The theme of 2017 was glory; the beautification process of shedding my old skin and walking in my fresh new kicks. It was messy and beautiful all in one go. Most of 2017 was me being a tourist or tour guide, which I always thoroughly enjoy. I got to go back to places once called home, show others around, and explore new places. Thanks friends and fam for another adventurous journey and helping me feel less alone on this wee globe.
Goodbye land of convenience where there are warm toilet seats so my bum never gets a chill, toilets that flush by themselves and sing you a wee tune while you do your business, vending machines literally at ever corner (whether it be located next to a sugar cane field or bar), baskets for your purses and coats next to ever table, a container for anything and everything.
Goodbye machine that pours your beer with thee perfect amount of foam; by mimicking how one should hold and pour beer over a tab, plastic bags made specifically for your freshly rain soaked umbrella and 7/11’s with everything imaginable at every street corner: t-shirt, coffee, late night snack. Someone I met on my trip said it well, "the Japanese think of everything you would need, before you even realize you need it."
I feel like Tom Cruise explained Japan well in the Last Samurai "Everyone is polite. Everyone smiles and bows. But beneath their deep courtesy, I detect a deep reservior of feeling. They are an intriguing people. From the moment they wake, they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline. I am surprised to learn the word samurai means to serve."
Until we meet again Japan, the place of my childhood.
The second part of my trip to Japan was spent in Okinawa and some of its islands: Miyako and Ishigaki. Unfortunately me and one of the other girls got sick and we followed a typhoon a bit of the ways, but that did not keep us away from the beach or exploring. Our first night we stayed in beautiful private villas on a secluded part of Okinawa, in Miyako we stayed in a traditional Okinawan style home, and hotels the other evenings.
I got the amazing opportunity to go back to my childhood home to celebrate my sister's birthday. This truly was a trip of a lifetime! Last year my sister and I talked about this happening, dreamed up many places to go and after settling on Japan, we decided on Bali too. But then, to our dismay, we got news the volcano on Bali was erupting. We quickly changed plans, once again, and headed to Okinawa and its' surrounding islands. I did not know if this trip would/could happen, but it did and I am so grateful!
While in Japan I was getting all the feels: it felt SO familiar, yet at the same time so distant, like a childhood friend that you grew up going to their house almost everyday and have not seen in years. Over the course of the first few days I realized why! I am a different person walking on familiar lands. Such a bizarre feeling, yet at the same time a call to a huge challenge. How do I walk in these "new shoes?"
On a more personal note: the day after I arrived in Japan I got to teach art therapy! Made my heart so happy! Meeting new and old friends was a blessing too. I love hearing people's hearts and what makes them tick. Lately I have really enjoyed connecting friends. Please check out my friends and their work below:
Been learning lately about what it means to be a mentor/leader. Two years ago Jaymi helped me learn some portrait techniques. Here's what we came up with. Check out Jaymi's work y'all she is amazing! http://brittenphoto.com And go find a mentor or be a mentor. If you are good at something empower the next generation! You will learn a lot in the process and so will they. If you can't mentor than ask someone else to mentor you. I guarentee it will change your life.
Some more film photos for y'all. There is something about black and white film. I remember my first time stepping into a darkroom and falling in love with it. Processing photos on a computer is so different than being in a darkroom. Our generation, I feel, has literally lost touch of things. Everything is becoming virtual. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel it blurs the lines of what is real and what isn't real. It can get confusing. Anyone else out there feel the same? It is kind of frightening to be honest. I think any artist can agree with me, in that, there is something so magical about creating something with ones hands. Your own two hands. It is like magic. Something being birthed out nothing, your baby, your creation.
I never thought I would say this, but I am missing city life. The hustle, bustle, honking horns, and especially riding my bike all over town. Tel-Aviv, you won me over. Here are some film photos I took with expired film of all my regular stops/walks/life in general: Shuk Ha'Carmel, the park by my home, and bus rides + reflections. Until we meet again.
