Friday, December 12, 2008

Flashback - Top of the Rock Field Trip

Recently, tucked safely within my Voigtlander, I came upon a roll of undeveloped film from an excursion I took with my parents to the top of Rockefeller Center back in September. I have been to the Top of Rock on a couple of occasions, and it never ceases to thrill me - it certainly provides the best view of the Empire State building from within the city - and something about the giant towering antennae hovering overhead and projecting television signals up to satellites that broadcast to millions, always makes me feel like I'm really at the heart of something.

I wanted to share a few of the shots I took this time around - trying to see the Top of the Rock from a slightly different perspective. There is something uniquely fun about developing a forgotten roll of film, and suddenly recalling what one was thinking about and experiencing at the time that one shot it.

I recommend this spot to all of my out of town guests. And, it's no joke - you really must try one of those binocular devices - you can see so many cool things all over the city for just 75 cents! (That's so cheap, they don't even put cent symbols on keyboards any more!)

Of course, you will have to pay to get up there first. But the rollar-coaster-like elevator ride is entirely worth it, in and of itself.

View a shot from my last trip to the Top of the Rock by following this link to my blog entry from last December.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Card Designs

This year, I decided to offer my clients original holiday card designs - in adherence with the trend of sending cute photos of one's kids for family and friends nationwide to post on refrigerators.

I created a couple of little graphics with the help of my friend Neil. Neil is beyond genius at design - check out his blog, The 25-Hour Day - so this was clearly a simple endeavor compared to most of what he does. I had "painted" the images with oil pastels and then scanned them. Neil helped me to make those into files shaped like the images - in other words, cut-out shapes with no background color. Then the images could be used like clip art.

I wanted the designs to be cute and festive, but fairly simple, so as to offer my clients an alternative to some of the cheesy and/or run-of-the-mill photo card options. I came up with these two designs, and posted them to a separate webpage, so that I could easily link to it here:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Non-Dominant Eye Experiments - Part 1

It was recently brought to my attention that we humans have a dominant eye - the eye our visual center defaults to, with the other creating our 3-dimensional sense around the first. This seems like common sense, if you've ever laid in bed staring at a pillow up close, closing one eye, and then the other. One eye gives a perspective that seems utterly disorienting from when you had both open - the other is just about what you expected.

You can test this for yourself by aligning your thumb with an object in the distance (both eyes open), and closing one eye and then the other. Your dominant eye will show the thumb aligned with the object. Your non-dominant eye will show the thumb quite removed from the object.

I happen to be fascinated, not only by the visual cortex, but also by the workings of the brain hemispheres. I am right-handed, and was often jealous of the off-kilter, creative thinking of my left-handed peers. (For novices on this subject, if you are right-handed, you are left-brain dominant - and logic oriented. If you are left-handed, you are right-brain dominant - and artistically oriented.) When I was in college, I tried writing left-handed for an entire semester to see if it would effect my thinking process, and open up some creativity in the writing I was doing at the time. It was nearly impossible to take legible lecture notes this way, which changed the way I was thinking, in and of itself.

So, when I heard this theory about having a dominant eye, I was intrigued! After performing the test, I discovered that I am right-eye dominant, as well as being right-handed. Of course, my college experiment sprung to mind immediately, and I wondered what would happen if I started taking pictures closing my right eye, and using my left to look through the viewfinder.

First of all, this was physically challenging. I had to really think about closing that right eye. I shot all of the photos in this post with my left eye, and I felt a different kind of mental presence in the exercise, although I am not sure they are altogether more creative than they would have been, had I shot them with my right. I wouldn't go as far as to say I could sense when my right brain hemisphere had been activated (although wouldn't that be cool if we could sense that?), but I did find myself very much in the moment, and absorbed in the process of capturing my surroundings in a way that felt fresh and new.

These were taken in the Catskills - in a small town called Medusa, New York.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fall Kids' Portraits - Part 3

One final set of kids' fall portraits!

