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!
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.
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)
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.
"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."
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.
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.
My photos are in a magazine! #TAC #textileartscenter #brooklyn #published #degen #magazine #textiles #knitwear #fashion #studiovisit #designer
KATHERINE COZUMEL -actress, model, singer
It has been a real pleasure photographing and working with the beautiful and talented Katherine Cozumel. We have worked on four different photo shoots together and every time she gives such an awesome performance and has put up with freezing temperatures and standing on logs with high heels. I look forward to all of our future projects together.
Cowboy Cuddle-an adventure with Mom and Dad
Happy anniversary to my mom and dad who have just celebrated 35 years of following each other into bizarre and interesting hobbies including Irish and Appalachian clog dancing, week long bike adventures, learning Arabic, and many others. One really fun activity that they participate in most years is performing at Wild West Days in Viroqua, WI where they dress up in costumes and play music and dance. I wanted to do a fun story about them as their cowboy characters chasing each other around their property to share this fun, quirky love that they share and the adventures that they have together.
Working on a photo series about self acceptance and love. To start it off I decided that doing birthday suit self portraits would help me overcome some self confidence issues. #selflove #acceptance #birthdaysuit #selfportrait #silly
COWGIRL MOM - Julee Agar, teacher, interpreter, dancer, mother…
With age comes new appreciation of ones parents. Or at least that is what happened to me. My parents are the most multi-talented, generous, and supportive people I know and as I get older I have realized that I actually want to be like them. Weird, I know.
One of their activities is performing in an old time Irish band for Wild West Days in Viroqua, WI. My dad plays mandolin and my mom does a mixture of percussion including clogging on a little board along to the music. And of course, they dress up. These portraits are from a series of images I created of my parents playing around in their costumes.