Space Mountain

For Damary

When I was eight years old, my dad and I stood in line for Space Mountain, at Disney World, for THREE HOURS. I remember the waiting area vividly. All the stars, all the people… We got up to the very point of getting on the ride and I said no. He tried to get me to go, but I was adamant and stood up to my father. I was petrified. So, we walked right out the door and outside.

Thirty years later, I was back at Disney World with the family. This was my “relaxing vacation”, a time to unwind after a bunch of wrenches thrown at me simultaneously. A new furnace, sewer backup and descaling of pipes, new car, new loans, new job, pivoting my business and loads of new responsibilities and to dos that won’t quit and keep getting larger and more frightening… I tried to see this trip as a blessing, to see the world like a kid again, like my nephews and my niece, the magic and all that. I am not a Disney World kind of vacationer, even though I’ve come to love roller coasters. Too people-y. I also do not deal well with other adults’ anxiety. Then I feel bad because I know I don’t deal well with their anxiety. Anxiety creates anxiety.

Families are funny. We may get annoyed with each other, snap sometimes, and then move on five minutes later and it’s all ok. Most of the time we can just accept the quirks that make up the people we love.

It’s so hard to see your parents getting older. Somehow they’re seventy, having trouble walking. Mom has those purple bruises on her hands like Grandma did. When did this happen? Sunrise, sunset.. (I don’t remember growing older-when did they?”) I see it in the kids too. Seems to have happened overnight.

I always remember when my irritations are high that we aren’t going to be together forever and someday I will desire to have them right here, doing whatever they’re doing that’s pissing me off (and I am well aware of my many quirks that bug the hell out of them too). This is my anxiety, my guilt. I am so scared of the thing that will eventually and undoubtedly happen. So, I pray. I pray so much for their health and protection, that we all get to stay together for as long as humanly possible. I’ve had morbid thoughts on this since I was a little kid. Thinking this may be the last time we kiss each other goodbye… It’s just my mind. Anjelah Johnson does a whole skit on this. I fully connect with it. At least someone else gets it. So, turning quirks and acceptance into gratitude is not new to me. Doing this in the middle of a herd in Disney World is another matter.

Then I looked at my phone. My friend called a few times and asked me to call. The next text shook me. A friend of ours had passed away. She didn’t want me to find out on Facebook. There I was, crying at Disney World. Just like the kid next to me crying for not getting what he wants. It’s different but the same, really.

My heart was so heavy, trapped in a swarm of sweaty irritated humans. I had to be present at the same time because my niece ran up to me at that moment all excited about her big debut on stage with Belle. In the midst of shock, heartache, and incomprehension, I knew I had to be present and just be grateful. That’s all we can do.

I knew, in a way, that was honoring her. For all the people who leave us, all we can do to truly honor them is to enjoy, be present, and be grateful.

I thought of my friend’s face. Here was a soul so beautiful, fun, lively- here yesterday and gone today. She was young. I wasn’t even that close to her, but we had JUST had an amazing time out to dinner recently, laughing and sharing stories. My heart went out to my friends, who were family with her, truthfully. Her son. I hated that I was so far away and couldn’t comfort them. I couldn’t wrap my head around this. All she had left to do, to give, to be…

Of course this made me look at my family and just want to hold them all so tightly and never let go.

A work colleague of mine recently lost her sister. She said how hard it was to not have that daily conversation, as she was used to talking with her on the phone everyday. She feels her presence still and sees the signs, the God winks. Those winks speak loudly. She said, “I just need to learn our new language.” I thought that was beautiful.

Where my head went next was all those silly fears I was worried about in my day to day tasks when I got home. All the things I had to do that I was resisting. Being more visible in the business sense. Writing. All of the things. And it all became so stupid and so small. The videos I have to do because my brand expert is making me… became really small when I pictured my friend’s face. Here one minute and gone the next.

