Turning the Lens on Myself

{Last week I participated in a self-portrait class hosted by Michelle GD.  Each day she gave us a single prompt which we then interpreted by turning the lens on our selves.  I found the week to be thought-provoking and a challenge for my camera-shy self. Below are a few of my favorites.}


Strength (noun) :  a strong or positive quality

When I reflect on strength I think about my hands and what they are capable of.  They have soothed fevered foreheads, wiped away tears, created pieces of art, offered comfort and consolation.  They have applauded the success of others and have been joined together in prayer.  My hands show my age perhaps more than any other part of my body; they represent a life well lived, one that has had challenges as well as triumphs.  


Ritual (noun) a ceremonial act or action

I make my bed every morning, finding comfort in the straightening and smoothing of sheets, the folding of quilts, the fluffing of pillows.  I read a story once where the main character compared the state of the marriage bed to the state of her relationship with her husband.  Her bed was hastily put together; sheets rumpled, bedskirt askew.  Our bed is made with care, love for my marriage imbued within each layer.


Quiet (adjective) free from noise or uproar

I seek out quiet the way others seek out stimulation.  I crave quiet, especially in today's world where there is so much agitation and clamor.  Quiet grounds me, returns me to a state of equilibrium, of balance and peace.  It is so good for my soul.  Quiet and I are good friends.

This class really caused me to work outside of my comfort zone, which is always a good thing.  I also enjoyed seeing my classmates' interpretations of the daily prompt.  How do you feel about self-portraiture?  Is it something you are comfortable with?  Or, are you more like me, a little hesitant about turning the lens on your self?



"Self-portraits are a way of revealing something about oneself." ~ Eric Kandel

Book Talk



Chatting with Michelle GD

Today marks the beginning of what I hope will be a monthly series of interviews with creative kinfolk about their reading lives.  This month I spoke with photographer and writer Michelle GD, whose focus on the small quiet moments in her life has influenced the way I look at my own world.  Enjoy!

Photograph by Michelle GD

What books are currently on your nightstand?

In truth, I have two rows (!!!) on the floor in front of my nightstand.  Too many, I know, so I’ll just share a few:  A Year of Mornings by Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes, Devotions by Mary Oliver, Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser, Collected Poems by Jane Kenyon.

What book first got you hooked on reading as a child?

It’s hard to remember if there was one book that did the hooking; I remember loving to read at a very young age.  We had a Volkswagen camper and I have distinct memories of sitting in the way back (this was before seatbelts and car seats, ahem) reading books when my mom dropped my older sisters at school.  If I had to choose one book from my early days it would be The World of Pooh by A.A. Milne.

Which book would you say has most influenced the way you view the world and why?

That’s a tough question as different books have influenced me in different ways throughout my life.  I could cite titles from various points in my life but, in the interest of answering your question, I’ll say The World of Pooh.  I loved the characters and the warmth imbued.  Of course, I didn’t explain it as such when I was a child!  But I’m sure that I felt it and I’m sure that I internalized some of that intended goodness as I read and re-read that volume.  There are nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout the Pooh stories that gently guide children and teach valuable lessons…better yet, wisdom.  And, if we allow so, the stories guide adults as well.

Whenever I stumble upon quotes from The World of Pooh, I am delighted.  Like these:

Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

 Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.

 You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you.  You have to go to them sometimes.

Delightful.  Insightful.  Like a hug and a big fat yes.  I want to live this kind of wisdom.

Which genres are you drawn to and which do you avoid?

I love both fiction and nonfiction, and read lots of both.  Within those broad distinctions, I’m especially drawn to historical fiction, creative nonfiction, cookbooks, and poetry.  I read none in the way of mystery or horror.

Photograph by Michelle GD

Which books have you introduced to your children and which have they introduced to you?

Reading aloud, the three of us, is one my very favorite things to have done with my kids.  Naturally, we read The World of Pooh.  Some others we enjoyed reading (there were so many):  all of Roald Dahl’s books, the Tales of Magic series by Edward Eager, The Oz books (as in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz…I had no idea there were 14 titles in that series when I started reading them with my kids!), The Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.  We read voraciously, so anytime I stumbled upon a good series, I was immensely grateful.

