Tea Breaks & Clay Days

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We ventured to another time, where people were one with the clay. Entering the classroom was to know that nothing else would exist for seven hours. Just you, your hands and mind wrestling with the clay.

The struggle was real, and it was beautiful.

We made tea when our hands could no longer understand the signals from our weary minds and when the body was too exhausted from spiraling, wedging and throwing the clay.

We’d sit outside on the wooden benches drinking slowly and breathing even slower to try and attempt it once again.

Here we all were, each with a quiet fight all our own.

I grew frustrated.

I cursed at the clay in my mind and thought, ” how do my hands and mind keep missing one another?” Like star crossed lovers never to kiss. So close, yet so far.

And she told us of Japan. Artist in residence for three months, when all she thought every morning as she cast her sheets aside, gazing out to the grey shackled rooftops-“No, I’m not home I’m still in Japan. Way too early to begin to craft something so fragile. So earthly.”

And we all marveled at her stories, and her wisdom. She breathed art, and Arita porcelain and spoke wonders of the ceramist who taught her everything she knew. Now here we all were attempting the very same craft that takes two years to master in Japan. Naively attempting to do it all in just two weeks.

I felt broken each morning.

Not wanting to get up. The silica had taken its toll on my back, hands, fingers and forearms.

“Not again.” I thought. But the beauty in the struggle was too wonderful. I had to beat it. I had to make something. I had to keep creating. Fighting to do at least something. Anything. My hands grew desperate. Only finding solace in her words…

“Art is a process not only a thing.”

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And thats the crux of it isn’t it? As artists in the Western world we are defined by the number of pieces we create. By a finished product.

Yet, here was something so pure, so true, so innocent setting me free.

“Art is a process not only a thing.”

There’s beauty in learning. There’s beauty in the struggle. Growth as artists only happens as you learn new things. Taking different snippets of the various arts there are and mixing them all together to become an entity,  an aura all your own.

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Yes, I was impatient. But I learned not only from the clay but from the many talented colleagues around me. Colleagues that taught me patiently different aspects of creating, so patiently as I was on the verge of tears.

We humbly made tea for one another, and fed one another.  Each afternoon we’d all take a break and listen to each others stories and our instructors oracles of Japan. Of the grey roof tops, the beauty of community, China on the Park and breakdowns at Narita airport.

We sipped our tea, immersed in the clay on our shoes. Growing more as artists-if I dare call myself one-and cheering one another on, even when our pieces were warping into other worldly things.

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My hands will not be the same after this class, my muscles, my creative process, my mind.

There’s an honesty, an immersion that happens when you all are in one same creative spirit.

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Go out and DO. Do something that you wouldn’t typically do. Because its only stagnant things that die. I may be far from pleased with my finished pieces, but this time it wasn’t about the outcome it was about the process.

 

All my love,

-Diana Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Boyd Boys

Stumbled upon old photos from my time being a nanny in Australia. I miss these boys and family so much. I remember spending weekends with them. Their mom would make us breakfast in the morning, and we’d talk about God and life. We’d set clothes out to dry on the clothesline in the springtime while the smell of Jasmine sifted through the Aussie air. The floorboards would creek with charm and so much love from all the love it experienced within its four walls. The sun would stream in through the kitchen windows basking the house in a warm afternoon glow. We would make Earl Grey tea with milk and it was serenity, love in its purest form, and goodness of people that are now oceans and memories away. I will never forget them, and will carry them in my heart ever so fondly. Miss you Boyd family. Sending you love. Wherever you may be now.

-Diana

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With Wonder

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We explore in order to discover. We stop seeking in order to find. We risk in order to gain. In this season of my life a lot has been held in the paradoxes of life. Am learning that sometimes what may be right for me may not translate to other people and thats okay. Its okay to be unconventional. Its okay to do things in my own way, and to cast a line out to life and believe and hope for the best.

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I am learning to go back to the basics. I’m learning to let things go that are beyond my control, its a way of living that I’ve always strived to know. And its not easy, every morning when the anxiety of the desire to control sets in I breathe look to the sky-the beautiful face of God- and believe, and trust him through the heartache. I didn’t get the promotion that I worked so hard for, and for a while everything I hoped for was threatened. A dark cloud spread across what I thought was going to be the start of a great year. BUT GOD-in all his godliness reminded me that its not the end until he says it is. Until he bolts the door and tosses the key. Its not over until my God says it is.