I usually thank God for my problems. Because if I have problems, I’m still here and that’s an amazing thing. It puts it all into perspective. I’m no stranger to being slapped in the face with perspective. No one is. Life throws us unfathomable jolts, and we gain perspective. But how long do we hold onto that before we get sucked back into our own little bubble? Our own little world with the problems and narrowed vision?

These jolts tell us we are not invincible. We are not promised tomorrow. I know, I know— we all hear it, we get the quotes, people say it all the time. Yeah, it’s common knowledge. But it doesn’t hit you the same as something like this smacking you in the face.

I am well aware that I take time for granted, knowing this truth that we are not promised tomorrow, thinking somehow that we defy mortality. I think I have all the time in the world to write that book, to do this and that…
I vow to take better care of myself for her. She was so young. What am I doing? I can do better. Why am I the last priority on my list? I won’t take it for granted.

So, thirty years later, my seventy year old dad and I were trying so hard to make Space Mountain happen. It was closed for most of the day. I had no idea when I was young that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime decision. Nearing closing time, it opened up and we darted off to again stand in line and wait. Oh, that waiting room! Vivid detail locked in my memory. As we chatted, I looked at this man, knowing this was the last time he, or I, would be here. I thought of the rest of my family. I was leaving a day earlier than the rest of them, because I was shooting a wedding. The fear that everyone I loved was going to be on the same flight, apart from me, was looming in my mind. I thought of my friend, struggled with a dark scary spiral of thoughts, wanting to hold onto my family as tightly as I can, knowing it’s all out of my control. I remembered the movie Parenthood, when the grandma is talking about how some play it safe with a merry-go-round. Nothing. Boring. The ups and downs of the roller coaster is real life. That is truly living. I prayed a lot that day. I have never been one for God’s will over mine. I’m continuously learning that one and continuously struggling. Why some things work out for some people and don’t for others— I don’t think it’s our place to understand. Just trust. Faith. Let Go and Let God.

The fear and the darkness can really get to you. But, then… it was time. Just as we were stepping to that pivotal point, we had the biggest smiles on our faces, both of us little kids. This is what it’s all about. Getting on the ride and enjoying it while it lasts.

Be grateful. Let Go. Trust.

XO,

Lisa

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The Waiting Period

For years, I have had a day job while running my business at the same time. Most of these jobs clearly did not fit with my values, heart, and desires. With this last job, I prayed about it so much, I think God Himself was sick of my voice. I was sick of my voice. Should I stay or should I go? I had so much fear and felt that I would always be in this trap. I couldn’t see any way out. I now had a house to worry about, with piling bills. My photography business finally had a few years where it could be my sole income. But what about next year? And the next? The expenses for this business surpassed anything I could ever imagine. Three types of insurance, advertising, multiple sites behind the scenes, and all the normal everyday expenses… Y’all, I have to pay for a fake address because I’m online and that’s the way it goes. All those little things add up, and my dream… is extremely expensive- without equipment even involved. As I prayed, I heard nothing. I couldn’t get an answer. I finally got so frustrated, that I found myself praying angrily. “Just PUSH me already. Whatever Your will, just PUSH me.”

My last day at the day job, frustrated with no clear direction or answer, I was sitting at my desk and just kept repeating in my head, “God is for me not against me”, over and over. When I am struggling with trust, that seems to force my mind into it. What happened next was Divine Intervention. The details do not matter here, but I had no choice other than to stand up for myself and leave. I definitely got the push. In one way, I felt such a relief- to finally have an answer. On the other hand, now came the fear. Instability. Full-time entrepreneur. Could I do this? Did I mention that I was supposed to buy a car the next day because mine was kaput?

On my way home, I saw two signs on the side of the road, in front of a house, on a residential street, that had no business being there. The first said “It won’t be long”, and a little way down the other said, “So don’t despair.”