This one was particularly fun because of the angle of the sun during the shoot. Once again, this little one found a twig - it had leaves and an encased nut attached, but it was a twig nonetheless.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves about how much fun this shoot was!

I am honored to have had the pleasure of serving my clients by photographing their beautiful children this fall - and want to thank them for allowing me to share the results with you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fall Kids' Portraits - Part 2

Prospect Park was simply beautiful this fall - full of color and light - and with some mild November days, it was the perfect setting for these portraits of an energetic little guy and his parents. (Click on any of the photos for a larger view, and hit back to return here.)

What I am learning from photographing kids ages two and under, is that they love sticks. What is it about sticks? They're fun to run with. They're fun to hold. They're fun to use to poke at things. Sometimes I wish I was so easily amused, and that all I needed was to find a stick and run gleefully through the trees...

Time and again, working with little ones reminds me of our light-hearted true nature. This child's smiling eyes were so endearing, and his nature so honest, that when I looked at him, I couldn't help but think, "Perhaps life is not so hard, after all." Often I wonder if kids like him - able to change an adult's attitude with merely a glance - have any sense of the joy they bring to the world. Does he even begin to fathom his tremendous inherent value?

I couldn't hurt for all of us to remember our role, as bringers of delight! I want these photos to remind me to smile more, and I hope they'll do the same for you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall Kids' Portraits - Part 1

The changing of the seasons in New York this fall has been absolutely bursting with color! I have had the pleasure of photographing lots of kids' portraits against this stunning backdrop, and I wanted to share some of the highlights (this is part 1 of a 3-part series of portraits).

This shoot took place on the far side (coming from Manhattan) of Prospect Park, where horses meander along the trail by the water on their way back to the nearby stable. It was a gloriously sunny day, and the 1-year-old subject was more than delighted to see a row of horseback-riders rambling by.

We sat in the shade and played in the leaves, and as 1-year-old's do, this one kept finding sticks and trying to eat them. (No amount of hearing the word "Yuck," could convince her otherwise.)

She was a delightful
subject and would sit and look right into the camera, or glowingly at her mother. Talk about merging work with pleasure! It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, and I found myself in total appreciation of the fact that my career consists of being willing to bask in the sun on a mild fall day, and play in the leaves with a 1-year-old. What an honor to get to spend an hour with this beautiful, little girl.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Autumnal Moments

This year in New York City, autumn has been gorgeous!

In years past, I noticed that the trees in NYC would stay green until Thanksgiving and then be suddenly bare. This year, fall slowly but surely turned leaves yellow then orange and red, at a pace slow enough to be relished and delighted in. Rainy days have alternated with sunny, and the temperature has fluctuated from cool to mild. All in all, a perfectly quintessential fall!

Not only was I able to take several of my clients to the park for their child's yearly portrait session on some of the more radiant afternoons of the season, I have also made time to capture the brilliance of the leaves on rainy days, too. While rain isn't any good for shooting portraits, the overcast sky makes for extraordinarily vivid colors, so I was finding myself enamored with the leaves as they changed colors and scattered themselves on the ground.

These are some images I snapped, inspired by the last burst of fiery life in these plants before they take their well-deserved winter respite, and a shot of a heart-shaped cloud break on a lovely fall morning, just after setting the clocks back for daylight savings.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Beginnings

Once in awhile, something big moves in your life. A partner comes or goes, a job does, or an opportunity...

And when that happens, it's like trigger, that suddenly makes you aware of all the things in your life you thought might be different by now. One thing stops time, and all of the little voices, that were heretofore in the background, resound in a chorus of demands on you to fix whatever is wrong - and there is a LOT to fix.

I thought about some big shifts that occurred in my life recently, bringing questions and feelings of doubt, along with an ungrounded feeling. Sometimes when something moves, and you had, in part, defined yourself by your relationship to it, it is possible to feel detached, as if you had somehow lost a part of yourself in the transition. Or, maybe you glimpse a part of yourself that is bigger and more powerful than you ever imagined - and that is, well, equally terrifying.

