August 17, 2014
My nephew and I all dressed up for Wild West Days. #wildwestdays #wisconsin #dressup #auntietime

My nephew and I all dressed up for Wild West Days. #wildwestdays #wisconsin #dressup #auntietime

August 11, 2014

Tools of Life-Allowing us to hear the world while living in style with a touch of flair. 

Sandy is a mom, a grandma, an awesome lady, and was brave enough to try surfing while on vacation in South Carolina.

August 11, 2014
Our project was posted on the UK’s Daily Mail and has had some great response. 
Check out the article here!

Our project was posted on the UK’s Daily Mail and has had some great response. 

Check out the article here!

August 6, 2014
These Bedazzled Hearing Aids Might Change The Way You See And Hear The World

July 31, 2014

TOOLS OF LIFE

This project was conceived by artist Elana Langer who approached me about doing a collaboration, after seeing the photographs I had created with her friend Patricia about a meditative experience and garment she had created. 

Elana created bedazzled hearing aids and walker as a way to celebrate and embrace those with disabilities and to have desirable and useful objects that could be seen as fashion statements and that can work against the stigmas of assistance aids.  

The first stop on our photo journey was at a unisex beauty salon in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  When we walked in with the walker the women went crazy.  One of them exclaimed, “I want one of these when I am old.  I would take it to the club!” 

To read Elana’s story about why she created these items please visit the other segments of this photo project.

Tools of Life-can be sexy (lingerie shopping)

Tools of Life-can be classy (hailing a cab)

Also please check out my newest friend Liz Jackson’s site: The Girl with the Purple Cane.  Liz is advocating to have canes be sold through trendy stores like J. Crew. 

July 28, 2014

TOOLS OF LIFE

I have been collaborating recently with the multitalented, ethically conscious, conceptual artist Elana Langer who’s brand What I Live By or WILBy creates consciousness raising ethical sweatshops to educate us on our buying habits and a plethora of other interesting goodies that promote living a better life, embracing ourselves and treating the world better. 

 

The project that we have been working on is about the Tools of Life, a concept inspired by her grandmother.  Elana writes:

 

My grandmother was a real lady. I don’t remember a time when her hair and nails weren’t done and she wasn’t dressed impeccably.  In the last year of her life she, like many others in her condition, lost the ability to walk without support. And although she had a strong will to live, the idea of using a walker in public seemed unbearable to her. The force of her vanity had come up against the limit of the body. Life compromised didn’t seem as worthwhile living. 

 

My cousins and I were in her kitchen about to have lunch while I suggested going out to her favorite restaurant right across from her home. She refused. We all looked at the walker. 

 

"We can bedazzle it!" I exclaimed.  "We can make you the most beautiful walker in the whole city." 

 

My cousins laughed. My grandmother didn’t. In fact this brought on the first and only fight I ever had with her.  

 

"You are making fun."  She stared at me coldly. 

 

"True, I am trying to make this situation more fun. What’s the big deal with a walker? And think of how many other people are like you. We could make a whole business. This would make it something to be proud of like jewelry. We can make walkers for weddings, special occasions, one to match each outfit…you can be our model."

 

My grandmother didn’t laugh. She didn’t see the condition of necessity as something to be played with. 

 

I never made the bedazzled walker for her and I never stopped thinking it was a good idea.  We need to have fun within these places that cause social discomfort. To be able to embrace and play with our desire to adorn and enhance ourselves in both actual necessity (like a walker) and chosen necessity (like make-up, nails, hair, clothing…). 

 

These items and pictures are the result of that. One tool of enhancement, like clothing or jewelry, doesn’t have to compromise another tool of enhancement like the ability to hear or walk with greater ease. Both are enriching our experiences in the world and both are admitting that we need and want help with the conditions that exist within us at any given moment. When used to enhance joy and enjoyment, these are all equally and differently tools of life and living well. 

I loved my grandmother deeply and I miss her in this world and I hope these pictures would make her smile. 

July 25, 2014

TOOLS OF LIFE

I have been collaborating recently with the multitalented, ethically conscious, conceptual artist Elana Langer who’s brand What I Live By or WILBy creates consciousness raising ethical sweatshops, to educate us on our buying habits, and a plethora of other interesting goodies that promote living a better life, embracing ourselves and treating the world better.  