I had lost faith in journalism, I had seen too many horrid things. Things humans shouldn’t do to other humans but then one morning over coffee and an ancient face and voice met with me and reminded me of the power of the lens. Of the weapon that a camera can be and the passion that never lets you give up even when you just feel like its not worth it anymore. There in the Frontier over breakfast burrito, and surprisingly good coffee I left with a hope-a vision to create, inspire, innovate and create change. There in the ancient eyes of one of my mentors I refused to give up. Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

And so we “beat on like boats against the current,” attempting to live each day in beauty. Grabbing coffee in the early morning at Limonata as the sky lay covered in looming grey clouds bringing in sleet and snow. And we sipped our coffee and we scribbled on the condensed filled window the word friend, and fought for our happiness. Fought to relinquish control, breathe and savor the moments left before the Great Departure. And it all felt like breathing. And it felt like a great rebellion to the sadness in this world.

And we drove. We drove in the same familiar red Jeep to a new place. Where a part of Korea lay hidden like a gem in this tired city. We greeted the face of the old man with “Annyeonghaseyo,” we bowed and I looked on with curiosity at the touch of a faraway place, while my dear friend smiled at the familiarity. There sprawled on shelves lay treasures of a culture that has grown like moss in me. There sprawled on the shelves lay my desires to know that place and to visit it one day. There on the shelves lay a new adventure waiting to be tamed, ventured and lived.

And there on the tongue of the old man lay the language of something so new, shiny and utterly enticing.

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But isn’t it like God to bring wonder into our lives? Isn’t it like God to resurrect dead bones, and to breathe into a life that couldn’t bare with the monotony anymore. Isn’t it like God to spark new desires and goals so that our souls won’t grow old. Isn’t it like God to make treasure out of rubble. And isn’t it like God to create life over and over and over and over again?

Isn’t it glorious to know that no matter how hurt we are, that no matter how much we screw things up that HE STILL HAS A PLAN FOR US.

Isn’t it grand to know that such a God exists?

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“so we beat on boats against the current,” with eyes wide in wonder of what still is to come. The trips that still need to be taken, the new friendships that have formed, the new language that is to be learned, the new book that needs to be read, the cup of coffee that will be savored, and the prayers that will be answered.

22-23 “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have! (Matthew 6:22-23 The MSG)

Swallowing the Sun: For you the Creative Folk

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Here’s the thing, I love my job.

There are moments that it hits me, I’m a photographer, or to state it in journalist lingo-a photojournalist.

It is weird to call myself this. Its hard to roll this around my tongue and let it spew out into the world, as though uttering it will cause the world to stop spinning on an axis-because I haven’t accepted it myself.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking back toward my car after dropping off my pictures in the newsroom. I don’t know what it was about that day but something crept inside me and told me, “You aren’t good enough.” That’s all it took to unravel me, shake me, and strip me of what little confidence I held, as what do you call it?-oh yeah-as a photographer.

I was so rattled that when a homeless man stopped me I had to ask him to repeat his question.

“Excuse me, sorry what did you say?”

“I said are you like a photographer?”

I looked down at the Canon hanging around my neck, and stroked the lens, “Yeah I guess you can say that.”

We talked, it must have been like half an hour. Mostly, on his hardships and the sadness he felt and I felt it too. He had dropped out of law school, and he believed he wasn’t good enough to go back.

And that’s the crux of it isn’t it friends? We quit halfway through something because we don’t believe in our capacities, because we compare and believe the other guy is better than us.

When this homeless man stopped me and asked me if I was a photographer, I couldn’t even admit it myself. You see, we examine ourselves too closely. Living a creative life-or in other words to have a job that requires even the most remote of creativity fills us with paralyzing fear. Fear because there is no formula to creativity, art, photography, writing. All of these forms are so subjective- the beauty found in the eyes of each individual beholder.

What made Andy Warhol famous won’t make you or I famous, we are not Andy Warhol.

We push ourselves too hard, and give ourselves impossible standards, its like asking ourselves to swallow the sun. Impossible.