Coming from a place like this, as an optimist, I thought, "What can I say about this that would be of any use to people?" In other words, how can I find something inspiring to say about something that makes me (as it would anyone) uncomfortable and confused?

Well, you have to start with the truth. I may be an optimist, but I firmly believe that you cannot just smile and pretend things are okay. You have to be [sometimes brutally] honest with yourself. The only way to look at something optimistically, is to acknowledge what you are really feeling - what you REALLY make of your life. And then, you can access the parts of you that see it differently - that see it all as a magical endeavor for you to grow and learn with.

So, the truth is - something sucks. You feel lonely, disoriented, skeptical of the people you meet, and doubting that you will ever really know another person with good intentions. At the same time, something nags you inside to notice how glorious you are - begging you to step up to the plate. The more you don't, the worse you feel. What does this feel like? I'm not going to describe it for you - just feel what it feels like. I did this tonight after a long hot bath, and it brought tears. There weren't any thoughts, there was no blame. I just felt some obscure sense that there is hurt in the world, and that I (like anyone) touch a lot of lives with my presence, and that there is some significance in that.

And then, I realized that must be what my friend had felt when she thought she might lose her kitten. That must be what my brother feels like when someone lets him down. That must be what that client felt like, when they had a bad day and took it out on me. That must be what that waiter felt like. That must be what that sad man on the subway felt like. And on and on...

Just as soon as I had honestly acknowledged any pain, I felt the opposite - I felt utter compassion. In knowing what life really feels like, I can be a better friend, a better sister, a better vendor, a better customer, a better person to run into on the street. Because we learn compassion from acknowledging our fears, worries, faults and misunderstandings, those things have a strong and powerful purpose.

I won't pretend to really understand what troubles anyone else - the stories people have about their life are deeply personal and they are very attached to them, for better or worse. But I do think we feel the same pain, regardless of the story line. And there is something inspiring in that.

Certainly, artwork is often created in a form that inspires many different individuals to relate their own story lines to it in many different ways. Art is seldom universally liked, but great art does speak to a certain mass of people - those who like Tchaikovsky or David Lynch would not find themselves loners by any measure. So great work, in appealing to the masses, demonstrates that there are some things a great deal of us relate on. I would suggest that one of these things is our pain - that that could be the great work of Universal art that unites us all. If we could be open to the knowing that we are not alone in our suffering, maybe it would soften us. Maybe it would allow us to really connect.

Most of us have felt this when we could see someone we love suffering. But what about our own little sufferings? The little everyday voice that says, when? how? why? That wants to blame and label and categorize. What if we could have compassion for ourselves instead of allowing that little voice to berate us, and thereby realize that everyone we meet has a little voice, too.

In thinking about everyone else's little voices, I decided to post this blog. Previously, I had decided only to post things when I was already feeling totally optimistic. But today, I had a feeling that honestly conveying what seemed like a fairly common thing, might allow me to shift into feeling optimistic. In other words, putting myself out there for others to relate to seemed a greater gift than not sharing at all until I felt more perfectly suited to do so.

On that note, I guess today's lesson is: Do it anyway. Even if you don't feel like making art, do it anyway. Feelings you're afraid of showing might be more shared than you think. It is my hope that we'll find some truth with each other in this way. Wouldn't that just change the world?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ceramics Part V - Glazing and Glass

Excitedly, I used some glass from my 30th birthday ceremony in my latest ceramic glazing experiment. The piece I was glazing was one of the first pieces I threw on the wheel. Twice, it was going to be a bowl, until I pulled up too far and caused the top to fall off. What was left was a base (perfect for a candle holder), and a wavy, delicate rim, and the shape delighted me for some reason, so I decided to fire it.

Nadeige, the brilliant ceramicist and owner of Choplet, warned me that colors not in the the green/blue spectrum may not retain their color in the kiln because of the temperature. So I used a neutral "almond" glaze color, just in case the glass color developed a
mind of its own during firing.

