No one has ever been able to answer the question, why? Or provide the solution to make it stop.

Not easy. It certainly effects my day to day life and those close around me. At this point I forget to mention it to people. I have a whole series of different things I do to keep the pain level down to a level where I can function. I have learned there is no one thing that works. It is now just another part of my life.

I’m a photographer who takes terrible snapshots

Patti Digh does this thing where she holds the camera out and takes pictures of herself with people. I have actually seen her do this live, asked her what she does special. She laughed, and assured me it was nothing. Last August on her birthday, I  bought a pile of her new book, Life is a Verb for some of my closest friends. She was collecting images of people with her book, so I thought— hey I’ll do the holding the camera out thing. Yea, right.

This is just a few of the myriad of tries. I even gave up and decided I would use Shamille to represent me. Even she would not keep her eyes open.

The premise of the book is 37 days to wake up, be mindful, and live intentionally. I wanted to DO some of the things the book suggested. Yet, I couldn’t even get a picture. It took me about 75 days just to get the books to the people I cared about. Many of the heartfelt notes I planned to include with them fell by the wayside.

I guess the lesson for me was just because I am a photographer doesn’t mean I can take a snapshot. I can be inspired by Patti and many other friends and colleagues, but I need to find ways to walk in the world that are in alignment with me. Trying to be or do or put gifts out into the world that aren’t mine doesn’t work.

Another friend offered an insight recently. She said I confused her until she realized I was really an artist acting like a business person. No wonder it isn’t working.

Fear of eyebags has cost me hundreds of dollars

Lets just say aging is not kind. I remember a conversation I had with my dentist ten years ago. She was saying she was going to cover the grey in her hair as soon as it started. I was a redhead, always assumed my hair would be interesting. I swore it would never bother me to have grey. Until the moment my husband mentioned my hair was actually very close in color to his dirty dish water color. Looking in the mirror with him, he was right. Mud. How did that happen? Now I have the Suburban Striped Hair to go with my Suburban House Life. My dentist has gracefully gone grey around the edges.

Aging, pain, less sleep, genetics, hormones — all an ugly combination facilitating significant eye bags. I am a mark for cosmetic ladies in department stores. You know, the ones with the perfect skin and straight white teeth. They see me coming and almost break into a run. I have hardly worn any makeup my whole life. Yet, all they have to do to get my attention is to mention the evil dark circles– and there goes the cash. I have wasted hundreds of dollars in my forties on all sorts of “solutions”.

I’m hoping that as I move closer to my fifties I will realize that accepting the aging is significantly less difficult and way cheaper than fighting the losing battle with age.

I’m struggling with my  business

OK, I admit it. I don’t know how to make my business work. I have just enough skill to pull off the illusion, but I’m missing some core that might make it viable. Might it have to do with this theme throughout this post of struggling to be authentically who I am? Instead of trying to be something else? I don’t know.

What I do know is at the core I am an artist. What that looks like in the context of a Suburban House Life is still a mystery to me. How that can be effectively expressed in the world is still fuzzy. But I am looking, listening for clarity. Opening myself to new possibilities and opportunities.

Tagging you…

If you are reading this, do feel tagged. It’s an interesting quandary, recognizing how different this is for each person. To some, it’s just another silly internet thing. Yet, for others, it does raise the issue of transparency and blurring the lines between personal and private. I know you’ll all do what is right for yourself. I don’t really know yet, since I haven’t hit the publish button.

So I invite the following, should they care to participate:

Sean Harry Shari Ward, Gina Anzaldo, Kevin Jones, Robin Reagler, Maria Pfeifer and Bettina Hansel