 

The project that we have been working on is about the Tools of Life, a concept inspired by her grandmother.  Elana writes:

 

My grandmother was a real lady. I don’t remember a time when her hair and nails weren’t done and she wasn’t dressed impeccably.  In the last year of her life she, like many others in her condition, lost the ability to walk without support. And although she had a strong will to live, the idea of using a walker in public seemed unbearable to her. The force of her vanity had come up against the limit of the body. Life compromised didn’t seem as worthwhile living. 

 

My cousins and I were in her kitchen about to have lunch while I suggested going out to her favorite restaurant right across from her home. She refused. We all looked at the walker. 

 

"We can bedazzle it!" I exclaimed.  "We can make you the most beautiful walker in the whole city." 

 

My cousins laughed. My grandmother didn’t. In fact this brought on the first and only fight I ever had with her.  

 

"You are making fun."  She stared at me coldly. 

 

"True, I am trying to make this situation more fun. What’s the big deal with a walker? And think of how many other people are like you. We could make a whole business. This would make it something to be proud of like jewelry. We can make walkers for weddings, special occasions, one to match each outfit…you can be our model."

 

My grandmother didn’t laugh. She didn’t see the condition of necessity as something to be played with. 

 

I never made the bedazzled walker for her and I never stopped thinking it was a good idea.  We need to have fun within these places that cause social discomfort. To be able to embrace and play with our desire to adorn and enhance ourselves in both actual necessity (like a walker) and chosen necessity (like make-up, nails, hair, clothing…). 

 

These items and pictures are the result of that. One tool of enhancement, like clothing or jewelry, doesn’t have to compromise another tool of enhancement like the ability to hear or walk with greater ease. Both are enriching our experiences in the world and both are admitting that we need and want help with the conditions that exist within us at any given moment. When used to enhance joy and enjoyment, these are all equally and differently tools of life and living well. 

I loved my grandmother deeply and I miss her in this world and I hope these pictures would make her smile. 

                              -Elana Langer

 

July 24, 2014
DEDICATIONSome people are so passionate about their hobbies, sports, and arts that these past times are carried with them everywhere they go, whether on vacation, at work, asleep…they are part of who they are. Jacob is a hockey goalie in his free time and while on vacation in South Carolina he received a custom made helmet that he just couldn’t put down. That is dedication.
 

DEDICATION

Some people are so passionate about their hobbies, sports, and arts that these past times are carried with them everywhere they go, whether on vacation, at work, asleep…they are part of who they are. 

Jacob is a hockey goalie in his free time and while on vacation in South Carolina he received a custom made helmet that he just couldn’t put down. That is dedication.

 

July 14, 2014
I really like finding interesting juxtapositions to use as starting points for images.  The winter image was inspired as a companion to my Summer Sledding image.  I also really love a man in a tux and bowler hat.  They feel so classic and gentlemanly.  This gentleman I am taking on different adventures and hope to one day have a larger body of work depicting this fellow everywhere.  This fellow happens to be moving to Cairo, Egypt so that might make things a little trickier.  Or I will have to make some more travel plans!

I really like finding interesting juxtapositions to use as starting points for images.  The winter image was inspired as a companion to my Summer Sledding image.  I also really love a man in a tux and bowler hat.  They feel so classic and gentlemanly.  This gentleman I am taking on different adventures and hope to one day have a larger body of work depicting this fellow everywhere.  This fellow happens to be moving to Cairo, Egypt so that might make things a little trickier.  Or I will have to make some more travel plans!

July 9, 2014

WINTER SUNBATHING

Winter adventures are fun, and cold.  The snow was so very wet and Cole’s hands were freezing and red by the end of the hour we spent outside.  Every so often we would step in a patch of snow and suddenly go up to our knee in crusty wet winterness.  

July 2, 2014

babyDEGEN SS15

Some photo shoots are just too adorable and fun to handle.  Amazing and well behaved and adorable babies, cutest little toys, and some kick-ass baby clothes.  Newest addition are the sweet knit caps that both of my nephews need ASAP. 

Clothes can be found at:  www.babydegen.com

Animals by Hazel Village (my new favorite company)

June 27, 2014
A little of the ultimate me. I love dressing up, I really love crimping my hair, I love creating jewelry out of weird objects I find, I love these tentacle serving utensils, and I really love mac and cheese.

A little of the ultimate me. I love dressing up, I really love crimping my hair, I love creating jewelry out of weird objects I find, I love these tentacle serving utensils, and I really love mac and cheese.

June 24, 2014

DEFENSIVE ARMOR

"As children we found ways to protect ourselves from vulnerability, from being hurt, diminished, and disappointed. We put on armor; we used our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as weapons; and we learned how to make ourselves scarce, even disappear.  Now as adults we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection-to be the person whom we long to be-we must again be vulnerable.  We must take off the armor, put down the weapons, show up, and let ourselves be seen."

