Monday, May 31, 2010

Words of Wisdom at Bates College Graduation

Yesterday was Peter's graduation from Bates College. The day sparkled, a warm breeze blew and commencement began. We sparkled with pride and all was right with the world on this perfect day. I wanted to take it all in with my heart, mind , camera and as the speakers began I realized my pen would be a good idea as well. There were five speakers, all of whom were conferred honorary degrees. This post is on Lorenzo "Rennie" Harris who received a Doctor of Fine Arts for his groundbreaking work in hip hop dance. In five minutes (the time each of the five speakers had) he shared some of the most important things he had learned and some practical tips. I hope my scribbled notes do justice to his words.
He said
1) The moment is the only real thing.
2) Sieze the day.
3) You shape your reality each moment.
4) Being persistent and consistent will lead to success.
He then shared a useful and humorous story. When he was 27 he decided to write down all of his thoughts, conversations etc. and put them into one of three categories. The first was BS (no explanation needed) . The second was PM for potential money and the third was CM for confirmed money. After 2-3 months of writing everything down he saw the columns change and his vision clarify. This was the beginning of his career as a hip hop artist.
Other things he said were
5) Movement is the last manifestation of your reality. What you do is more important than what you say. Take action, define your reality.
6) Remember who you are as spirits on this planet and why you came here.... to understand love on many different levels.
The last and most important thing Lorenzo "Rennie" Harris said was
7) The only time you should ever look down on someone is when you are reaching down to pull them up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Question

This is an unedited writing from my writing class. The prompt was " A question. " This writing practice is based on "Writing down the Bones " by Natalie Goldberg. We wrote for 10 minutes.
There is more detail on this practice under older posts, maybe it was the darkness one but I'm not totally sure.
Questioning as a writing technique
questioning as a way to learn more
questioning ourselves
questioning to unlock the mysteries of the world
I question you
you question me
your love for me , my love for you
the world is full of questions
like a trunk, an old musty trunk
there are keys to unlock in every question we ask
there are histories to learn
worlds to imagine
hearts to break
or hearts to mend
the person who asks lots of questions
can be someone who is constantly learning
or someone who just loves the sound of their own voice
there are lazy questions
probing questions
innocent questions
surprising questions
perplexing questions
if we asked more questions
if we asked the right kinds of questions
would we be better people
smarter people
or just people who asked lots of questions
if we stopped questioning ourselves
our work
our intentions
wouldn't we be at the very least happier people
no one has all the answers
so maybe the key to life
lays in the questions we ask ourselves
how do I be more present
more kind
more productive
more me

Saturday, May 15, 2010

" Three Graces " on Mothers Day

On Mothers Day I woke to the sunlight dancing in my bedroom window and voices calling me, "Come out and photograph the magic morning light." I quickly dressed, leaving the house and everyone in it sleeping. What a giddy feeling of freedom and anticipation as I drove to Cowyard Landing in North Chatham. I am like a homing pigeon; I start out at Cowyard, walk to the fish pier, past the Chatham Bars Inn and head to the "big house". The "big house" , as I call it, was my grandparents compound. It consisted of a main house, two side cottages and a garage. My grandmother died when I was thirteen and we kept it in the family for almost twenty years. The house sits up high and looks out to the outer bar and the "Three Graces". In it's heyday it was featured as one of America's most stately homes and is archived in The Library of Congress. We all had a love affair with that house. The house sold twenty one years ago and I cannot shake loose my love for it and all the memories it holds. So, like a ghost, I always make my way there to look at the house and say hello.
On Mothers Day I decided not to walk to the "big house." I said to myself " No I am not going to go there today, I do not need to feel sad." I headed back to the fish pier where the scallop fisherman I had photographed earlier was getting ready to head out to his mooring. Earlier I had asked him if I could photograph him fixing his nets and he kindly obliged. For all the years I have photographed at the fish pier I have never been out with a fisherman. When Tom asked if I wanted to go out to his mooring I jumped on the kind invitation. As we headed out to the mooring, one of the furthest from the pier, I realized this boat was one I had photographed in the winter. The boat I was on was hanging over my fireplace in Concord. Here I was on it looking at the "big house" from the water. It is a spectacular boat, named after his three daughters. He said " I was graced three times so I named my boat " Three Graces." I love that!
He goes out on average 15 days a month with 3-4 other fisherman. We talked briefly about the fishing regulations and he told me how cumbersome all the tracking, filing and paper work is these days. There were two computers on board so he can report all his activity. He said, " For the older guys that have been at it for a long time it's tough, being so regulated, but I try to roll with it, you do what you have to do." The scallops seem to be in good supply and he is doing what he loves. I am excited about bartering photographs for scallops and learning more about the place I love most, the sea. Thank you Tom, for a great Mothers Day gift. I'll post the new photos as soon as I find a new lab to develop my film.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Recently I watched a segment on Ann Curry, the news anchor of NBC News Today. She was speaking about the importance of passion in our lives. So often when we think about passion it has a sexual connotation. This was not the passion of which she spoke. She talked about her personal passion, the passion that gives meaning and purpose to her life. That passion happened to be photography.
What a treat to hear her speak so intimately about something that has been so near and dear to her heart since she was in high school. As she shared her passion she held her camera close like a dear friend, speaking candidly about both the joy and pain photography brings to her life. She spoke of her last trip to Haiti; the unspeakable suffering and agony she witnessed. How does one reconcile the ethical issues of photographing such horror versus the awareness that single photograph might bring? These are issues photographers of the documentary nature face every day. Do I help this person or do I take their picture?
She showed other photos as well; her friend and colleague Al Roker in an intimate moment with his adoring young son. Those sweet moments that would be lost to all eyes were it not for her lens turned on that moment and freezing it in time for Al, his son and all those who see it and say " Wow, what a beautiful moment of being lost in love." It will never be that moment again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


When the kids were little I remember people always saying " Enjoy them while they're young, before you know it they'll be in college." Some days were endless; the toddler phase of danger lurking every where , be it something to choke on or falling from a high place they had climbed to while I turned my back. Then came the physical fighting phase of brothers two and a half years apart. Emerson Hospital flashed before my eyes on a daily basis or so it seemed. I was teaching full time throughout most of their childhood and it seemed someone was always sick. I knew certain people judged me harshly and that stung. Later came the verbal torment. Some days I was so stressed and tired it seemed they would never grow up, much less go to college. Those were the dark days, we all have them I told myself.
Then there were the delicious days and I would secretly wish they would never grow up, never leave our perfect nest. One night when I was lying in bed with Peter reading ( at that point he was reading to me ) he said " Mummy, if I don't want to go to college I don't have to, right? "
I said " No, you don't have to honey but I think you'll want to, college is amazing. " He replied
" Well, when I go to college can I live at home? " I said " Yes, of course you can."
Now the sweet snuggly little boy who worried so about leaving home is about to graduate from Bates College. Paul and I keep asking each other " Where did the time go? " It is both surreal and stunning!