I don’t know what it is exactly about sunsets that makes the heart swoon.  Walking into my office late this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of fire from the corner of my eye.  I moved to the window and the sky was drenched in large, graceful swaths of pink and orange.  I felt the familiar swelling in my chest and could not tear myself away for several minutes.

It is not just I who is fascinated by the astral show: when sunsets are particular spectacular, they make the evening news; people talk about it at work or over coffee the following day.  Everyone runs for their camera.  Even seagulls and pigeons stop their strutting at sunset, and sit quietly facing the blazing horizon.  Could it be that they also appreciate the perfection of nature’s artistry?

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For so many years, I tried to nurture my creativity by only indulging the creative aspect, and hoping that the rest of my “career” would just take care of itself.  Something in me just felt like a braggart whenever I tried talking about my work or projects in any sort of promotional way.  I’d cringe with embarrassment, inhibited, and nothing I ever did went anywhere.

Somehow, photography has proven to be different.  I see things differently, and feel differently about my work.  I know that I am on a major path, and not just another fun detour.  And this realization has made me see everything I do in a different light.

Though humans celebrate the turning of the calendar page as something tangible, in reality it is just like any other day.  The sun rises and sets as always,  galaxies swirl, plants wither or sprout.  In other words, nature does not “start over” on the first of every year.  And in the most basic ways, neither do we.  But our thoughts and intentions do.   We busy ourselves during the year by living our lives, and in the process lose track of goals we have set for ourselves, obstacles we wish to overcome, places we’d like to go, accomplishments we’d like to achieve.  And most of us don’t realize we’ve not accomplished most of these things until it’s the eve of the New Year.

Of course, in an ideal world we’d just continue to strive for those goals without having to remind ourselves of them every 12 months, replacing achieved goals with new ones in an ever-renewing process.  But in the real world, few of us are that organized and consistent, and the New Year is just as good a time as any for us to reorganize and restate our intentions for our own lives.

To this end, I’d like to wish everyone a fruitful and satisfying New Year.

I like to think of myself as a fairly open-minded person.  But human nature is such that once we make up our mind about something, it is almost impossible for us to change it.  Even with the most innocuous things, once we’ve seen something a certain way, we must make heroic efforts to “un-see” it in order to see something else.  This video is an example of that phenomenon – once you’ve accepted that there is another dancer, it is almost impossible to not see “him”.

Last year I had the great fortune of participating in a staged reading of The Clean House, an exceptional, poetic, modern comedy by Sarah Ruel.  In it, the main character says to my character “you’re like everyone’s soulmate”, referring to how it seems that she is a perfect partner for everyone.

That phrase resonated very deeply with me because when I Tango, that’s is what I feel I am.  Somehow, everything that makes me me dissolves into him, and I become an extension of his movements and feelings.  I transform us into US.  I am still me, but expanded.  And it is something that occurs naturally the instant I embrace my partner.   When, at the end of a tanda with someone I’ve not danced with before, he beams at me and says “it’s like you’re not  even there”, I know he means that I have become a part of him.  And this is very, very good.

Just when I think I have a pretty good idea of where I’m going, a detour sign appears on my road, and I am helpless to resist following it.  I am blessed that my adventures usually result in mind-expanding experiences.  Or lead me to realize that I am far more resourceful, resilient, and creative that I had imagined prior to the adventure.

This is from a model shoot I almost canceled due to rain.    I am thrilled to keep discovering magical worlds, both within me, and around me, just by listening to my inner voice.

Creativity sometimes seems to up dry.  It is a terrifying experience – one which makes us wonder whether we will ever be inspired again.  My photography muse, Brooke Shaden, just wrote about this very subject in her blog.  Although it can be a frightening and depressing place, coming face-to-face with our emptiness and dissatisfaction is also an opportunity for change, and thus, growth.   It is a chance to change our perspective and recommit, to make us question our motives and goals.

By taking the time to contemplate these questions, I recognize that my personal demon is simply not making the time to start my “project”.  I know what I want to do, and it does not require a lot of money or props.  Just the time to do it justice.

It’s true.   No matter how busy I am, I still need an occasional infusion of that squirmy, warm tickle caused by looking at cute things.  My long-time source for such fixes is Cute Overload, a realm with its own language – of which the title is an example.

Combine the cute with my love of cats and you get this:

God Bless The Qte.

“Many philosophers believe the hole is the essence and the dough is only there to indicate where the hole is placed.”

The quote refers to a bagel, but this works too.  Either way, couldn’t have said it better myself.

One of my favorite portraits is of “Lucky” Lloyd.  I had originally intended to enter it in an Underexposed challenge.  Unfortunately I happened to shoot it three hours BEFORE the challenge was announced.  It is frustrating but happens to everyone – to shoot the perfect picture for a challenge we have no way of knowing is about to be announced.  Fortunately, I entered the portrait in a contest over at Flickr.  And tied for third place!!!

Yaaay Lloyd!

I worked on this image for some time, wasn’t happy with it, put it aside, and dusted it off tonight to enter it in their next contest.  I hope you like it.

The Pet