                                                                            -Brene Brown

June 23, 2014
PERFECTIONISM 

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown talks about different methods in which we shield ourselves from vulnerability.  One of these is with perfectionism.  She writes:
"Perfectionism is not the path that leads us to our gifts and to our sense of purpose; it’s a hazardous detour."
"Perfectionism is a defensive move.  It’s the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement and shame.  Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen."
"Perfectionism is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities."

Perfectionism for me was always that thing you said at job interviews when asked about a weakness.  “Well, I am a bit of a perfectionist”, said it like it was a bad thing but everyone knew it was a good thing.  When I read the section on perfectionism in Daring Greatly it sent this immense wave of confusion, emotion, shock, and then clarity over me.  I found myself awkwardly tearing up as I sat in a cafe, holding the book in front of my face so no one could see.  
My first memory with having perfectionism put on me was in fourth grade.  My teacher, at the Waldorf school I attended, was going through a lot of personal matters and had made the tough decision to leave our class.  Typically a Waldorf teacher stays with their class from first through eighth grade.  The month she left she took each of my classmates aside to have a personal talk.  All I really remember about mine is her saying, “Well, we all know that you are good at everything,” and then she found a few small things to say I needed to work on improving.  I can remember a momentary swell of pride at her initial comment. 
In sixth grade my class had just hung up our charcoal drawings in the hall and an older girl came up to me, looked at my art and annoyed said, “Uh, of course its amazing because you are perfect at everything.”  This time my reaction was more of discomfort.  I wasn’t perfect I just really liked to draw. 
In high school I started hiding my grades because I hated that look my classmates gave me when they saw my report card.  I wasn’t the most social of people and I really didn’t want people disliking me because of some letters on a piece of paper.  I didn’t try any less hard I just tried to minimize what I shared and who saw what I did. If I was super excited because the paper that I worked so hard on got an A+, I sure didn’t show it. 
I created this weird world for myself where I tried way too hard at everything because somehow I didn’t want to disappoint my old teachers or my parents or myself, but at the same time I wouldn’t allow myself to show excitement at my accomplishments or share them with others because it felt embarrassing.  Perfectionism in part kept me trapped inside myself not wanting to disappoint but simultaneously not wanting to annoy.  It has stopped me from following through with projects, caused me immense anxiety, and has given me panic attacks when I start to compare myself to my peers. I have used it as an excuse to not apply for certain jobs because my website wasn’t “perfect”.  It has made me question relationships because they didn’t seem “perfect”.  It has made me question my life because if I want to be a mom some day and I have just turned 30 and am trying to focus on my career but if I wait too long and I need to be in NYC but my family is far away and…..but I want it all to be “perfect”. 

Reading Brené Brown talk about the shield of perfectionism connected with something so deeply ingrained in who I thought I was or needed to be.  I suddenly felt such a beautiful release in anxiety and pressure and self criticism.  I suddenly was being told that this thing that I have clung to as my worth and my value I was being told that no, this is your handicap, this actually is a weakness, a cloak that you have been hiding under thinking it is protection when really it is preventing you from letting others see who you actually are.  By releasing this shield of perfectionism I am learning to show a more authentic self.  A self with flaws and quirks and weirdnesses and mess.  And all of this is letting me give myself a break.   Letting me be less self critical.   Letting me be enough.

PERFECTIONISM

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown talks about different methods in which we shield ourselves from vulnerability.  One of these is with perfectionism.  She writes:

"Perfectionism is not the path that leads us to our gifts and to our sense of purpose; it’s a hazardous detour."

"Perfectionism is a defensive move.  It’s the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement and shame.  Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen."

"Perfectionism is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities."

Perfectionism for me was always that thing you said at job interviews when asked about a weakness.  “Well, I am a bit of a perfectionist”, said it like it was a bad thing but everyone knew it was a good thing.  When I read the section on perfectionism in Daring Greatly it sent this immense wave of confusion, emotion, shock, and then clarity over me.  I found myself awkwardly tearing up as I sat in a cafe, holding the book in front of my face so no one could see.  

My first memory with having perfectionism put on me was in fourth grade.  My teacher, at the Waldorf school I attended, was going through a lot of personal matters and had made the tough decision to leave our class.  Typically a Waldorf teacher stays with their class from first through eighth grade.  The month she left she took each of my classmates aside to have a personal talk.  All I really remember about mine is her saying, “Well, we all know that you are good at everything,” and then she found a few small things to say I needed to work on improving.  I can remember a momentary swell of pride at her initial comment.

