All storms start with a little trickle, and most of us try to run through it to avoid it or seek shelter. But the closer you get to the center of it all, the more turbulent the winds and waters are. And we all head to the center at some point. So, you have a choice. You can either fight the winds, cover yourself with your hands and arms because you didn’t come prepared - you didn’t know it would be like this or feel like this and so you fight it and end up sopping wet and completely miserable by your circumstances... Or you can accept that you will not come out of this unscathed. You can accept that nothing really prepared you for this. You accept that you will not be left the same. And so you learn to embrace the rain, allowing yourself to be drenched in your new found scene taking in the gut wrenching terror with the beauty of the flow, the ruined mascara with the all encompassing presence, and the discomfort with the majesty. You can either fight the glory or dance in it. Your choice.
Seasons and time stretch on in waves. Sometimes it feels like you're crushing it and people celebrate you often. Whereas other spaces of time feels like you are slogging through quicksand. We've all been in both. The trap is waiting for the next thing: "When I get this promotion, then I'll..." "If only I had this thing," "Once I reach this age..." Phrases like these happen too often in our inner dialogue and rob us of joy. Let's commit to being present. Let's commit to being "here" instead of wanting to be "there," because all "there" is is "here" with more wrinkles on our faces.
What you carry carries weight – in soul and in body.
What story you tell says more about you than the circumstances displayed.
What direction you face determines your focus and destination.
So travel light, because you were made to run, not stay stagnant and weighed down in it all.
Speak life because you have more power than you realize, even in your expression of experience.
And look to the richness in all things, because depth is not determined by time but openness. And when you call out depth, people will surprise you. You always find something more from them and for you. #forfleetingmoments
Pursue big things - the type of things that scares you to fail at. I have found it is in the journeys that we learn the most about ourselves. You deserve to be all in, to commit to something with every fiber of your being. That type of thing will take everything you have and grow your capacity. It will be hard. It will cause both pain and joy. Yet, it will be worth it. And if you do fail, well, we have tomorrow and you can sleep soundly knowing you gave it your all today.
On an absolute tear through Europe this summer. This past weekend was as close to a perfect way to wrap up as I could have imagined. And this summer wouldn't have been possible without all the incredible people I've met. Hoping for many more laughs and deep conversations to come, whether during a long hike or over a lazy picnic on the river. But always outside and always with 🍺 or 🍷 (or 🍾).
Pay attention to the things that matter. To the kindness of friends. The love you receive. The hope you give. To lead you need to recognize where to help the growth of others. How are you growing? How are you helping others grow?
Give me grace to love the movement.
Give me peace to calm my storm.
Give me joy to greet the evening.
And give me love for those that mourn.
Give me harmony in valley and stillness in the wind.
Give me songs of your presence, as my heart so longs to sing. #forfleetingmoments
"There is only one way to learn," the alchemist answered. "It's through action." This summer said yes to joining a trip that taught me so much. I got to walk with my friend Erin and 9 others around Greece for a couple weeks. I learned about comfort zones, photography, trip guiding and adventure. I leaned into quality and consistency. I keep getting better at my craft. And I got to acknowledge I have so much more to learn and grow in, but walked away with something to aim at. Here's to not knowing what's ahead, but running there anyway.
There's a difference between finding something inspiring and mimicking.
It's subtle and slow because so often we can look at someone or something and think "I want to be just like that" or "I want to make it just like that". And in some industries it is necessary to mimic - doctors, engineers, accountants - processes that have been proven. The greatest form of flattery is replication, but when speaking of the arts, mimicking can do three things to an artist.
1) It can empower the new artist to push their bounds and become more adversed in their craft.
2) It can enable the artist to capitalize on their craft becoming a part of a overarching brand.
But 3)... the new artist can loose their voice and sound like the original.
If the artist pursues the art of an another, there will be no revelation in their own craft. There will be no distinct sound or storytelling from the image. You will lack your voice. Don't use a dead poets words to describe the beauty of your world - you have been given your own.
Honest moment here - I've been struggling with my voice in photography. Not because I don't think I have a distinct one. I do know what I mean to say through these images (--- still growing in this) but I just don't see others saying it the same way. And in turn - I feel a little isolated in this expression. But I don't want to turn my vantage point to mimic that of another artist. I don't want to loose my voice.
I want to push the bounds but not so far outside the realm given to me. I don't want to remove myself from the authority I've been given, just because I want to be compared to another.
And maybe that's ok. Maybe that's the end goal anyway. I know I don't see these moments like anyone else and I have to realize that gift more and more. I will choose to admire and take inspiration from these artist, but my goal is not to be them or speak like them. And despite the isolation - I want to stand alone in it and I want to stand proud of it.