The next day, I was greeted by a cardinal and a blue jay in my backyard, hanging out together. These have always been signs to my family. A blue jay reminds me of my brother. It’s a longer story, which I will probably write about someday. The cardinal, because my grandma had just passed and there’s a thing with cardinals… I felt like they were telling me I was going to be fine. It always feels like a pause. Like they’re telling me I’m on the right track and that they see me. They’re there for what I’m going through. I have never seen cardinals around my house before that day.

These last few years I have had to put so much trust in my faith. It has been a struggle. I’ve grown through some pretty difficult situations. Presently, though, there’s nothing like clearing out your desk, driving home for two hours, and then sitting in the lobby of a dealership with your dad looking at new(er) cars, knowing what that monthly payment is going to be, and you have no steady income coming in for the first time in your life. That is Trust.

ADD IN the class that I NEEDED to turn my business in another direction. I knew that if I didn’t invest in this, I would regret it. Because I did that last year when it was offered. ADD IN household appliances bailing on me, a leaky roof, etc. All of this in mind, my dad and I were laughing and cracking jokes in that lobby. What else can you do but laugh at it all? I’m so grateful for my family. The panic always ceases when I’m around them. After the dealer put in my information, because in his eyes, I was still employed at the day job, I got the car. While he was walking both of us to my new beautiful chariot, he asked me, “Why are you so nervous?” As I was thinking, ‘Because I don’t actually have that job,’ I replied, “Well, it’s just such a big decision!” Side-glance over at my dad.

I have seen amazing things since that time a few months back. Clients hired me with urgent timing, needing a wedding photographer that same month, willing to pay in full. Guys, that just does not happen for weddings and it happened twice that month. People ordered prints from me when they already had the digital images. That never happens, either. A friend of ours sold my old car without me even having to list it. Also, my new pivot in my business gained some hits and gave me hope to continue. I have not only met wonderful women entrepreneurs, I am helping them grow THEIR businesses. I have gained a close friend through this venture, who I believe my soul really needed. None of the things that have happened lately would have happened if I did not quit that horrid day job. I have been the busiest I have ever been in my entire life. Other avenues and side jobs that are in my passion wheelhouse have opened up. Who knows where this road may lead…

I found out that my heartstrings are tied to helping bossladies. Yes, photographing anything, really, but it’s about damn time I start listening to what I really want to do and have faith in myself, and even bigger faith in God. Even writing these little blogs… It feels so good to do this at 2pm by the water. I’ve worked in the lobby of a mechanic (which I would’ve had to take two vacation days for, at a corporate 9-5). I have realized that freedom means more to me than “stability”. “Stability” can be a prison. What if I can actually have the life I’ve always dreamed of? What if?

Since that defining day, I have dealt with more wrenches. I am confronted with more responsibilities, that I have taken on willingly, which I realize means more monthly bills. I am calm. I still have to fight the fear some days. I fight downright panic on some days. But I am reminded that I have overcome obstacles before and I will keep doing it. “Do not fear” is written in the Bible 365 times. One reminder for every day of the year. “I have not given you fear.” I was listening to the radio when they were talking about how worry is actually a sin. That hit home. I never thought of it that way. I come from a long line of worriers. Of all the miracles that I have seen in my life, and there are a ton, that COULD ONLY BE Divine Intervention, why does my trust still waiver? It might be because I trust God but not in my ability to hear Him correctly. I analyze endlessly, scared to trust myself, to make the wrong decision. I love that quote, “God’s Will will happen in spite of you, not because of you.” It just may take a different route to get there. But there will always be essential events and people, whatever route you take, that are necessary for your growth and meaningful to your life.

During that time that this all went down, I entered this piece into ArtPrize. It is called “Politics Erasing / Erasing Politics.” I started it when the politics of our nation turned tumultuous, and at the same time, I was resistant to the corporate world, its confines and limitations. What was happening in my little day to day environment was a sampling of what was happening in society as a whole. When I started, it came from a place of turmoil, anger, and defiance. When I had finally made the decision to fight the fear, go forth as my own boss, and to help other women entrepreneurs, it shifted into an expression of strength and beauty.

