How Images Frame

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“When words become unclear I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ~ Ansel Adams

Meaning “reflection in a mirror”, the word image is early 14th century. The mental sense was in Latin, and appears in English language in the late 14c.

What we see has a profound effect on what we do, how we feel and who we are. Images can be impressive and compelling. They grab our attention. While reading takes work, the brain visually processes much faster.

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Images help educate. They enhance stories. And not surprisingly, vision is the far most active of the senses. Yet, do you intentionally create time to reflect on images and the empathy they can evoke? The teaching moment? Or the underlying sentiment?

When you seek to conjure memories or arouse emotions, do you find it challenging to find descriptive words? Rather than struggle with words, does an image more easily convey feeling, inspiration or thought? There is a reason that we are drawn to the works of photographers, illustrators and painters; there is promise, potential and reality in their renditions.

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Think about it. Would you rather go deaf or blind? To live in silence is difficult but to live in darkness would be devastating. There are messages in images, sometimes deep themes. Just as the adage “Stop and smell the roses” encourages us to pause and appreciate, perhaps some willful breathing space could awaken you to an image’s more nuanced meaning and significance. Just maybe?

When contemplating how you frame images or how images frame your perceptions, considering these points may be helpful:

  1. Images don’t actually change; only what we think about it has. There can be plausible, alternative interpretations.
  2. Be aware of intentional image use in marketing and advertising. The subliminal message may be far from the accompanying, pleasing visual.
  3. Your unique experiences leading up to the moment you encounter an image will shape your appreciation of it. Like what you like, even if you’re not sure why, or can’t put the reason to words.

To close, a warming (perhaps to some) image…

Opening photo: Il cielo in una stanza (2013) credit Loris Rizzi

Missed the Connections

“What if the only resolution you make was to love yourself more?”

~ Cheryl Richardson

Having written my last post on March 15th, I had no idea more than two months would pass before I returned to the blogosphere. This was not an intentional hiatus. It was, in hindsight, a valuable break.

I had the good sense to pause and realize I had stretched myself too thinly across several fronts. I found that I had agreed (with myself) to take on too many concurrent activities and commit to too many deliverables. Some were professionally related; others were personal initiatives. Yet each was worthwhile.

It was, however, time well spent. I did some traveling (which I love), rekindled in-person a lifelong friendship, scrambled to fulfill my Awakening to Awareness radio show obligations, and created private time to deeply reflect and in doing so – realign with what really matters to me. I attended professional conferences, met and befriended some fascinating people, came very close to earning the privilege to travel to and speak in Kuala Lumpur and most importantly, regrounded myself. It was and is all good. It just required giving myself permission to revisit priorities and refresh clarity around my purpose.

I genuinely missed my WordPress community and the connections that have grown out of blogging. I missed reading your creative, inspiring and humorous words. Now I look forward to resuming our mutual sharing of amazing ideas and experiences though my contributions will flow more gradually.

I hope you who read this blog are well and thriving. It’s good to be returning. 🙂

Sometimes, It’s the Little Things

“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel like I’ve known you so many years?” “Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Farenheit 451

Perhaps it was because I was exhausted. Between leaving Los Angeles late yesterday afternoon and arriving home after midnight, I had a lot of time during which I chose to just watch and listen… to random travelers, the sights within airports, the sounds of others voices, and to my heart. Following a good night’s sleep, I retrieved my dogs from the kennel this morning and intentionally, created space to be and play with them before heading off to a business engagement.

This afternoon I reflected on the past several days, during which I was in the amazing company of a Mastermind group to which I belong. And I realized that so many of my recent, conscious experiences (the Mastermind, traveling, random people, my canine companions, etc.) were about relationships. Creating new and growing relationships with people I know and appreciate; introductions and interactions with strangers; fleeting conversations with airplane seatmates and; being reunited with loved sentient beings. All of them related, somehow, to connection.

Many of us, I believe, tend to not always consider life’s weavings as connections. Yet we know the intense feelings of awe, power, and gratitude that we have when we experience nature, our bodies, change, emotions, and responsibilities. Being in relationship awakens us to a willingness to be joyful, in service, supportive, open to learning, inspired, and to the creation of meaning and value in and for all.

Intellectually I get it, yet this intentional pause still wowed me. To know how interconnected we are and how easy it is to relate, impact, and resolve challenges that face us – individually and collectively – was an appreciated humanistic reflection.

