Your Very Flesh Shall Be A Great Poem

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.
— Walt Whitman

Writers don't often talk about how much we like when you interact on our posts... fearing it will seem too needy and vulnerable, I suppose.  But isn't that the point of sharing? To reach out to the universe and say... Here I am, I have something to say.  Please hear me and respond? Otherwise, I could be simply writing in my journal, closing it up, putting it in my nightstand and calling it a day.  I value your comments and interaction so much. Those of you who take the time, are a treasure to me as a public writer.  Some of you have taken to sending private messages rather than commenting publicly and that's ok too.  You know how deeply I understand that, after the events of the past year and a half of my life. (For those of you new to my website, for a large part of 2013, we dealt with the aftermath of an online hacker who disrupted our personal and financial lives and my emotional life for the better part of a year).  I can't tell you how many times I have sat right here at my computer where I do the bulk of my work, smiling at your humor, leaning into your tenderness, listening to your incredibly intelligent thoughts, accepting your best advice, looking at your beautiful photographs, reading your encouraging notes, and sometimes...depending on your massively strong shoulders.  There are some of you who have journeyed with me more than five years now.  I have laughed, cried and bled with you and that emotional support is beyond priceless to me.  

Opening up my heart and mind, along with my art out into the cyber world opens the door to some measure of risk and criticism too. But it is a risk I am still willing to take, albeit these days on a much smaller and quieter scale that works best for me.  (I read this week somewhere that it is best to put your own oxygen mask on first before attempting to help others with theirs. Truth!)  I believe we change each other just by bumping up against each other and you can't really do that unless you put yourself out there, right? I am constantly amazed by the shades of beauty I see in all of you.. whether you are communicating with me publicly or choosing to reach out through more private channels. So often I sit here at this computer and listen to your hearts that spill out through your pictures and words and think wow.. I never really thought of it that way...  It doesn't really matter if you're an artist who has 25,000 followers or one who has 50.  You share bits and pieces of your own lives with me that make me smile, shed tears, and feel connected, whether you have a big online presence or a small one.  That is such a beautiful, beautiful thing for which I will never find adequate words of appreciation.  I benefit so much from recognizing the value in our different perspectives.  

Most of you know by now that I am a photographer and writer who loves all things artistic. Those pursuits require long hours of shooting with repetitive motion using heavy camera equipment and then even longer hours editing at the computer.  Toward the end of 2012, I began to struggle with some deeper health issues after decades of crappy eating habits (arthritis and the pre stages of type 2 diabetes).  All of that crashed down on me in early 2013, manifesting as chronic pain, weight gain, and pretty serious depression I had trouble admitting even to myself. Cap that off with surgery and a long hard winter and my body, mind and spirit were at an all time low, yet I was still trying to operate my online life as if everything was fine and it was business as usual. After a particularly painful falling out with a friend and potential business partner, I withdrew from nearly everything and everyone that had previously given me joy and closed in on myself for quite awhile.  I didn't recognize it at the time, but it was probably my "rock bottom."  At some point I realized that I had two choices... drown... or swim like hell for all I was worth.  It didn't happen overnight, by any means, but I started small.. treading water until I finally made up my mind to swim.  

Though we are all so different from each other ... deliciously different, I think we can find comfort and commonality simply by walking with each other for awhile and listening.  We can't always do that in person but we can surely do that via whatever channels work best for us.  This little corner, is mine for now... and I am so grateful for those of you who regularly tune in and interact with me.  That has come to mean a whole lot to me.   I've felt the sting of both judgement and criticism in the past, but I learned that so often, the things that bother me most in others... are the areas where I most need work myself.

So often I think we feel change isn't real change unless it is massive and moves mountains. But I loved this quote so much and it has been my mantra for many months now.  "Commit to the daily pressure that compels infinitesimal progress over time."  When you're 20, you feel invincible.  When you're approaching 50 and beyond, you begin to recognize that your physical, mental and spiritual health require long term commitment and is something to be protected and nurtured, if you want to continue to live an active, loving, purpose driven, abundantly joy filled life.  My health is bound pretty tightly to my creativity and I am making infinitesimal progress over time.  Thank you, for spending some of your valuable time here with me.

It has definitely been a year of re-examination and of challenging everything I've ever been taught in school, in church and in books and in dismissing what insults my soul. And it continues to be my prayer that beyond my words, the silent lines are the ones that speak the loudest.