Isn’t that always the case? Out of a time of turmoil and chaos comes strength and beauty.

And in the waiting period, is God.

charcoal drawing lisa shaw


Wishing you all a happy holiday season.
Be grateful.
Let your heart be light.
XO,

Lisa

THE Happy Turtle

More lessons learned from the littles in my life. I get pointed messages from my nephews and niece all the time. My teachers have gotten smaller. When I lived in Maui, I had a kumu- teacher- named Uncle Sonny, who was about 70-ish and took me under his wing. So, that one's obvious, but teachers came in all sorts of ways. They were often strangers. People at the bar stool next to me while I was waiting for my friend to get off work. Some lady next to me waiting in line. Some random person I interviewed for the paper. A hoity toity at the gallery says something that she doesn't even know is profound. Sometimes, now, it is in the form of nature, a billboard, or the radio... It's so funny who your teachers are, if you only listen, remain open, and have the ability for introspection. 

We were at Joshie's skating/hockey practice a few weeks back. He just turned 6yrs old. He was in his poofy winter down jacket, with the sewing making horizontal lines across his body, and a bike helmet as the protective shell. He was smiling and just so happy out there on the ice. He reminded me of a cartoon character, or the main character of a children's book. "He looks like a happy turtle," I told my sister. "He does!" She confirmed. Later, when they were trying to skate backwards, all the older kids were flying past him, he was barely moving. He did not care one bit and kept on smiling, excited as all get out, concentrating and laughing in intervals.

                                  THE HAPPY TURTLE

                                  THE HAPPY TURTLE

Fast forward a few weeks. I'd been having a rough time. Projecting into the future for my business, how the field was changing, I was contemplating going in a different direction with it. I called an old mentor whom I admire and received an extremely negativite outlook instead of hope for this field that I have chosen. 

Not only that, but that deep dark spiral had already set in. When I go down this road of trying to get a clear path in my head, I tend to analyze every area of my life, and at that moment it was not shaping up as I imagined it would by this point. The day job, personal endeavors, artistic endeavors, goals, aspirations, wanderlust, even relationships (which I always forget about until my extended family asks me. "Oh yeah, I have to put that on the list too"... I am still fighting that battle of yearning for freedom, adventures, my own dreams and ambitions, and the other side- intimacy, comfort, and family. This struggle gets dusted off, then sits on the shelf again, then drops in my face again, in a viscious distorted cycle. Most people know for sure one way or the other. I just wish I had about twenty more years on this bastard of a clock). It was just one of those times. They happen. I can look back on how far I have come, what I have accomplished, the crazy, amazing adventures I've had, all the wonderful people in all the chapters of my life, even old passions that I've pursued in the past that I don't currently that made me ME... Even though I can see all of this and be truly grateful, and proud, still, those days, the dark spriral, they will still happen. I know this. Sneaky bastards.

After that phone call, I leaned my head back and just thought to myself, "Why did I pick this field"? Why am I doing all of this, spending so much energy, and putting so much into all of this? Even things like just writing this blog... Images of my high school counselors warning me to go for something else popped in my head. I opened my eyes and saw the shimmering leaves above my head in my backyard, with the prettiest golden sunset backlighting them. And I thought, "because I see the beauty in the world. I see things that others don't. And I want to share that. That is all." I smiled. 

The Happy Turtle came to mind just then. Why can't I be The Happy Turtle? Who cares how slowly I'm going? At least I'm doing it. All the things. I'm still doing them... I complained to my mother once that having too many passions is a curse and I have a hard time seeing it as a blessing. There's never enough time to actually DO all of the things. You can't really excel or find "success" at any one of them when you are so spread out. What if I never get anywhere "REAL" with any of these things? "When you’re doing them, do they make you happy?" "Yeah." Point taken. Why can't that be enough? It should be enough, right?