But the pink glass pebbles I put in there not only kept their color, they also formed the most amazing crystal-like facets, almost like pink ice in the circular bottom of my piece. I was thrilled with how it turned out! It seemed to me like the kind of thing a fairy princess would have on her dresser. So, that's where I put it. Right near the painting on wood my two-year-old niece made. (Also in this photo, you can see two of the little glass pebbles exactly like the ones I used in the glazing process - to the right of the ceramic piece.)

Here are several views of the piece:

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Beginning of Fall - Tarrytown Field Trip

Last weekend, my mom came to town so she and I could attend a workshop together in Tarrytown. Afterwards, we were feeling very inspired, and I decided to take her to what has become one of my favorite places - Stone Barns. To get there, we drove through the legendary Sleepy Hollow, and down a beautiful, hilly road. My mom commented that it reminded her of where she grew up in West Virginia.

The sun was beginning to set in the early-October sky. The sheep were in the meadow, and rather shy. The pigs were in the woods, and had no qualms about hamming it up for the camera. Sunlight streaked across trees that were only just beginning to consider changing colors.

My mom and I strolled around, finding delight in so many things. I wanted to show her all the treasures of the farm. I took her into their 22,000 SF greenhouse (the largest greenhouse in the country existing for the purpose of providing fresh produce to the affiliated restaurant), and we wandered over hill and dale. It felt so good to have her there with me - to feel the amazing sense of nature all around us in the rolling hills, tall trees, and spunky animals. A mom is a very good person to share these things with, and my mom is just happens to be one of the best moms there is.

We strolled and walked and explored the grounds that are a tiny tip of what is the historic Rockefeller estate. To a New Yorker, a farm of rolling hills contains a sense of immenseness they cannot relate to the claustrophobic caverns they're using to barreling through. It is simply breathtaking. And unless you've lived in a big city for a long time, I doubt you really know what it's like to be under a giant open sky, smelling plants, hearing crickets, and taking in huge, deep breaths. The contrast makes it something else entirely.

My mom lives in the country, so I don't know that she knew what I was feeling. Still, I loved her companionship. I loved having those beautiful moments that we had set aside just to spend with each other.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I just want to take a moment to write about courage.

Firefighters have so much courage, that they run into flaming buildings to rescue the life otherwise trapped inside. While many of us don't face such literal life-and-death risks each day, we do constantly exercise courage.

Little kids who are learning to walk keep losing their balance, and falling over and over and over again. Imagine having no sense of how to control your limbs, and yet repeatedly trying to rise to your feet. (You did it, once. Don't forget.)

You go into work each day, knowing there are people who will contradict you, who seem - perhaps - not to have your best interests in mind. Yet, your career and your ability to earn a living are important to you. You go in anyway, not waiting for a sense of well-being, but rather increasing your own tolerance of the situation by exposing yourself to it, and finding your sense of well-being in the process.

Couples show up to their relationships each day, wondering if some wound will be exposed, if words will strike the other in away that stings or reminds of childhood scars. Yet, they keep re-committing to each other, with every laugh, with every kiss, with every touch - they know that the reward is not some perfect relationship at the end of the tunnel, but rather the glimpse right now of a connection to another soul despite one's fears.

I am often coming up with new and bigger projects for myself to complete, and when I do, I always think, "How am I ever going to sustain the courage to do this?" I have never been able to answer myself before something drives me forward, makes me do it anyway. Courage, I find, has nothing to do with overcoming one's fears in preparation for action - rather, it's being afraid and taking the action anyway.

Recently, I took a public speaking class at the Open Center, and the entire class revolved around this principle: that we were not going to get up there to speak and NOT feel nervous, but we would get up there feeling nervous and still be able to speak.