Or like Elizabeth Gilbert says:

So when I heard that story it started to shift a little bit the way that I worked too, and it already saved me once. This idea, it saved me when I was in the middle of writing “Eat, Pray, Love,” and I fell into one of those, sort of pits of despair that we all fall into when we’re working on something and it’s not coming and you start to think this is going to be a disaster, this is going to be the worst book ever written. Not just bad, but the worst book ever written. And I started to think I should just dump this project. But then I remembered Tom talking to the open air and I tried it. So I just lifted my face up from the manuscript and I directed my comments to an empty corner of the room. And I said aloud, “Listen you, thing, you and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this. So if you want it to be better, then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal. O.K. But if you don’t do that, you know what, the hell with it. I’m going to keep writing anyway because that’s my job. And I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job.”

It might seem strange to think of her yelling at an empty corner, but you know what friends she has a point. Let me explain:

You see, we have an amazing God who has placed these massive dreams and talents in our lives. Every creative individual has been in the shoes of, “this project/book/I/ are not good enough.” No one is immune. Yet, there are times we need to tell God,

“you can see that I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this.”

There will be moments when you have no idea what the heck you are doing, just keep showing up.

Because showing up means you haven’t given up. Because showing up means that no matter what you are too passionate to quit. Because showing up is telling the enemy that you will not let him win. Because in showing up you put your hope in God, and ask him to breathe and work his mysterious ways on what you cannot.

Keep showing up. Keep doing what you love, because there is no one that can do what you can, and remember God is right there with you, no matter the outcome.

Art is beauty, art is yours… and like Charles Pierce says,

To lead a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.

And remember that its okay to push yourself, but by no means can you swallow the sun, and learn to be brave and call yourself what you truly are an artist,

photographer, writer, innovator. 

Best,

-Diana

A Little Reminder

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“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”

       -Denis Waitley

 

 

 

*I took this picture of my friend during my Michigan trip, more photos of the trip can be found on the “Travels: Michigan” tab. Enjoy friends. –Diana

The Blue House on Bourke Street

I would  sit in front of the big blue house, sometimes with the occasional bag of M&M’s or a steamy flat white. The afternoons were colored dark grey by the stormy clouds of Sydney winters the only vibrant color coming from the pale blue house. I’d sit and look at its mosaic stained glass thinking about life and retrospection, counting the days for the plane ride back to the familiar place.

I don’t know what it was about that blue house. Maybe it was the bohemian interior of colorful throw pillows on the couch, the wooden floor boards or the grand piano. But all I knew is that every time I felt homesick or melancholy I’d wonder to the familiar bench and stare at the big blue house. So much so, that its residents took notice of me and accepted me as part of the interior.

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I left many things on that bench. Mostly the load of an unwounded mind for the next traveler, and an indention of myself now just a memory to that street.

I’d sit beneath the cascade or barren leafs of the massive tree reading Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, with my bright pink Leuchtturm and pen at the ready marinating in the little pleasantries of everyday life; counting every falling leaf as a small guarded blessing, and finding inspiration all around me.

I watched strangers pass by, each absorbed in their own world, fighting their own battles, and having people to love, and dogs to walk. It wasn’t a lonely street, but it was quiet and charming and aligned with town houses I could never afford.

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In the winter the leaves from Autumn were illuminated by the rain, the blue house more vibrant than all the rest, the barbershop humming peacefully, a circadian rhythm of familiarity. In the spring this street was breathtaking. The purple Jacaranda trees in full bloom, the house also blooming with delicate and fragrant Jasmine-everyone strolling cheerfully in bright colors.

I miss the big blue house. Maybe because those were my fondest memories of self, of observation and reflection. A repose in hues of blue and a reminder that home is where the heart is. It would be mistake to think that this place wasn’t my home, for there is where I felt more at home.

That old squeaky bench, the patch of grass, the European architecture, each an uncovered secret I made my own. In this place it always felt like something grand was around the corner, a new discovery to be made a new café to try, and a life to celebrate.

Yes, I miss the big blue house. With each coming of seasons there it stood the same as ever-grand and beautiful.

-Diana

Changes & Sweaty Palms

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Transcendence by definition is, “existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level.” (Google) And so far this summer has felt a lot like this. Time has been passing by really fast and really slow all at the same time, while my body is stuck somewhere in between. A lot of changes have occurred and I am still bewildered at how fast things can change. Change has no set time or space, it just happens-when it happens.