Once you hit a goal, there will always be more. Always more striving. Where I am now in my own business- I longed for this a few years back. Mark Manson says the striving is where happiness lies. I can see that. The process is the thing, not the result. The motivation, the inspiration, the expression, the action. I also love his words on "mediocrity". Creatives put so much damn pressure on ourselves. Meaning, purpose, worldy change!, leaving your mark, helping others, making a difference...  It's all so fucking heavy. Having this conversation with a friend who is left-brained, an engineer, I asked her if she does this to herself. "No. I work to pay bills. I do that to love up on my kids and enjoy the lake on the weekends." Period. Wow. I was so jealous for that simplicity. I am a different breed, and it's inevitable to feel low when you have more and more goals than you could possibly ever achieve. (And on another level, when you have kids, BAM! You automatically have purpose, meaning; you are making a difference. So, that definitely is part of the psychological onion for me.) But Manson made me think when he talked about the idea that most people in the world are "mediocre," by our crazy ass standards, when you think about it. He asks if that means that for MOST of the people who have ever lived-- that their lives didn't matter? Huh. Is Mark Manson giving me permission to calm the fuck down? I'll take that.   

So, this post is automatically scheduled to come out on my birthday. I never work on my birthday. I will be at the beach before any evening plans take way. On my birthday, every year, I immerse myself in nature. Water, green luscious scenery, and I get lost in just being a human, grateful for the beauty. "Just be". For a short amount of time, I am no one’s daughter, sister, aunt, friend, girlfriend, coworker, boss lady... I’m just me. Feeling the wind, smelling the smells, taking in the wonder and awe of it all. I don't give a shit about accomplishments or how productive I'm being. I try to turn the creative brain off. It's tough. (Even when I take vacations, I am now thinking about how I could turn it into a travel article, with photos.. So, how is that time off, really?)

I used to do this so easily in Maui. I mean, how could you not? The simplicity of happiness. I was so relieved to find folks who also did not agree with "You are what you do". No one buys that shit there. They don't even buy that you are a "mother", "wife", "girlfriend", whatever, as your identity. Such a different, wonderful, peaceful mindset over there. I told myself that I would keep this mindset when I moved back. "Across the Universe," by The Beatles, was playing as I made this vow. "Nothing's gonna change my world"... Being back in the midwest, I can't help but feel that while my heart fully resonates with "You are NOT what you do", my ambitions are contradictory and will take on society's logic- that I don't even agree with! But, then again, I actually WANT to do all of the things. I loaded my plate because I want them all. I am the crazy hoarder at the buffet, where my eyes are bigger than my stomach, because I am a mere human. I cannot have it all. I have to choose. The Choosing, I would say, is my nemesis.

So many articles tell us to schedule time to do nothing. We get a few hours a week (if you're lucky)? We wait for vacations and are happy with a couple weeks a year? Even two days, out of seven, a week (which we have personal chores and domestic duties)..? That's some bullshit. Who made these shitty ass rules? That is just not humane. That's not going to be good enough for me this year. I don't want to have to REMIND myself to JUST BE. I don't need permission. I will not feel guilty. I give myself full permission to JUST BE, for a fair amount, every day. I already go radio silent for days at a time. No social media. No more consuming. No more information. No more classes on this, that, and the other. No more podcasts or self-improvement. Take a mental break. I started meditating on my lunch break, which to me, at the beginning stage, means shutting everything down in my brain and listening to the birds, feeling the grass, the wind...

A while back, I heard an older man talking about his walks around his neighborhood in the fall, how beautiful it was and how much he loved it. He was pondering about how many more autumns he thinks he has left. He decided it had to be around seven. Holy shit, that gave me some perspective.

I will make more time to just enjoy. That's a damn good purpose too. Not everyone can do it, either. What if that is The Meaning? And by example, you show others how to do the same? That is the difference that you can make. 

This Happy Turtle is loving life.