Day three we drove down to Wadi Rum. We took a wee camel ride out to a tent in the desert filled with people and tea. Then jumped in a jeep and drove around the desert stopping at all the famous sites (mostly Lawrence of Arabia stuff). The views were breathtaking. Close to sunset we arrived at our final destination: our "cave" for the evening. Our tour guide made us a lovely buried dinner (chicken, vegetables, and rice) and sang us traditional songs around a campfire. We slept literally under the stars in the middle of the desert that evening. Also unforgettable!
I wondered why my heart was longing for the desert before, while, and after I visited. Pondering these thoughts, with the help of friends, I realized the desert is a vulnerable, lonely, life or death, spiritual, harsh, quiet place. At that time I needed all those things. My intuition was right in guiding me there at that particular time. I needed time alone, in silence to meditate on what my heart was saying to me. If you have not gone to the desert, go! There is something so special about it! While you're at it, read the Alchemist too!
I recently read The Alchemist, again. While reading, I kept thinking, "I have to go to the desert!" So I did. Three glorious nights and four days of pure red sands. First day of arrival my friend and I picked up our rental car and headed straight for our bedouin camp in Little Petra. Shortly after arriving we headed straight to Petra by Night. If this is not on your bucket list, add it! I still cannot articulate just how magical this experience was. Let's just say if a guy were to purpose to me right then and there I would have married that fool. Seriously, unlike anything I have ever experienced before!
Day two we hiked all around Petra. Let's just say it was h-o-t. Stopped and had tea a couple of times and made friends along the way.
It has been so life giving to have friends from all over the globe visit! Michaela and I were roomies in Israel and she came for a wee visit this past week. Yesterday we went to Wonderspaces, a traveling exhibit currently in San Diego. I highly recommend it if you haven't had the chance to go yet. WOW, is all I can say. My brain and eyes needed a little bit of reality after for a bit, but man it was worth it!
Check out the wonderspaces site to see and learn more https://www.wonderspaces.com
Cristian, Savannah and Emmanuel came to visit last week. What a treat! Savannah and I traveled the world together with a group of other lovely ladies doing photo documentary work. Cristian and I used to hang out in my early years of college. I did their engagement photos at Leo Carillo Ranch a couple of years ago and last week I got to do family photos for them in the same spot. Check 'em out.
I have been living in Tel Aviv almost eight months now. Here are some photos I took a couple of months ago walking around the city. If you want to see 3 of them in print go to the Prima Hotel, 105 HaYarkon Street, Tel Aviv from 0900-2200 until July 2017.
I have known Jack now for nine years! I had the privilege of getting to know Rawan, his wife, last year while I lived in Haifa. She is a lovely human being full of grace and beauty. I had so much fun taking photos of their wedding and celebrating their union! I feel so blessed to have friendships like this one: where time somehow stands still, yet we as individuals continue to progress. It blows my mind. Jack and I met in a different country (N.Ireland) and are still the same people, just a wee bit more grown. Life's journey is amazing. Enough of my rambling. Here is there beautiful wedding.
Wow. Where do I start? 2-0-1-6 you were a year for the records.
I lived in Haifa half the year, then Tel Aviv for the other half. I dug deep into my emotional health in ways I have never done before and really came to own art therapy as my calling. 2016 health wise, was not the best. Let's just say my health went majorly down hill towards the end of the year: we're talking 90 degree, San Francisco downhill. Yet amidst all the suffering, pain, grievances I find myself experiencing J-O-Y in a way I have never known and sympathizing/empathizing in a way I could not have done before. Thankful 2016 is over, yet looking back, I can say I am overall humbled and grateful. I ate some really good food in 2016 (and continue to do so), met some really rad people, had thee best roommates, and I grew quite a bit.
In March a friend and I worked on a project together
In April some friends and I rented a car and drove all around Israel. The diverse landscape here blows my mind.
In July I went home for a wee bit
I had a long layover in Madrid on the way back to Israel and decided to go explore.