Spare the mimicking. Seek inspiration.
"Child of Mine, come
as you grow in youth
you will learn
the secret places
the cave behind the waterfall
the arms of the oak
that hold you high
the stars so near
on a desert ledge
...the important places.
And, as with age, you choose
your own way
among the many faces
of a busy world
may you always remember
the path that leads back.
...back to the important places.
Dad to Forest, 1986"
As read in The Important Places by @forestwoodward
Days like today require me to remember this place.
Days like today make me forget what comfort means and how much I have.
Days like today push me to assess "what really is an inconvenience". Days like today are perspective.
So I'll shift my focus to this moment - in the back of a pickup going 40mph down the back roads of #nicaragua .
Big open skies.
Tall canopies of the jungle.
Overarching broad revelations and specific heart changing realizations.
If you, like me, were among the millions who looked up and around ourselves yesterday we were a part of something special. Yes, we saw the earth briefly fall in the shadow of the moon and fill the air with that magnificent other worldly glow, but something else was happening. For those moments we were all unified. Eyes up. Tears of joy. No thought of hate or bigotry. What a striking contrast to what happened last week in Virginia. We can love. We don't have to wait until the next eclipse to forget racism - we can lay it down today and everyday hereafter. It was so good to see people raise their voices in excitement and awe instead of anger and hate. It's how we were Made to be. #eclipsetotality#totalityawesome#totaleclipseoftheheart#canonfanphoto Canon 5d Mark III 24-70mm 8L II USM: 24mm f3.5 ISO 6400 1/125ss
Serious throwback from 2 years ago. But this does make their story any less of a miracle.
This is Bex and Jesse - some of the nearest and dearest friends I possess. Three years ago, Jesse at the age of 21, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma after only 6 months into their blissful marriage. At a stage in life where marriage should consist of take out, Redbox movies, deciding which side of the bed to sleep on, and the gettings to know one another, Bex and Jesse were thrust into a world of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and medical bills. But through all of that, they not only fought, survived and beat the cancer, they viewed this entire journey as a gift from God. As cliche as that is, they truly do believe it and act like as though they were given a second chance at life.
Two years ago I was able to spend some time with them in Knoxville and see how much they both have changed because of this season. And what I saw was beautiful. It still chokes me up to know what they went through and how they came out stronger on the other side.
We got some joy up in this house! @marissabriannehughes blessed her mom with a sweet photoshoot - just the two of them. If you met this mother, you would know immediately how she loves all her children and grandchildren with fervor. But what you wouldn't realize is how faithful in prayer she has been for her children. It was just a blessing to be with these lovely ladies today ;)
Would love your thoughts on Steinbeck talking about manhood: "a kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of lifespan. In effect, the head of the house becomes the youngest child. And I have searched myself for this possibility with a kind of horror. For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slob for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage. My wife married man: I saw no reason why she would inherit a baby. And in my own life I am not willing to trade quality for quantity." Picture by @erinoutdoors
[August 31 sign up deadline] Social impact and adventure in Nicaragua with @wejourney and @yestheory partnering with @techo_org building homes. Half a week working alongside local Nicaraguans in Granada and half a week integrating through adventure and mindfulness in Jiquililllo. End the summer with a Journey. September 15-20, 2017 #travelwithpurpose
While I was reading a Monday email I began to think about ownership and how the most natural way to experience ownership is through creating. Building something gives you ownership over it. When I make something I want to take care of it, whether it's the table I eat on, my friendships, or my faith, these are things we build. We grow and cultivate what is ours and understand there are seasons for it all. This particular quote resonated as I was reading, "There's a beauty in ownership. Even if you feel like the only thing you own is a hot mess of confusion and battle scars, that's okay," because life has been a wild ride. I don't know about you, but for me I like that we get to grow amongst the turbulence. So may I encourage you to lay claim to the journey, put in the hard work, be okay with asking for help, and in the end hold it all loosely. (This is Elena - she is so consistent with who she is, working off the most solid Foundation there is)
The thing is ... I'm happy for the mundane and the repetitive sometimes. It's perspective and consistent. It makes the big things shine brighter - leaving a mark or an Ebenezer, if you will.
But right now, I'll stay in the faithfully mundane, the consistency of friendship and the standard I set for myself. And I'll be grateful for it.
I'll go with the flow at the moment, but don't you worry - I see waves coming. 😉 #communityovercompetition
You have to stay active in your craft. You need to exercise your abilities and push your bounds regularly. The moment you stay complacent is the moment recession hits your development. And when you don't seize those opportunities (or make them), you may miss out new passions and ideas that await you on the other side.