As for what they’ve introduced to me, in an indirect way:  The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I read The Hobbit when I was young and remember loving it, but for some reason, I never went on to read the LOTR trilogy.  After I read The Hobbit aloud with my son a few years ago, I directed him to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which he read independently.  He loved it so much that I then decided to read the trilogy aloud with both kids.  If it hadn’t been for my son’s intense love of the trilogy, who knows if I’d have gotten around to reading it on my own.

As a photographer, is there a particular book or author that you find yourself referring to again and again?  As a writer?

Oh, there are so many!  Let’s see...

For photography:  The Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing by Philippe L. Gross and S.I. Shapiro

For writing:  anything Anne Lamott, and anything Mary Oliver…they both inspire me to keep going.


Which three authors (living or dead) would you invite to join you for dinner and why?

Anne Lamott, because she’s funny and kind and honest and insightful, and deeply human.

Mary Oliver, because her words and ways of being soften my heart.

Maya Angelou, because she’s Maya Angelou.

Is there a book that you often recommend to others?

Reading is deeply personal, and I like to know something about a person before I recommend a book.  One book that I might recommend across the board though:  The Humans by Matt Haig.  Haig writes eloquently about the human condition; he explores our messy, darker sides in addition to what it is that makes us beautiful.  He writes with wit and in a style that is both blunt and soft.  Towards the end of The Humans there is a section that blew me away, and it’s one I return to again and again.  If you’ve read the book – or if you do – you’ll know exactly what I mean.  It’s a touchstone.  And it tugs at my heart every time I read it.

Photograph by Michelle GD

Finally, what are you planning to read next?

Well, I’ve just begun A Homemade Life by MollyWizenberg.  It’s a memoir with recipes sprinkled throughout, and is a comfortable sort of read.  After that I’m planning to return to Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  I’ve been reading it off and on for months, and want to finish it!



Michelle GD is a writer and photographer.  She likes to notice the tiny moments that make up a day…the moments that fill the spaces, the in-betweens.  She also likes to help others learn to do the same.  You can read more about her work and online workshops at www.michellegd.com and visit her quiet corner on Instagram @michelle_gd.



I had a lot of fun learning about Michelle's reading life and hope you did as well.  I am very excited about this series!  I would love to hear what you thought in the comments below, especially if you have any questions that you would like to see included next month for my interview with Karen of Pumpkin Sunrise. Cheers! 

Small Bits of My Week

One thing you may not know about me is that I live a quiet life.  I retired early from teaching because of a recurring bout of cancer and for the past 6 years have been crafting a new life for myself.  My children are grown and out of the house and my husband works long hours.  I worried at first that I would find the long days alone...well, lonely... but discovered that I am quite content and am able to keep busy.

One thing I love to do is record the small moments in my life.  I was introduced to this practice by Michelle GD, whose workshops and IG hashtag #tinytinymoments encourages us to stay present to the small quiet moments of our day.  Here is a glimpse of my week:

This winter has been made up of long stretches of gray, bone-chilling days which have kept me inside more than I like.  Because I began a personal challenge to take a photo a day, I have had to be resourceful.  This has resulted in some lovely moments discovering the play of light on objects in our home I have taken for granted.  I'm seeing things in a new way.

I'm painting again! It is really cold in my studio during the winter, the temperature rarely getting above 60 degrees. This week I moved all of my paints up to the kitchen.  During the day our kitchen table is transformed into my painting place.  Now my paints are happy (they didn't like the cold) and I am happy as well.  

A quiet moment spent looking at my youngest daughter's bedroom.  I love the morning light there.  Not much has been changed since she moved away to work overseas.  I am thinking it may be time to put the things she left behind in storage {don't tell her, but we could use the bookshelf space her books have been occupying ; ) }.

Valentine's Day found me in the kitchen all afternoon, preparing a special meal for my husband.  It came together perfectly and we enjoyed it with a good bottle of red wine.  A lovely, quiet evening.

What has your week been like?  Have there been small moments that brought you joy?  

Sharing with Michelle GD

 I have begun a separate section on my website for my photo a day project.  It is called  Project 365  and I would love for you to come and check out my progress.  I have made a promise to myself to post both the good and the not-so-good in order to be true to my progress.

I have begun a separate section on my website for my photo a day project.  It is called Project 365 and I would love for you to come and check out my progress.  I have made a promise to myself to post both the good and the not-so-good in order to be true to my progress.