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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

A Series of Snapshots

Dr. Zan’s Thoughts:

Photography is a hobby that brings me great joy. It is my only art form and one that I accomplish by mere virtue of the fact that I take such a voluminous number of photos that some are bound to be gorgeous. I persist despite the consternation of my family, who is frequently annoyed by my insistence that they pause so I can capture their images. Also irritating is my constant position of “bringing up the rear” when we are on a hike with stunning views that can never be adequately captured but that draw me to make every effort to do so anyhow. I hear and respect the family protests; however, I also take note when they spend time poring over my photographic documentation of a trip or a significant milestone in our lives. In truth, I believe they would be at least a little bit disappointed if I suddenly left my camera behind during these shared experiences. Their disappointment would likely be equal parts concern (“Who is this person who looks like but does not share the soul of our mother/aunt/sister/partner/friend?”) and loss (“Oh, I really wanted to see what we looked like after soaking in the rain at that graduation!”) For now it is unlikely that they will have to learn how it feels to live through a big event without seeing me on the other side of my camera lens.

Looking at life through the lens of a camera provides a useful metaphor for how I want to engage with the coming year. I want to bring the important moments into focus, with the greatest of clarity and crispness. When an image comes out as a blur, I want to understand how and why that occurred. Perhaps, I can even find the beauty in the blur as it speaks to the movement and fleeting quality of human experience. For me, accumulating a vast number of connection points that explore both sameness and difference is important, cultivating an appreciation for the slightest variations of each. Constructing opportunities to re-experience and reflect on a scene, a feeling, a thought, an idea. I want to find fulfillment in the extraordinarily ordinary and pause in humility when in the presence of the exceptional. I want to remember that sometimes the ordinary and the exceptional are not really all that different. Above all, I want to find the patience to try again and again to capture that which is inspirational, or to completely wear myself out in service to that effort.

Some of my photography, even most of it, is pretty mediocre. But the process of creating it is sacred; at least it is to me. And, by the way, my adult children have decided that maybe it would actually be kind of nice to have one of their mother’s photos enlarged and displayed on the wall of their own living space. That was never the goal, but it turns out that it is a pinnacle.

Dr. Nadine’s Reflections:

I think in pictures.  When I survey what surrounds me, I visualize my world.  I absorb it. I study it. I incorporate it.

I’ve had the good fortune to have traveled the globe, to have seen the mundane and the exotic, the pedestrian and the sublime, in all sorts of places.  Pictures were the way I captured all my experiences. For me, too, taking pictures has been the way I’ve assimilated my memories. Looking back at my photos, I can relive the wonderful experiences I’ve had, and make them real again in the present moment. I’ve used the process of taking photos to incorporate into my being those precious moments in time.

Like Dr. Zan, this time I’m looking ahead instead of behind.  I too am approaching this new year looking through a series of lenses.  Those lenses are found in my own eye, in my camera, and in the lens of others’ cameras.  I’ll be focusing on a landscape, but this time it won’t be simply in my outer world. It’ll also be a picture of my inner landscape.  I’m doing this by creating a “vision board”, using pictures to represent all of the wonderful dreams I have for 2019. Just as I use my photos from all my trips, I am using visual images to capture my dreams as I see them in my imagination.  I can experience my desires as if they’re already real; I can make them a part of me; I can live them in the present moment. In this way, my hopes and aspirations become alive and are a tangible part of my daily life. I want to use these images to continue to draw me toward them, to automatically prompt choices that naturally lead me in the direction that my dreams are pointing.

Vision boards are a new idea to me, but not a new idea at all.  Many people, known and unknown, use them to align their daily rounds with their lofty goals.  One of the biggest proponents is Steve Harvey, stand-up comic and TV/radio host. During an interview in Oprah’s #Lifeclass, he declared he’d be in trouble without his.  It was part of his process to overcome failure: homelessness, poverty, fear, stuttering, humiliation…

I love Dr. Zan’s desire to bring the “important moments [in life] into focus…”  I want that for myself, I want it for my Dear Ones, and I want it for you. It’s my wish that we let gratitude teach us what we value, so that we simplify our lives and focus on what gives us purpose and pleasure.  It is my hope that you’ll find a few pictures that symbolize what you want for 2019.

Dream big.


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