I’m in the process of editing all of my photos from my trip to Sarajevo and Budapest. As I sort through them, the editing process reminds me of what matters. What’s the focal point? What’s truly necessary to have in the frame? What am I saying or showing with each image? It’s similar to the editing of life: what do we keep, what do we cut away, and what does it all mean to us? Editing anything is time-consuming, and it’s absolutely worth the effort because what we’re left with is something of real value.
Month: November 2015
This just in: Travel makes me grateful
Travels helps me count my blessings. After a full night of sleep, I woke up this morning feeling so grateful. Grateful for the chance to travel and learn about different cultures, and grateful to live in the U.S. and call it home. Sarajevo is a sad city, plagued by geographic isolation, the legacy of the war and communism, poor health of the people (70% of them smoke), and a true lack of opportunity. Budapest is bustling, thriving, and full of life. The two are in such stark contrast to one another and couldn’t have been more different.
And then I landed at Washington National airport, and my eyes opened up even wider. We are so lucky here. We have everything we need to build a good life for ourselves. Certainly our country has problems and challenges and its own wounds that need tending and healing. What we do have is possibility and potential. And while potential alone can’t get things done, it does provide the fuel we can use to build something beautiful and meaningful.
Travel is a gift that keeps on giving. It gives us empathy and understanding for cultures not our own, and then it also helps us appreciate what we have at home in our everyday lives. It’s a realization I hope I never lose.
This just in: Now it’s time to let go and dream
It’s been several years since I’ve given myself the luxury of a true break. While I’m traveling, I won’t have access to much technology beyond my camera. Most of my daily writing will be with good ol’ pen and paper. I plan to listen more than I talk and to explore more than I seek. There is a time for expanding our views and a time for focus. For me, this coming week is a time for expansion, for thinking about possibilities without any regard for barriers, hurdles, and limitations. This is a time for letting go and dreaming.
This just in: Don’t let innovation be the enemy of improvement
In the push for wild ideas that get public attention, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. What companies and products need to focus on is improvement, not innovation.
The iPod was a better looking mp3 player that could be personalized. Virgin America didn’t do anything beyond providing stellar service to customers who were used to an industry that treated them badly. Starbucks decided to serve strong coffee prepared to order and gave customers a comfy chair in its cafes to enjoy it. Those aren’t mind-blowing ideas. They’re elegant improvements in industries that badly needed any improvement at all.
So don’t chase far out innovations. Most of that is just a flash in the pan that gets a lot of buzz for a short period of time and then dies a quick and meaningless death. What you want is a steady hum of improvement that inches up a step at a time. And those steps will add up not only to a staircase of innovation, but a meaningful long-lasting impact that makes the world a better place.
This just in: Play the long game
I recently watched someone navigate a difficult situation with such grace and aplomb that I barely knew she was navigating at all. To be honest, I was irritated with her. She was allowing herself to be treated badly, piping up only occasionally when things really got out of hand. I didn’t get it. From my vantage point, she had cards to play and she just wouldn’t do it. And then something very interesting happening; she got exactly what she wanted. She had been maneuvering the entire time, behind-the-scenes and out of sight of anyone else. She played the long game, concerned more with winning the war and not the individual battles. She also knew well enough to let her opponents be their own demise. All she needed was patience.
Even now, I’m not sure how she did it. I don’t understand how she stayed quiet for so long. I don’t understand how she had such an unshakeable amount of faith in the process and karma. The funny thing is that if it had taken any longer, she would have continued to wait it out. She was in it for the long haul, as long as it took to let the path clear so that she could proceed.
I learned a lot by observing this situation from a distance. And I’ll admit that more than once I very directly questioned her decisions and motives. But looking back, I see now that she had been right to let the situation resolve itself. Yes, I certainly wish this outcome had arrived sooner, and I know that forcing an outcome often results in a disaster. Sometimes the waiting game is our only option. It’s not an option that’s comfortable, though many times it’s the best options we have if we want to change things over the long run.
I’m not sure that I would have pursued this exact path. I probably would have pushed for a swifter resolution. But now that this situation has unfolded as it has, I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. Sometimes, the best things do come to those who wait.
This just in: What the Broadway show Hamilton teaches me about dreams
“This show has put my dreams to shame.” ~Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer of and lead actor in the Broadway show Hamilton, when interviewed by Charlie Rose
More than anything, we should take the success of Hamilton as a personal inspiration for our own dreams. Make them bigger, wilder, and even more outrageous. Imagine yourself without limits and blockers. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail. How far would you go? How high would you reach? Who would you aspire to be and what would you aspire to do? Do it. Be that person. You never know what might happen until you take the biggest shot you can take. So take it.
This just in: Let your life be your art
If you’re curating your personal art collection, you collect pieces that bring you joy. Curate your life the same way. Fill it with people, activities, and (a sparing number of) belongings that make you happy. Let your life be your greatest work of art.
This just in: Paris state of mind
And all I can think of are the bright lights of Paris. And the people and the music and the picture-perfect scene that welcomed me in around every corner all those years ago. Live in the moment, love the heck out of every experience, and help as many people as you can along the way. That’s what Paris taught me all those years ago, and continues to teach me still.
This just in: It’s time to choose happiness
“Without play, there would be no Picasso. Without play, there is no experimentation. Experimentation is the quest for answers.” ~Paul Rand
My teacher, mentor, and friend, Ed, posted this photo yesterday and it made me think of this quote from Paul Rand. We don’t play enough. We don’t smile, laugh, or enjoy life to the extent that we should. We deserve to be in the front row of this photo in every way, every day. So choose it or lose it. Experiment. Make art. Sing out loud. Dance like a fool. Try something or create something just because you want to. Love big. Take a chance, hold on, and enjoy the ride no matter where it leads. Happiness and play are choices. Make them.
This just in: My latest collage – a self-portrait painted in paper
My latest collage: a self-portrait painted in paper. Halfway through, I hated it. I almost threw it out but decided to stick with it anyway. I’m glad I did. Sometimes you have to love and nourish something through its difficult early stages to really appreciate what it offers.