value: to regard highly

Happy New Year!

I know it is September, not January. For most of my life (not the most that is anything-more-than-50% most, but the most that is nearly-all most), the beginning of school signals a new year more than does the turning of the wall calendar.  Plus, September is birthday month around here.

(Yes, I still have a wall calendar.)

While tomorrow is the first day of classes for our local public schools, my daughter started college in upstate New York last week, and I’ve had some quiet time since I flew back to anticipate what this next school year means to me.

I woke up this morning from a strange dream/nightmare sequence, disoriented and foggy, reluctant to go back to sleep.

Instead, I took stock. I thought about the blessings in my life, the things I am grateful for.  This is something I make a regular practice of, but this morning, I phrased it differently.

What comes next?  Where do I focus my attention? What projects get first dibs on my time and energy?

What do I value?

Then, as I am wont to do (stop laughing, Kim), I made a list.

I value
  • family
  • education (and access to)
  • good food (and access to)
  • strong communities
  • social justice
  • clean design
  • conversation
I value the practice of
  • trust
  • gratitude
  • respect
  • dignity
  • kindness
  • balance
  • sharing
I value simple things
  • soft sheets
  • smooth paper
  • wedding bands
  • a sturdy mug
  • warm boots
  • dark chocolate
  • loyal dogs
  • a hammock

I value song, and the creativity to meld words and music.

I value flowers, and the vision of the gardener to put faith in sun and seed and soil.

I value stories, and the older folks who hold and share them.

I value memories, and all the parents who seek to make them for and with children.

I value teachers, in all their forms, especially the ones who bring humility and kindness to “I don’t know.”

I value the smell of salt air, and the capacity of the oceans to teach, heal, soothe, and excite.

I value my life and the gift it is to have senses, to walk the earth, to feel joy.

And that was a fine way to dismiss the nightmare and begin the day.


about the photo

This is the first full week of a new phase in my life as a mother, as a wife, as a woman.  With Kristina gone to college, everything feels new and different, my assumptions up for grabs.

A few weeks ago, Karen Walrond shared a link to Xanthe Berkeley’s self-portrait project.  I looked at Xanthe’s photos in wonder.  When I thought of a self-portrait, I pictured something stark and bald, somewhere between a mug shot and a passport photo.  This collection is decidedly neither.

Normally, I am not a fan of being in front of the camera.

Looking at Xanthe’s photos, I wondered if this could change.  If maybe, I could become more comfortable being in photos.  If maybe, I didn’t have to wait to find the right photographer, or the right setting, or the right light, or the right outfit.  If maybe, I could be the right photographer.  And if maybe, in the process, I too might learn something new about portrait photography.

So, to celebrate and to document this next year, and to stretch myself both as photographer and subject, I am going to work on a self-portrait project.  I am looking for a roughly once-per-week shot, and hope to have something of a catalogue of this year by next September.

Canon 40D 50mm 1.4 lens | aperture 1.6 | shutter speed 1/80 | ISO 640 


    • I love September! Also, this time of year (last part of August, first part of September) is our best, most reliable weather. We finally get summer when everyone else is craving for it to just be DONE already. I feel for you folks, but we are soaking it UP.

      Thank you for the photo compliment. I really debated whether is was right or good enough or something else enough. It will be a good experiment for me. I can tell because it is SCARY. xo

  • Laughter ensued but honestly, sometimes I just give myself credit for making the list, pat myself on the back, and say job well done even if no single item from the list is completed.
    Which reminds me, where did I put my list of things to do before school starts?

    • I think there is something powerful in making the list. We bring our own attention to it, and that can be enough. Regardless, I’m glad you got a chuckle out of it. 😉

    • Oh, thank you for that! The feedback on the superpower question has been surprising and humbling. Another thing to be grateful for – that I am seen and heard and understood in this way. Love!

  • a beautiful way to re-focus your day. It seems to me this years word: focus is beautifully at work and play in your life this year, indeed.

    I value teachers, in all their forms, as well… I adore that you included specifically the ones who bring humility and kindness to “I don’t know.” This is amazing to me, sister. 🙂

    I adore the smell of salt air, and the many gifts and lessons the ocean brings. I feel especially blessed when i can smell the salt air and hot forest floor at the same time. so awesome.

    I love how clearly you stated: “I value my life and the gift it is to have senses, to walk the earth, to feel joy.” I feel blessed to have senses and to feel joy! and to walk the earth when ever i choose. Nanna used to pray aloud everyday ‘the lord leave me my senses’, which i think to her meant her capacity to make empowered decisions and to trust what her senses (not just the five).

    you are amazing.

    and i agree with catherine: forgiveness is a super power you possess!

    love love love

  • Ps. I am really looking forward to hearing more (maybe even seeing more) of you wonderful self-portrait photography. amazing. xo

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