Change happens to you and to me, and to party balloons as they deflate. Its unavoidable.

Not all change is bad, but not all change is good. But for the sake of hope and light I will choose to believe that all change is used by God to reconstruct, mold and beguile us.

This summer I’ve gone to more interviews than this past year alone. I met with editors and my palms sweated and I fumbled with my words, and at the end of every meeting I told myself, “the real failure is not to try.” I sat in a building that held my aspirations and dreams in its squeaky floor boards, cheap coffee, and deadlines.

Because where else would aspiring student journalists write?

I went to a protest and took pictures for the first time as a photojournalist. I met new individuals who restored my hope in humanity, and for the first time in a long time I felt like I was a part of something.

A nasty sunburn later, thousands of edited photos and bruised feet landed me my first official job at my university’s newspaper, hello photojournalism? 

It’s a new season.

This summer has thrown me and my family in the ringer, and in the eye of the tornado if I am honest. Life picked us up and shook us by our toes and left us feeling rattled and shaken. We almost said goodbye to my dear grandmother, but the fighter in her did not give up, and neither did our amazing God.

We will be saying goodbye to my brother soon as he moves out of state taking our beloved pup. This was a fresh wound that we found to great to understand, but as we quieted our fears and lifted our eyes we realized that God is in everything, and has prepared good for those who love and trust in him. His sole whisper bringing us peace and respite.

My seemingly quiet existence and my attempt to relax this summer will be cast away, as I begin to take steps into a different world not born in me. A world with more deadlines, and learning experiences and interactions.

And that’s the best place to be. The place where we continue to grow and change…

Perhaps change is the best thing in the end, disguised as a welcoming friend- because in the end only stagnant things die.

So chase down your lions my friends, and no matter the outcome just know you went down swinging.

All my love,

-Diana

 

*All photos are my own

Pancakes and a Sunrise

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The sun was still slumbering away somewhere in space as we rose to the cascading snow covering the land of Idaho. It was my 18th birthday and every ounce of me wanted to stay warm and snug in my blankets. The clock kept reminding me that it was four a.m. and as I made my way upstairs to the sound of squeaky boards beneath my feet I could smell the remnants of the firewood that had given up long ago.

Yet, slowly I began to get excited. There was something special about being the only ones awake. My best friends mom decided to take us out to have a special birthday breakfast just the four of us, as the rest of the household slept. So we made our way to Butter Burr’s and began to warm our faces, noses and the rest of our limbs to gain back some circulation.

We sat and ate our freshly made pancakes and sipped our warm coffee as we watched the snow descend, while the first glows of morning began to break through the heavy blanket of clouds.

And it was all so painstakingly beautiful that getting up at four a.m. was worth it.

I could’ve missed this moment. I could’ve missed this moment due to warm blankets and comfort. I realize that I tend to do this a lot in my life. I tend to miss moments because of laziness, insecurity and apathy, and surely this isn’t the way that it should be.

There are memories I wish I could’ve established with my parents, and sometimes it pains me to think that we don’t have memories of an island that consists of cannon balls and bon fires at night, or catching fireflies in the backyard. I would hate to reach the end of my life knowing that there could’ve been more. That there was a potential for a treasure chest to be filled to the rim of breathtaking memories which give significance and value to this time on earth, and a depth to to this human experience.

Don’t get me wrong there have been some good memories, but it scares me to think that my mind strains to think of one “full bellied” memory, and when I don’t I get choked up and think, God the story must get better.

I want to take trips with my parents and have crazy memories that leave coke running down my nose because of the laughter and the joy we are feeling, I want my parents to feel like their life was full of memories of us.

What stories are we telling to ourselves, friends, kids, wives, families, and husbands? What have we let slip by our fingers simply because of something so small like “we were too tired?” It sounds silly but its true.

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For instance one night after a graduation dinner me and my flat mates at one in the morning decided to climb the hill in the park. This particular hill had an amazing view of downtown Sydney. This spur of the moment decision ended up being an amazing morning; we said goodbye to one of our flat mates and spoke of the moments that had shaped us as we watched the lights of the city dance like fireflies. After the tales were over we sat in silence-the only noise coming from the cars passing through the nearby highway, the raindrops began to trickle and began to blur the city lights as I asked beneath my breath, “Why didn’t we do this more often?” to which my friend responded with, “because its easier not to.”