In sixth grade my class had just hung up our charcoal drawings in the hall and an older girl came up to me, looked at my art and annoyed said, “Uh, of course its amazing because you are perfect at everything.”  This time my reaction was more of discomfort.  I wasn’t perfect I just really liked to draw.

In high school I started hiding my grades because I hated that look my classmates gave me when they saw my report card.  I wasn’t the most social of people and I really didn’t want people disliking me because of some letters on a piece of paper.  I didn’t try any less hard I just tried to minimize what I shared and who saw what I did. If I was super excited because the paper that I worked so hard on got an A+, I sure didn’t show it.

I created this weird world for myself where I tried way too hard at everything because somehow I didn’t want to disappoint my old teachers or my parents or myself, but at the same time I wouldn’t allow myself to show excitement at my accomplishments or share them with others because it felt embarrassing.  Perfectionism in part kept me trapped inside myself not wanting to disappoint but simultaneously not wanting to annoy.  It has stopped me from following through with projects, caused me immense anxiety, and has given me panic attacks when I start to compare myself to my peers. I have used it as an excuse to not apply for certain jobs because my website wasn’t “perfect”.  It has made me question relationships because they didn’t seem “perfect”.  It has made me question my life because if I want to be a mom some day and I have just turned 30 and am trying to focus on my career but if I wait too long and I need to be in NYC but my family is far away and…..but I want it all to be “perfect”.

Reading Brené Brown talk about the shield of perfectionism connected with something so deeply ingrained in who I thought I was or needed to be.  I suddenly felt such a beautiful release in anxiety and pressure and self criticism.  I suddenly was being told that this thing that I have clung to as my worth and my value I was being told that no, this is your handicap, this actually is a weakness, a cloak that you have been hiding under thinking it is protection when really it is preventing you from letting others see who you actually are.  By releasing this shield of perfectionism I am learning to show a more authentic self.  A self with flaws and quirks and weirdnesses and mess.  And all of this is letting me give myself a break.   Letting me be less self critical.   Letting me be enough.

June 21, 2014
SILLY MEDITATION 
Allowing ourselves to be silly and vulnerable in our willingness to look goofy or strange frees us from the confines of self criticism and perfectionism that hold us back from experiencing life to its fullest.  Let’s all try to be a little more weird and quirky and silly and strange and authentic in the persona we show the world. Let’s all be the most ourselves that we can be.  If we stop spending mental energy comparing ourselves to others, feeling jealous or regretful, imagine the amount of time we could save and use to create something awesome. 
I have been doing a lot of self reflection lately as I struggle with turning 30 and being a freelance photographer.  I have been reflecting on who I am, what I am passionate about, what I love, what I want to say and do and who I want to impact and inspire.  As part of my process I have been creating self portraits using precious object that I have collected over the years that all speak to me in a really special way.  They are my box of treasures that inspire me to create.  This clown nose is one of those objects.  It was given to me by Patch Adams who I know as a child because my dad help work on the free clinic that Patch was creating.  When I graduated from high school Patch sent me one of his books and this clown nose that is hand made by the same person who makes the noses that Patch wears.  I have had to change the elastic a few times but it is thriving.  

SILLY MEDITATION 

Allowing ourselves to be silly and vulnerable in our willingness to look goofy or strange frees us from the confines of self criticism and perfectionism that hold us back from experiencing life to its fullest.  Let’s all try to be a little more weird and quirky and silly and strange and authentic in the persona we show the world. Let’s all be the most ourselves that we can be.  If we stop spending mental energy comparing ourselves to others, feeling jealous or regretful, imagine the amount of time we could save and use to create something awesome. 

I have been doing a lot of self reflection lately as I struggle with turning 30 and being a freelance photographer.  I have been reflecting on who I am, what I am passionate about, what I love, what I want to say and do and who I want to impact and inspire.  As part of my process I have been creating self portraits using precious object that I have collected over the years that all speak to me in a really special way.  They are my box of treasures that inspire me to create.  This clown nose is one of those objects.  It was given to me by Patch Adams who I know as a child because my dad help work on the free clinic that Patch was creating.  When I graduated from high school Patch sent me one of his books and this clown nose that is hand made by the same person who makes the noses that Patch wears.  I have had to change the elastic a few times but it is thriving.  

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