Yesterday, I asked @karinadegracia_ #karinaballerina to do a spontaneous shoot with me. Nothing crazy, just 45 mins behind the lens pushing myself in posing and posture and movement. Added bonus, it's always fun to create with friends and it was such a a sweet time with this girl. 😊
So ... treat your craft with kindness and #neverstopexploring .
This is my friend Erin, well the back of her head. She is a woman of courage. She leads through vulnerability and empathy. She encourages and empowers. She cares for people's stories and is great with working with women finding their voice. She also just moved to LA and that was brave. So give her a follow and encourage her for a change. Because life is messy and we all need people in our corner.
This tree grew among the rocks next to the cold spring. It's beautiful and small and I wonder how it got there. Some things make sense, some don't. This tree reaches through the rocks to the sweet spring below. It reaches out to its life source where it stands. Where do you reach out to? What brings you life? I hope it is sustainable. I hope it brings joy.
Have you ever been to a place that stops you because it feels different; brings you to a state of awe or reverence? Good, me too. The world is designed that way. And we are designed to notice. Calls attention to the Maker. It takes practice, especially when we are going about our day to day, but if you practice that present mindset you will see the world come to life before you. My reaction is usually laughter. I have a friend who it's smiling tears. I have another friend who loves and always finds feathers. She would give them away like candy with joy in her heart. What is it that cause you to pause and notice? What slows you down and reminds you of the big world and the big plan all around you? I'd love to hear.
Have you gotten your Sunday steps in today? This was a 10K hike for the ages. To get to the breathtaking vista of the Vikos Gorge, from the slopes of the gorge, we had to take a cobble stone path built in the 16th century. The stone trail is 1.5km with an elevation gain of 250m. It has 39 turns and nearly 1200 steps. Then imagine having a delicious Balkan dinner complete with healthy servings of beer and raki in Zagori's highest village (1350m) before having to descend those steps to get back to the car with the only light coming from a half moon and our headlamps. Some of my most favorite experiences (like this one) were ones I had to search out. Kudos to those who are brave enough to take that leap.
A writer I love to read is @hannahbrencher (you should too) - I bought a poster that from her that reads, "keep me humble, keep me thankful, keep me small." And I need that reminder. My pride drives a lot of my decision making, it's wild, but when I'm quiet and listen I can temper my pride to be a better human. So to know me more: I come alive around other people, it's the extrovert in me. That said, I am more quiet than a lot of extroverts. I like to listen. I notice a lot and am extremely observant. My hope is to learn from others and encourage them to be the best version of themselves. I'm not always the best at this. But we grow. More to come though, am I right? Photo from last month in Ireland by @erinoutdoors
Flying to Chicago tomorrow to pick up my van with my pup. Right now I'm buying a pet carrier for the plane. I think Finn is going to hate being stuck in that thing for a couple hours. Then epic road trip! Anyway, this is clearly not Petco - but it is beautiful. And it is Greece. And I like that place.
I want to wear a couple layers of flannel again. Lace up boots and fuzzy socks. Get a fire going and have the smell of apple cider and thyme in the air.
Give me sweet crisp mornings and the heat from black coffee in a homemade ceramic mug.
Give me the crunch of brown and red leaves beneath my feet, mixed with the scent of possible snow.
Give me the need to pull my oversized sweater over my knuckles and being held from behind.
Give me warm light through the tree branches above and a clear sight of the trail ahead.
Give me fall. Give me autumn, because I miss her so. #tbt
Happy Wednesday. Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious. I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap. Image by @erinoutdoors , space brought by her and @tripinadventures and nine friends who started strangers. Have a family meal this week and know one another more.
My first full day in Barcelona (and in Spain, finally!) today took me to Park Güell, Vila de Gràcia, Sagrada Família, and the Arc de Triomf. But the best part of the day goes to our tour of the Palau de la Música Catalana. Here is a peek out the terrace with columns covered in colorful mosaics popular during Catalan modernisme.
The sun sets on seasons of life just like it does every day. With that comes new beginnings and new sunrises. This week I bought a 1992 Volkswagen Syncro - its got a sweet little Diesel engine with 4 wheel drive, and we are about to have a blast together. Also, it will be my home for a little bit, so that's big (well...small) and scary. So here's to new horizons, sunrises and sunsets, getting lost, and finding yourself along the way.
This is a moment. "Your art will always reflect the beauty and the brokenness inside you and a commitment to contemplation leads you to a place where you can release both in lovely and healthy ways." [Blaine Hogan, from UNTITLED: thoughts on the creative process] I am so thankful to capture these moments.