I think it's the things that we care about most that make us nervous. Maybe there are more things that we should just do anyway, in spite of our fears. Maybe we should speak our mind, especially when we think our voice will break. Maybe we are exactly like the firefighter, running into the world each day, desperate to bring a sense of hope by speaking our truth.

My truth is my faith in the human spirit. I know that every person is capable of amazing things, beyond their wildest dreams. I know this because I live it. With frequency, I ask myself to face my fears, and over and over, I find - to my own utter amazement - that I am capable of doing just that.

Monday, September 29, 2008

30th Birthday Sarah-mony

I recently turned 30, and I wanted the celebration to be a reflection of my life, as I saw it in the beginning as a small child, how it has evolved through the years, and how I am now stepping forward with all of this experience into my future.

For several years, I have worked with a shamanic practitioner and intuitive healer named Joe Monkman. I first met Joe after years of trying mainstream and alternative solutions to the discomforts I was left with physically and emotionally after a car accident. It is hard to explain, but Joe somehow allows me the capacity to look deep within myself and make large perspective shifts within myself - things I've seen people take years to do in therapy, sometimes in one single session! Joe has all kinds of training in various healing modalities, including shamanic traditions from Peru. When I first met Joe, he invited me to a ceremony he did for his 40th birthday, and that's where I got the idea. He is a natural leader, and hilarious, warm, and embracing, so I thought, "Who better to lead my birthday ceremony?"

My friend Jordan Rosenberg (screenwriter) in LA, caught wind of this, and said, "Are you marrying yourself, or something?" I said, "Something like that." He said, "You're having a SARAHmony!"

And the name stuck.

I had called Joe six or seven months before my birthday to ask him if he'd be willing to help me. He was, of course. Part of the preparation I did was to face my stagefright. I took a public speaking class this summer and everything! At the time when I first called Joe, I couldn't imagine myself get up in front of a room full of people (albeit people I love) and speaking.

But I did it. First my yoga teacher, Leigh Evans, led us all in a beautiful chant. Then I gave gifts (ceramics I made) to my parents, acknowledging them for their role in the beginning of my life's journey. Joe spoke a little bit, and I walked through a mandala I made on the floor (out of glass pebbles - a circle, divided into quadrants), representing the first three decades of my life, and stepping into the next. It was kind of a whirlwind for me! I was full of excitement, and tried to speak clearly, and tell the stories of my youth, my teens, and my twenties in ways that people would find amusing, and still convey the significance of that time period on my perception of the world. (People laughed and cried in all of the appropriate places, so it seemed to work!)

As, I stepped into the forth quadrant, I declared my wishes for the future: the production of my new book through a lucrative book deal, to inspire millions of people all over the world, and to be open to giving and receiving more love.

There is tremendous power in having made those declarations. I now have a mission, to live up to my own dreams, and a community of witnesses to uphold me to that.

And, I am sharing it here, to extend that community even further.

I would like to thank Joe for his amazing role in all of this - particularly for guiding me in terms of how to create the ceremony, and the importance of stating my wishes for the future. Joe has a very cool website
(featuring photos by me!) all about the way he inspires people to live their "Rich Vision," at

And I am now using the glass from the Sarah-mony as part of glazing experiments on my ceramics projects. You can put glass in the bottom of your piece and it will melt and do all kinds of interesting things in the kiln (examples to come soon!). I love that the energy from that special moment in my life will now be imbued into more creations, and so shared with the world in different ways.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ceramics, Part IV - My First Wheel-Throwings

I am very excited to have successfully thrown a couple of pots on the potter's wheel. This was not an easy feat for me!

The first step in the process is called "centering," during which you shape the clay into a cone, and then flatten it, and cone it and flatten it again, until it spins in the center of the wheel without showing any signs of wobble.

The trick is bracing your elbows against your body so that your hands put even pressure on the clay. You make yourself as solid as possible so that the clay moves in the way you are directing it - rather than having a wobbly mound of clay make you move and wobble, too! (I was pretty wobbly, at first, until the brilliant head of the Ceramic studio, Nadiege, came over and helped me adjust myself. Thanks, Nadiege!!! You're the best.)

