Personal Stories

Ticket To Ride

 A bike sits outside a bicycle shop just off the street in Ridgewood, Queens, New York City.

There is something to be said for the journey. What does it take to get there? And once you are there, can you go further? Can you go faster? Some days are like a slow roll and others the faster the better. Whether the world is passing by in slow motion or whipping by at the speed of light, every mile ticks off important moments in the trip we make around the sun as humans. 

I recently purchased a bike. It is nothing fancy. I hadn't ridden a bike in over 20 years and it was a huge leap for me to get back on. The last time I attempted to ride, I ran over the salesman as I veered in the wrong direction and promptly fell off after slamming into him. 

Nope, not getting back on. Not ever. Or so I said. 

I made excuse after excuse for not getting on a bike that ranged from "my balance is off" to "I'm too old to relearn" to "I simply have not time." 

But I did have time and I definitely wasn't too old. And neither are you. Whether it's getting back on the road and two wheels after 20 years or trying something new at the age of 60 or 80 or more. You are never too old to understand every single moment of the journey is YOUR ticket to ride. It is YOUR ticket to get back on the journey. 

Get your ticket now. 

Survival, Shame, and Creativity

I want you to watch this TED talk by Brene' Brown. It was passed onto me by a friend after talking through my current path of survival before creativity. 

I'm going to tell you something I'm afraid to admit.  I am barely surviving.  Over the past couple months I have placed survival before creativity, before anything else. Survival has been my only speed and I can't seem to slow down and pull myself out of this race. 

 A young man sits on the subway in New York City, showing frustration and anger in his face.

This path of survival over creativity is a path of failure. The path of failure results in shame.

Shame blocks vulnerability. Vulnerability has been the foundation of my work as a photographer and artist. I expect everyone who steps in front of my camera whether it be voluntary or on the street as a stranger, to open themselves to me. I make eye contact, I connect, and a vulnerability is born. It is obvious in my imagery. 

 A man sits inside his shop in Downtown Brooklyn, NYC.

I had a follower send me a message about how they were inspired by my hustle. Thank you, but I don't want you to be inspired by my hustle. Hustle means nothing when the only thing you are doing is hustling. Be inspired by my ability to admit my failure, work through this shame. Because I know you have your own to work through. 

 A homeless man searches through is belongings on a subway in New York City.

I want you to be connected to the vulnerability. I want you to understand that hundreds of people pass these streets, that every moment spent here is fleeting, that nothing will every be the same from minute to minute. 

We have a lot of work to do, you and I.

Let's go.

Showing Up

 Balloons are tied to a sign on the street in Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York City.

Today I am going to talk about friends, family, loved ones, and patrons. Yes, you, the not-so-creative lovers of the arts. This one is for you. 

Creatives need you to show up. That's right. We need you to be there at every show, every event, every talk, every exhibit. We need it like we need air. When full time (or even part-time) creatives such as artists and photographers do what they do it isn't a hobby, it is our lifeblood. We pour every bit of anxiety and angst out into what we do with our craft. 

It's not enough to send a congrats text or comment on Facebook. It is definitely not enough to "like" a photo on Instagram. We need you to be there when we are have an existential crisis and we especially need you there when we hit a milestone. 

Creatives need celebrations too. We need someone to buy us a drink or a cup of coffee, to invite us to dinner. If we say "please come to dinner and celebrate with me" we need you to say yes. 

Showing up means you are there with us in the trenches fighting the good fight. When you hear a creative say "it's no big deal, I'm used to it" that's not a good sign. 

To those who continue to show up in my life. Thank you. You are the source of my energy. 

Show up. That's it. I know it's a big job but I also know you got this. 

A Calm Heart in the Second Act

 The view from a window on a plane at La Guardia Airport in New York City.

I took this while sitting on the tarmac at LaGuardia. Watching the sun rise over the right wing, I retraced my steps to the ride to the airport in the darkened hushed silence. 15 minutes earlier I was standing in the darkness on a curb in Astoria with a heaviness in my gut.

My last day here was spent mostly alone. I woke up late for a Monday, drank coffee, road the subway, walked the streets, and returned at dusk to wander through the neighborhood greeting strangers, looking for the east river, and gathering every last bit of memory to myself I could.

I found myself here, sighing into the condensation of a dirty jet window. Not ready to leave, not ready to stay, but with a calmer heart and mind determined to make the changes I was seeking.