Welcome to Moments Photography by Sandy's blog about photography and creativity. Always on the prowl for ways to keep learning, trying, inventing and shooting pictures. I will share my adventures, addictions, and antics below. Come visit often and share what you will. Live abundantly, giving, sharing and loving. . .
A beast of a beauty sounds like a judgment of a title. But what does it mean? These days beast means that the girl is strong. In this case, strong and attractive. Or would it imply that there is meanness packed into an image deemed pleasing to look upon? Either one might ring with some truth dependent upon the thoughts and actions of the person. We like to make comparisons and judgments. Our brains like patterns. Most everyone has some idea or opinion about what a female should or could act like and look like. This idea or belief system is learned. We can continue the passed down ideas or we find a different way to think about what we are being taught. I remember being taught to be modest and quiet. Both were not easy for me. I was taught to be giving. I was always good at being sweet and still have a tendency to be ruled by the heart giving others thoughtful attention. And yet, I was also taught that whatever I put my mind to, I could do. Dad always said, "IF you think you can't, you're right, you can't. IF you think you can, you're right, you can." You give it your all and you can call yourself a beast. It's not a matter of perfection. It's a matter of giving all of what you have, to the moment at hand. Being in the moment and giving of yourself is beautiful. Being in that place of trust where you can be vulnerable and show all that is you, is not for every moment nor every person. It is for those people who have earned the trust to see all of you. You are writing your own story. You aren't perfect. You aren't meant to be. But if you own your story of light and darkness, "you get to write the ending" (Daring Greatly, Brene Brown) It's what makes you who you are at a given moment in time. To use your mind AND your heart is what makes a balanced woman. The image says, "As one thinketh in his heart so is he." When you put it all together, the heart is the beast. Your heart speaks in feelings and knowings. The mind gives you words. Your thoughts become your actions and just as often, your actions become your thoughts. You make your choices. And your choices make you: beauty or beast, beauty and the beast, or beast of a beauty are some of the choices.
To soldier on means "to continue or persist, despite adversity or difficulty" by definition from Webster's Dictionary. And many men do this. We have this cultural expectation that at some point in a male's life the release of emotions is not thought of as "manly". Men must armor themselves with a facade so as not to appear weak or afraid. Feelings of sadness, worry, and grief, the "dark arts" are covered up. Like the rusty, chained suit of armor found attached to an abandoned building along the back roads, it remains unmovable. So like this "soldier" it rusts and remains unnoticed only to weigh down the individual all the more as it weathers over time.
Chained by the "unrelenting message: Do not be perceived as weak." (Daring Greatly by Brene Brown - this whole article comes from my interpretation and rewriting of her work on "How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.") We want to see our men as knights in shinning armor riding high on horses of noble lineage. Really? Do we really want our boys, teenagers, men, and or partners hiding away the feelings of their heart so we can live in a world romanticized in books and movies? Or do we want to share in the stories that dwell within the human like the living book that they each are?
To share these stores we all must dare to be seen. We dare to reveal the person within that has emotions. These emotions are ever changing. In order to be seen, we must dare to be vulnerable. This type of courage shows less fear than hiding behind the mask of "being a man about it". This sharing and "owning our story" is not granted to all who would listen, as the cultural norms still exist. This book within needs only to open with another who's trust has been earned while living life in the small moments, as trust is earned over time.
Some sights make me stop and just watch. On this particular day I saw this extremely large gathering of black birds. I can't say that they were crows but knowing that a group of crows is called a murder, I fancy that's what this is.
A murder of crows, a gaggle of geese. a congress of baboons all describe a group of animals. We human animals have a tendency to gather in groups. We are hard-wired for connections. And getting together is what we humans do. Sometimes these gatherings revel in a "Control Drama" of the Ego which reveals that many people are still living in the most primitive flight or fight syndrome. With birds it's easy to observe. In the human animal the responses have more names for "the fight". According to Deepak Chopra these names are intimidation, confrontation, argument, indifference, stubbornness, and manipulation ("How To Get What You Really, Really, Really, Really Want" by Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra). Carlos Castaneda says that there are only three types of people in this control drama life. The people are nice, nasty or indifferent. If you don't want to live this way, you have to pull yourself away from "the good opinion of others".
If you want to go beyond these types of responses, you need to understand that you can create a space between the stimulus and the response. I first learned about this with Stephen Covey in his book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". He called using this space "pro-active" and described it as choosing your response instead of responding instantly. Wayne Dyer calls this space "the witness". You look at the situation with the eyes of an observer. Deepak Chopra goes on to explain it as a way of looking without making labels, not judging it as good or bad, don't put any value on it or analyze it.
It's a practice that takes you away from the EGO (described as "Edging God Out" in the book "Lead Like Jesus"). Anything that isn't driven by the ego, is lead by the spirit. That makes this a spiritual practice that gets easier to do when you practice. Once you know there is another option, then you have to practice it to make it the default way of acting or reacting to any situation. Practicing Yoga or any physical activity where you are involved in the movement of your body and focusing on your breathing and activity will help your mind learn to slow down. Slowing or calming the mind is getting you to a place where you can observe, or witness what is going on, giving you the chance to really be in control of yourself.
Remind yourself: I choose ease. I choose peace. I choose joy. (Lesson from "Your Spacious Self" by Stephanie Bennett Vogt
Bob Dylan wrote, "...Yes, and how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind"
Blowin' in the wind, he says. Use that blowing wind, I say, because within the quiet of the mind, a voice guides. When thoughts come up, observe them as if it is a movie or cartoon. Don't judge them as good or bad. Don't decide if you should have them or not not. Look at them. Feel them in their entirety. And then you can let them go. Letting Go is like blowing in the wind. Once you are able to let go of these events that come up, more will come up to be released. Let them go, too. They need to go. They don't serve you anymore. Only what is in your best interest in your highest level of love and light can stay. (For more detailed information see the book of the same title: Letting Go by David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.d
Cornbread Dressing was a new food for me when I came to the South in the 1980's. My favorite meal of the year has always been Thanksgiving for the turkey, dressing, green beans, cranberry salad and pumpkin pie. The last two listed were made by my Grandma Jester and nobody makes it any better, unless they are using her recipe. The recipe and a fortitude to follow it makes all the difference in the world, come tasting time. So I asked my man how he makes cornbread dressing. All the dressing I had ever had with Thanksgiving faded away when I tasted cornbread dressing. First you'll need the recipe for cornbread in an earlier blog post:
Thankfully you won't be using all of the two pans of cornbread to make the dressing. There will be just enough for dinner the night you make the cornbread. You can actually make the cornbread the night before you make the cornbread dressing. So make two pans of cornbread then read on....
Ingredients: onion, celery, butter, cream of chicken/celery/or mushroom soup (only 1 can, choose), 1 egg, and 1 tsp. fresh sage (really, get some fresh sage for this cornbread). 2 pans of cornbread, 9"x13" pan
Saute the 2 stalks of celery cut into small pieces and cook in the pan with butter until they soften a bit. Then add in the diced onions and cook until the onions become transparent. Remove from the heat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl crumble up one and a half pans of cornbread (you get half of one pan for dinner. So be sure you have your vegetables on low simmer while you are making the cornbread dressing mixture). Add in the cream of soup of your choice, 1 egg (already beaten), 1 tsp. sage, a bit of salt and pepper. Mix it but not too much. It should be a liquid like texture.
Cook until brown, 30-45 min.
It's relatively simple to make. It tastes fancy. It's so delicious.