Took this set of photos for an artist [ @mledeahl ] who just released a break up song, it's fun and deep and worth a listen. Healthy relationships come with work. I've been on both sides, bad guy and good, even recently, because you know - we're all human. So as encouragement: never let anyone make you feel small. There are plenty of people out there that want to build you up. Good and kind people. Remember you are worth loving. Remember there is goodness in connection. You are vibrant, intelligent, and strong. It's true.
"We've always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we've just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we've barely begun. And our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us." [Matthew McConaughey, Interstellar] •Let's begin• 📷: @erinoutdoors edit: me.
I've dealt with small amounts of anxiety in the past, just normal life things, come with a moment and leave the next. This year has been one of the most expanding and gratifying years of my life, but it's also come with a ton of uncertainty. To be honest - the last three years have been. And I have had to be on guard against true anxiety. Mental health is something not often talked about in our culture and I think it's important to change that and to engage. I would offer this as advice: talk to people you trust because fear dies in the light, begin with simple things like eating well and exercising, and seek to help others - our own worries and fears shrink when we practice serving. #mentalhealth
"The best thing I can offer to this world is not my force or energy, but a well tended spirit, a wise and brave soul." - Shauna Niequist.
A reminder for myself and for you. Happy Sunday and peace to you.
I have a friend who knows about simple honor. When I hiked this mountain one of the girls lost her phone - she knew she had it at our last stop before we pushed on to the top. Before anyone could say anything else one of the guys in our group said, "oh, I'll go find it." And he began to jog down the mountain. Needless to say the girl was speechless. She didn't expect that reaction, but our buddy wanted to honor her. He came back up the mountain 20 minutes later with her phone in hand. He was the hero and he was humble about it. If we lived in a world where we constantly outdid one another in honor, how would it look? I expect there would be deeper friendships, healthier relationships, and greater joy because we put others in front of ourselves. How will you plan to honor others this week?
On Day 14, after thinking I couldn't possibly handle more majesty, I feasted my eyes on the precipitously built Orthodox monastaries standing on monolithic pillars that I've always wanted to see since I first heard of them 3 years ago.
If you're on the fence about seeing something on your bucket list, I would normally tell you to "Go now. Don't wait. Seize the day." etc. But, I'm so glad I waited to go with the right people and to not rush it. Places like this don't deserve to be rushed through. So, talk yourself into the trip (and not out of it). But do it thoughtfully. And you'll thank yourself for taking that leap every time you're feeling stuck. 📷: @erinoutdoors
"I have been afraid of change. Even change for the better. It's fear that keeps us from living the better story."
- Donald Miller
With trust, I'll be taken to places that are healthier, more challenging, and more fun than I've ever been.
A number of people in my small orbit have passed on recently (unexpectedly in one case), which has me reeling still a bit. But because they were all some of the good ones in this world, I'm assured that wherever they are, they're in their version of paradise. And, I was so fortunate to discover my paradise about this time 3 weeks ago. Knowing that people you admire who have left this land for their paradise is just a beautiful sentiment.
As I look back on the 48 hours I spent in Finland this past weekend, this photo shows me relatively calm in a mostly bland setting. That's because it truly reminded me of my homes in Vermont and rural Maryland where bland is actually quaint and peaceful - which I love. The 3 hour drive from Helsinki to the west coast took my dear friend and I along long and mostly empty country roads with flower-filled meadows, forests of beautiful pine trees, and red barns. We stopped into the woods near the Gulf of Bothnia, walking down 2km of wood planks cutting through thick forest and tall grass to this lookout tower where people can wait for exotic birds to land in the cove beyond the almost 2m tall grass. On this day, we had the whole forest to ourselves.
Then we decided to go off-trail into said grass to try and get some cool photos when disaster struck. We were swarmed by the absolute hungriest mosquitos that chased us out of the grass and all the way back down the path to our car. We didn't know whether to be upset or to laugh it off. If nothing else, it was the excuse we needed to head to the nearby public beach to chill out and not panic over our bug bites (I counted at least 20 on me 😅). We scarfed down some smoked salmon sandwiches that she whipped up with food she took from the sanatorium that I booked us in that Booking.com lists as lodging even if you're not infirm...(needless to say, we were by far the youngest guests at the nicest YMCA-esque place Finland has to offer.) And oh did I mention this photo was taken at 7:00pm and the sun was still super high (because it doesn't completely set here in the summer)? What a cool place. This whole summer has been like a dream that I haven't snapped out of yet.