Isn’t that the truth?

That particular moment brought us closer together and fostered many laughs-(especially since I ended up falling down the hill as we descended which was actually really funny) and it all could’ve been so easily lost. This memory wouldn’t of happened if we simply decided that it was too cold and too late at night to do so.

So this summer I want to live in these moments. In these moments that involve risk and discomfort  because they all hold the power to become a great moment, memory and story. I’ll learn to let the quietness and occasional solitude reap contentment, and I hope to create more intentional moments with my family.

What about you friend, what story do you want to tell? What risks do you need to take?

All my love,

-Diana

Reflections of Heartache

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Its strange when you find yourself in the middle of a heartache. A fresh wound that hurts too much-harrowing and gnawing you from the inside. It is hard to imagine who you were prior to this zombie you have become. Is it possible that you were a smiling happy person?

Where have you gone dear soul, where?

Today I find myself grateful for sunlight, and for a friend who has seen every tear and heard the recurring story, not once seeing me in judgment but seeing the real me-the one I have forgotten- and speaking life into what feels like an empty grave.

Today I am grateful for the horse I got a chance to stroke. A horse whose eyes connected with mine, and reminded me of a God whom may not be physically present yet finds such tangible, beautiful and mysterious ways of showing me his relentless pursuit of my heart.

Today I am grateful for tears, for they are able to say more than I could with words.

Today I am grateful for a Gospel that has come for such people like me.

Today I am grateful for my pain, because although right now it may be too painful to understand, someday down the line someone will resonate with this circumstance and feel like there is hope even in ruins.

Today I am grateful for love, and although I was shattered in the pursuit of it, I am grateful that I still believe in its possibility.

Right now although I feel like everything has fallen apart, and I find myself in a rinse cycle of heartache and life I know someday his warmth will cover my wound and heal it in his entirety.

Right now however, I’ll take it one day at a time… and let his unmerited grace swallow me whole, and carry me through.

I ask friends, from one screen to another, from one corner of the world to another to please whisper a prayer of strength in my behalf. And if you find yourself in a similar boat, am deeply, deeply sorry- but please dear soul do not give up on love…

Blessings,

-Diana

Unearthing Mystery…

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Sometimes you just need to sit in quietude.

I know friend that sometimes it is easier said than done. For distractions allow us to numb out the pain, and our minds. Sometimes it is in dwelling in a quiet place that our soul can connect to that part of itself that needs to vent, to reflect. 

To the part that needs to spew out the inner toxic emotions in tears, in prayers, and in rants. Rants that made more sense within your mind, and once you speak them out loud they sound so petty and so childish; as though they don’t hold as much finality as you thought they did.

Lately the quiet places have been a hard place for me to dwell. It’s in the quiet that I discover how lonely I feel, and I discover how restless and broken I truly am. It’s a hollow place when you are in a tough season, but I believe that it can also be a place that brews contentment when you are in a sweet season.

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This fragile space has let me to cry out in thankfulness that Jesus came for the sick. That he comes for the people who are broken. It’s a comfort that I can’t even begin to explain. It has been like one of those revelations that catches you in the throat like a burning sob, reminding you of the power of emotion, and the power of being so human, and the power of a God whose Gospel is so real.

It’s hard to sit with myself and dig. Dig deep down past my bones, past the flesh into a cosmic soul that is far from home.  Digging is archeology-an excavation of meaning a study of ourselves. It is seeking the heart of God in the midst of the rubble all the while accepting the direction of its unearthing.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

God knows when something glorious in the future necessitates something difficult in the present. Because He knows the glory will be worth it, God will risk being misunderstood. (Beth Moore)

So as I sit in the quiet place and attempt to accept its mystery, its ebbs and its flows, I will remind myself that His ways are higher. We live in a broken world, but thank God that the physician has come for such people like us.

Thank you God for dwelling with me in the quiet place, and for risking being misunderstood… as the mystery is to grand for me/ us to grasp.

Blessings to you friends,

-Diana

 

*Please excuse my unpainted fingernails, and blurry self portrait.