Day Trip to Akko
A few months after I was back in Israel I moved to Tel Aviv
In October, a good friend, Layla, came to visit from Japan.
November was the start of my health decline
Jack and Rawan's wedding
Damon and Tiffany's lovely Sacramento wedding.
Post-graduation the hunger pangs for making art are no joke.
I miss art SO much. Knowing that a sea of ideas cannot come into fruition, frankly because there literally is not enough time, hurts. I feel like a piece of my soul has died.
In a vain attempt to VIVA LA ART. I have decided to tell more of my stories. My heart and mind have so many stories that have not been shared with the world. So world, here we go. Here are my stories (+ photos) from the last 6 plus years of my life.
I R E LA N D
I never had any desire to go to Ireland. But I am so glad I did go. Can a continent become like a friend? If so, Ireland has become a dear friend of mine. I have visited twice since living there in 2008. The second time I visited I learned how to drive a manual, just a mere week before arriving, and drove around Irelands windy roads (sometimes 10 plus hours a day.)
Some may say learning to drive a manual in a week and then proceeding to drive round the whole island is bravery. But isn't bravery simply facing challenges like you know you have to? With mother's day quickly approaching, I think of all the Mom's out there who made sacrifices for their kids, because they had to. To me that is bravery. Laying down your life for others takes a great amount of courage. Happy Mother's Day to all you Mom's out there! Thanks for all your sacrifices, both big and small! Thanks for being brave.
Here are some photos of my manual road trip. Grateful I got to see parts of Ireland I never got to experience the first time around.
There's something nostalgic about black and white film. I feel like it's like watching an old western film. It takes you back to the glory days. LOL. Missing film today: the smell of chemicals, the red lights, and the slowness of producing a perfect print. P e r f e c t i o n. Here are some film photos I took while in South Africa last year.
Spring Song by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Hark, I hear a robin calling!
List, the wind is from the south!
And the orchard-bloom is falling
Sweet as kisses on the mouth.
In the dreamy vale of beeches
Fair and faint is woven mist,
And the river's orient reaches
Are the palest amethyst.
Every limpid brook is singing
Of the lure of April days;
Every piney glen is ringing
With the maddest roundelays.
Come and let us seek together
Springtime lore of daffodils,
Giving to the golden weather
Greeting on the sun-warm hills.
Ours shall be the moonrise stealing
Through the birches ivory-white;
Ours shall be the mystic healing
Of the velvet-footed night.
Ours shall be the gypsy winding
Of the path with violets blue,
Ours at last the wizard finding
Of the land where dreams come true.
A little over a year ago I had the great privilege to fly to South Africa and photograph Nosipho and Siyanda's wedding. It was a blessing to be a part of their big day. The heart and soul of their community was beautiful to witness, everyone helped in making the wedding extra special. Water went out the night before and the day of the wedding, yet people remained in good spirits for a celebration was to be had. Happy one year Nosi and Siyanda!
I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone by! SO much to be grateful for: I graduated from college this year, had a senior show, and went to some amazing places (old and new). My parents got to see some of my favorite places in Ireland. Once upon a time I lived there. Crazy. I made it through college debt free, barely making it through finals with a horrible cold (I seriously thought I had strep). In February I went to South Africa and got to take wedding photos for my dear friends Nosipho and Siyanda.
God has been so faithful to me. This year I have cried a couple of times in realization that I do not deserve all these things. It has not been all sunshine and rainbows this year. In hindsight I definitely had some moments in my college years where I was sure I was not going to make it. Starving artist is a real thing. Below are some photos of my year. Thanks to everyone who was a part of it. Family, friends, peers, teachers you guys helped me be a better me this year. Most of all I thank God for getting me through college, financial circumstances, and for constantly blessing me beyond what I deserve. Here is to 2015!
p.s. Most of the photos are from my sisters instagram. You can follow her here: http://instagram.com/___bvb___/