I will conclude with three ways to create and/or strengthen a connection, if this is something to which you aspire:

  1. Celebrate each other. Say something kind to another person, whether you know them or not. Nourish the (potentially budding) relationship by letting them how they have affected you – as a friend, a colleague, or even a passing acquaintance. Kind, honest expressions are always appreciated. Be generous with compliments.
  2. Listen carefully. Let people know that their thoughts and feelings are important. Good listening encourages relationship building. Be “present” in conversation and demonstrate a heartfelt desire to understand what is being communicated.
  3. Maintain your Sense of Self. Try to honor your own needs and boundaries so as to sustain your healthy, individual identity. At the same time, don’t be afraid to open up and develop friendships – recognizing knowledge, interests, and experiences that others may want to share with you. Balance your needs with those of the other person.

There are times and experiences when I am grateful for being exhausted. They afford me opportunities to put matters into perspective and appreciate what I’ve seen, heard and recognized. How often do you create these moments?

A Gifting of Values

“There is a strange charm in the hope of a good legacy that wonderfully reduces the sorrow people otherwise may feel of their relatives and friends.” ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Yesterday I beat my chest (a little) about the Baby Boomer (BB) generation. Yet the post’s intent was to highlight personal values and the importance for BB to create and pass on values-based legacies. I mentioned that a follow-on post would provide some legacy ‘prep’ questions. So here we are.

But first, a couple of marketing factoids about the BB cohort. They are the most powerful age segment based size and economic clout. They have more discretionary income than any other group in America. They are not fanatically loyal to brands and they account for 40% of total consumer demand in the U.S. – which equates to estimated annual spending in the US$2 Trillion range. And their wealth has taken a huge hit by a nearly-unprecedented economic downturn.

Yet there were setbacks over the last half-century that BB are responsible for. For instance, the group is frequently said to be too materialistic, egotistical, and overly anxious to assert its philosophies on others. The group is also split regarding social responsibility and generally helping fellow citizens (just look at the U. S. political and wealth divides as cases in point). And, the group has attempted to spread democracy and other distinctly American values on people around the world creating a cultural schism between the U.S. and other countries.

So, yes, I’m not entirely proud of my generation. Still, many of us have worked hard and created a good life for our heirs. Also, many BB have given away sizable portions of their financial gains to charitable/philanthropic causes. In a recent national survey of BB, for the overwhelming majority surveyed, legacy transfer is critically important. Those legacies could include tangible memory captures, personal perspectives on flexible and changing traditions, lessons learned, and the value in contributing to society; things that are worth cataloging, understanding, and appreciating long-term.

For those thinking about what values are important to an impending legacy, the following questions to consider:

  • Are there spiritual stories or events that have had an impact on my life?
  • What family history would I like future generations to remember?
  • What photographs, videos or possessions capture this history?
  • Do I/we have annual family trips, reunions, or gatherings?
  • Is there a specific lesson or teaching I/we want remembered?

It takes reflection to understand what is important in your life and how you might get that message to heirs. But it won’t be a waste of time. Sometimes a scrapbook, family album or audio recording is worth more than an investment portfolio. Values are valued!

A Confluence

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, only how we play the hand.” ~Randy Pausch

Confluence defined: …coming together of people or things.

I experienced a confluence this past week. It was a mix of conversations, observations, social media postings, awareness, prayer and intentional listening.

Yesterday, I created space in which to consider these disparate facets; individually important considerations that had become apparent within such a brief time frame.

What emerged from that reflection was not surprising. However, as an unexpected blessing it was equal parts clarifying, reaffirming, and challenging – as in, get yourself even more focused because you’re on course!

And you are by yourself. You (being me) get to make your choices, navigate your way through unchartered waters and be beholden to no one else for the amazing results that will materialize.

Bye-bye superficial supporters and those who (at their core) are really interested in only their progress and success.

Welcome back to the driver’s seat, friends (my personal gifts, authenticity, and stretch goals). The windshield is crystal clear, the wind is caressing my bald head and I’m heading into what always has been and is intended for me.

Buckle your seat belts, vision and passions. Laugh out loud. We’re back to traveling together. What a fascinating journey we’re continuing…

Thanks, confluence! You’re what we needed.