Keep It Simple,

Lisa
 

Lisasophy

There’s a lot to say about silence.

Big Sisters Are Jerks

My big sis is turning 40.  No idea how we got to this point. Our parents were having "Over the Hill" parties at Camp Dearborn, like, yesterday. How are we are there already?

So, upon wrapping her gift, I started reminiscing. By the way, I am so proud of this gift! It had to be good for the big 40. I got her something for every decade that had a part in her big 40 years.
--70's- cool sunglasses that are the size of my face.
--80's- We used to fight over this one mixed cassette tape. I ended up with it somehow, and her old tape player. 
-- 90's- some of her favorite movies from that era. (Side note: "She's All That" is still a bunch of bullhonkey. You put glasses on a beautiful girl and she's supposed to be the ugly duckling. Cray-cray. We always teased her about that one, but she loves it.)
--2000's- a Life photo book on how that decade changed the world.
--2010's - leggings (because I honestly believe that they are the best thing from this decade).

So, going through all those cassette tapes, I remembered when we were moody teenagers escaping into our deep dark selves just listening to music with candles and shit. (Remember Shakespeare's Sister's "Stay"?) Oh my, memory lane. 

So much time spent on feelings feelings feelings! At times, pining over someone stupid, yes. Big sisters are jerks. You are figuring out your newly growing interests in the opposite sex- more so than the previous Kirk Cameron or New Kid- and a big sis is your biggest bully. You then realize that's never going to change. Your biggest bully is going to be with you your whole life. The only bad thing about someone knowing every single thing about you is that there is someone that knows Every Single Thing About You. (And that Kirk Cameron poster would always fall in the middle of the night and scare the shit outta me. Do you remember his best friend was "Boner"? I feel like that wouldn't fly today). The pre-teen years came with some real winners for me. "I'll never find someone like William Baldwin from Backdraft!" Then came Ross, from Friends. She'll remind me of it for the rest of my life. Then came the serious real-person crushes in high school that were an advanced heartbreak. One dude that I crushed on had this model girlfriend the entire four years. I remember her laughing at my pain. What an asshole. ;)

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I call this her "Ronald McDonald Hair Phase"

I call this her "Ronald McDonald Hair Phase"

However, if someone were to really hurt me, I do believe she would cut a bitch. She always has my back. That's the thing about big sisters. That love-hate contradiction starts when you're toddlers and carries through well into adulthood. I believe older siblings teach us humility, resilience, how to laugh at ourselves (because they already are laughing at us anyway), and how to stick up for yourself when it really comes to that. They designed the crazy line- when people finally cross it and you get to go haywire. They teach you to toughen up-- 'cause it gets a lot worse! Ha! There will be bigger, darker difficulties to overcome. We are better equipped to  deal with those difficulties because of these bullies. (Note: I am not advocating for bullying here. I am very anti-bully. I do believe it’s a different matter in reference to siblings.)

My sister and I have this thing with ninjas. We started this when we were each going through arduous hardships with other people, realizing that our circles needed to be a bit pruned. They remind us that no matter what, we have each other's backs. We don't live super close to each other, so it's a symbol for cutting negativity out of your mind, out of your life. I keep a tiny ninja figurine in my purse. Just seeing it when I'm dealing with an idiot, makes me smile and  helps in detaching from that person's behavior. I also imagine us drop-kicking the doof. 

(Speaking of toys in my purse, my nephew gave me a figurine too, and so did my friend's little boy. Some dude saw these in my purse the other day and asked if I have kids. "No." From the stink-eye he gave me, he totally thought I was a creeper. Looking back, I probably should've explained. I'm a fricking busy woman. Oh well.)

I still have celebrity crushes. Lately, it's been Phil Dunphy. I don't care what you people say. That guy's awesome.

Happy Birthday, sis. You're still my favorite person to tell stupid Lisa stories to...

Have a Silly Monday,
Lisa