This shot was taken in the beautiful backyard garden work-space at Choplet in Williamsburg. Those are my two wheel-spun pieces, sitting on bats, starting to dry. (Next step: shaping and trimming. Then: firing and glazing!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Someone Else's Ceramics

Briefly, I wanted to show off some of the amazing talent of my friend and client, Christina, whose wedding I photographed this year. Christina and I were introduced through a mutual friend, and then discovered that we both take classes at the same ceramic studio - Choplet.

Christina hand-made all of her own centerpieces for her wedding in ceramics. I was completely blown away by the concept of a "modern farm," that she managed to make both elegant and adorable. At the end of the night, she insisted that her guests take the pieces home to enjoy. She insisted I take one, as well! I was deeply honored by this gesture, and I
have Christina's bowl with the little sheep inside on a special table in my living room.

Plus, I was also lucky enough to get to photograph all of the pieces while I was at the wedding!

The technique she used to make these pieces is called hand-building. (This is as opposed to throwing pots on the wheel.) The bowls are essentially glorified pinch pots -
they were literally pinched into shape. And the animals were (most likely, although I didn't ask!) rolled out with a slab-roller and then cut out, kind of in the same way that you roll out cookie dough and cut out cookies.

I am amazed at Christina's meticulous care and attention to detail. She puts so much love into her ceramics work, and it really inspires me. Sometimes when I am having a hard time concentrating on my own projects, I think of her work - it appears so focused and effortless at the same time.

And her work is a reflection of her person - beautiful, gentle, distinct, elegant, and nuanced. I am so appreciative of getting to work with and befriend Christina. Thanks, C, for everything!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dali Exhibit - MoMA Field Trip

Recently, I went to the MoMA with my friend Arthur (a brilliant attorney from Cleveland), and had the chance to check out the films and paintings of Salvador Dali on exhibition there. Dali is an intriguing artist because of his commitment to the dream state - his work is uncensored in sexuality, in a certain grotesque-ness, and, frankly, by the norms of waking-state logic.

"Surrealist," is the term that defines his work, and of which his work is the most famous example. His paintings are often bright and colorful, or with bright and colorful elements against a darker backdrop, and three-dimensional space is delineated absurdly distinctly - almost like a cartoon. As a filmmaker, he created pieces with a very strange mood - and wherein the sequence of events was much more akin to the logic of a dream than of any narrative, plot-based film that would qualify as mainstream entertainment.

One of the films depicts a man trying to seduce an unwilling woman, and cuts abruptly from that seduction to a shot of the man dragging a piano across the room, and then to a shot of animal carcasses. (Carcasses and ants are two favored Dali symbols.) On the surface, this just sounds frivolous, or even sensationalist. But nothing about the film suggests that it is trying to get a rise out of the audience - rather, it seems to imply that there is normalcy in even the strangest things, and that human behavior and thinking in its most normal sense is, in fact, absurd. It seems to me that the great discomfort in watching parts of Dali's film comes not from the fact that they are unpleasant, but that it makes one realize that people are not perfect and that one's own thoughts have at times wandered into the sublime and grotesque. In other words, Dali's work invites the viewer to see in oneself what one finds repulsive.

Dali also created giant paintings to serve as backdrops in collaboration with the filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock for his classic film, Spellbound. Painting and film were obviously very intertwined for Dali, and I relate to that a lot as a photographer trained in the medium of moving images. You can explore certain relations between shapes and symbols in a 2-dimensional picture, and then it's something else entirely to take the picture of that moment, and explore it in the continuum of time and space. Both of them were interesting to him, and to me, for the different ways they allow a thought to be explored - singularly as a moment, and as an inseparable part of a greater, broader context.

My favorite part of the exhibit, by far, was a lost collaboration between Dali and Walt Disney, circa 1946. "Destino," was to be a feature animated film, made by animating Dali's images - including several of his most famous paintings. For reasons that aren't totally clear, the project was abandoned, but several minutes of completed footage exists, and it was edited into a short film. It is a strange lyrical story without words, that shows a woman and a man who shapeshift and look for each other in their various forms as they move through a very dream-like world. The combination of Dali images with Disney animation came out, in my opinion, bearing remarkable resemblence to the Japanese animae cartoons I was first introduced to by my brother in the early 1990s. "Destino," looked to me to be way ahead of its time.

Seeing Dali's work in all of its forms, made me see the value of a true vision, and the way one's aesthetic inevitably permeates whatever medium it is one works through. It inspired me to trust my dreams, as odd and dark as they may seem, and to understand that true brilliance doesn't always need to appear logical on the surface. In fact, sometimes connecting the "wrong" dots is exactly what leads to seeing a newer, more interesting picture.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Jersey Shore - Summer Vacation

One more trip to the beach...

Something about the end of August that makes it feel important to get to the seashore, at least one more time before the fall begins. These are some shots I took along the Jersey Shore in a town called Ocean Grove. It is historically a very Christian settlement, and along the Great Hall where many Christians still gather for services, there are rows of little tent houses, where people relax for the summer near the sea. Most of the town is full of beautiful Victorian-style houses, and many of them are now bed and breakfasts.

Ocean Grove also has an amazing boardwalk - it was awesome to walk along it at night and gaze at the moon, and the lights from other towns along the shore. To the north, there is another little town called Asbury Park, where there are remnants of an old casino building, and a carousel turned theatre house.

However, the real reason for this trip was that this August, I really, really, really wanted to swim in the ocean.

It felt wonderful to get up (after lying all afternoon under the blazing sun), step in, and feel the cool, strong ocean waves splashing over my body. The sea is immensely soothing place. I felt so refreshed from swimming in the ocean, and utterly peaceful as my body sensed the ease of the balance of the elements - the fiery heat of the sun, the fresh, moving air, the firmness of the sandy earth beneath me, and the fluid, shifting, refreshing water. Centered-ness seems the natural byproduct of connecting with all of the elements in this way. So, perhaps it is more than laziness and ease that we're seeking when we head to the seashore! Maybe we feel pulled to it for balance.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Urban Gardens, Part 1 - Fire Escape Garden

This summer, I rented a car several times for various excursions, for business and pleasure. I visited the Berkshires twice, went all the way to northern Ohio, and drove across Long Island to Shelter Island. Each time I drove somewhere, I would inevitably come upon a garden center or farm selling flowering plants, and I would stop and select a new plant friend to take home.

In the Berkshires, there was this huge, amazing garden center and greenhouse. I got two different little flowery plants there - each with different size buds in different shades of purple. In Ohio, I stopped at a local garden store close to my parents house and found a hu
ge petunia plant, in yet another shade of purple. Driving back from Shelter Island, I found this amazing farm where they sold all kinds of organic produce, and there I bought a pot of sunflowers, ready to bloom.

Over the summer, I added all of these friends t
o my fire escape, where I had decided to keep a few other plants I had accumulated in Brooklyn. It began to look like a country summer's day outside my city window! They say that living things vibrate at a different rate from non-living, and that, on some level, we are able to consciously perceive this. I will say, that whenever I look out at all of the beautiful flowers and leaves reaching towards the sky from outside my window, I am brightened, energized. There is perfection in nature. And it's perfectly effortless.

It's this perfect, natural, effortless energy that I get to see each time I pass by my living room window - and I have found it incredibly inspiring! It makes me more attune to the weather (when it rains, the plants don't need as much water, and on hot days, they need extra), and has me thinking about the change of seasons (most of the plants only last one year!). In just a glance, I am reminded of nature's cycles, long and short,
and how we are always growing and changing - in different ways, at different paces - constantly, and without effort. (Or sometimes WITH effort - but my plants remind me that it isn't necessary to strain.)

I love my little fire escape garden.