Silent Snapshots

The Quiet Blogger: Day 1

Can I tell you a secret?

  

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve changed my phone number … and my legal name.  

I’ve registered a new web domain, taken ((my own!)) professional headshot, and spent a lot of time brainstorming, scribbling, explaining and dreaming.

Let’s just say that there are **a lot** of changes in the works for me.  And they’re good … (Yes, I am still married. No, I’m not running from the law.)  … But change is also a little exhausting, too.  Anyone who’s ever built something from scratch — or re-built something — knows what I mean.

I’ve got a lot of voices in my head, and the truth is … I need some quiet.

So I’m giving myself a challenge:  every day for the next ten days, I’ll post a single, wordless photo in this space … one that I believe reflects quiet beauty.

This means no writing…

No quoting…

No words to speak of.

Just images, speaking softly, the way gentle images do.

For most of those ten days, I’ll be in southern Florida, drinking in the light, clearing the cobwebs from my head and making space for what’s next.

I may be quiet during this time, but please know:  I am thinking of you. ❤

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Confessional

Ask me anything …

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Can I tell you a secret?  It’s weird, keeping a blog.  I post photographs and snippets of poetry — sometimes shamelessly personal prose.  I dream in blazing black-and-white, and then I come here and splash those dreams on the screen.  Still, though …  There’s so very little you know about me.  

And you know what else?  There’s probably even less I know about you.

So today I thought we’d try to change that.

*

My proposal is this: ask me anything.  Pose whatever question you’d like in the comment section — whether it’s serious or silly, profound or profoundly mundane — and I’ll try to answer it, either there or in a separate post.  In exchange, all I ask is that you reveal something interesting about you. 

(Think of it as a meeting of new friends around a big, round table.  Imagine there’s coffee.  Or a bottle of your favorite wine.)

As always, I reserve the right to delete any comment that makes me uncomfortable.  That said, I’ll sincerely try to meet whatever genuine and thoughtful question you throw at me… whether I get two questions, or twenty.

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Cheers, friends… Here’s to many sweet conversations to come. ❤

 

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Wordless Wednesday

Say nothing …

Today.

Home.

*

I spent the weekend in a little cabin in the woods.  There was firelight.  There were books.  There was wine and good food, and better company.  

I walked in a woods dusted with snowflakes, over a carpet of furry wet ferns.

I rested.

And I come away from that time with a renewed respect for silence — for sitting still and making space for the magic.

In response to that, I’ll be implementing a new feature here on the blog:  Wordless Wednesdays.  If you’re a reader who’s new to WordPress, please know that I’m not the first to come up with the idea; in fact, there are many great bloggers sharing beautiful images, sans explanation, at the midpoint of every week.  But the photos I post here will be (as always) my own.  

I’ll try to share shots that strike me as provocative, but which I can’t yet pin down into language (and maybe I don’t want to).  If you’d like to respond to them or build on them in some way, feel free to do so in the comments section.  Or don’t…

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Either way, I hope you find space to take a breath and drink in some wonder. ❤

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best of alpha // whiskey // foxtrot

2015, in Five Favorite Posts: a Year in Review

Moment of honesty?  For me, 2015 was a disorienting 365 days — full of deep heartache and astounding joy…

I lost.

I lost a lot.

I lost relationships and social circles and beliefs I thought I was destined to keep, and yet somehow, I gained a hundred times that in new friends, new opportunities, rich community, and more goodness and grace than I could have imagined, twelve months ago.

{And maybe I’ll tell you about it someday, but for now … this is enough.}

In the end, all I can say is this:  2015 was sometimes kinda terrifying … and also, it was breathtakingly beautiful.  And I think the tension between the hard and the beautiful shows in my writing.

I’ve spent this first week of 2016 in quiet reflection, and it seemed right to me to distill all my 2015 journal entries into a brief “Best Of” list.  If I had salvage just five little scribblings from the previous year, these are the ones I’d choose:

1.  The Day the Light Overtakes Me

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Last October, WordPress surprised me by selecting this personal essay for its Freshly Pressed lineup.  No one ever told me that this (very personal) post would be hitting the big-time; all I knew was that, one afternoon, my stats spiked like never before, and a quiet little blog that had previously seen a few thousand readers per year was now attracting about a gazillion readers per day.

(Clearly, gazillion is an exact number.) 

All kidding aside:  the unexpected attention completely freaked me out.  I felt exposed and vulnerable in ways I hadn’t before … but in the end, it was good for me.

I’m enjoying a return to normalcy these days, but the five minutes of fame (sort-of) was a solid exercise in self-confidence and stamina in the spotlight, and I’m grateful.

2.  Oh, God, give me the words

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I’m still a little startled by how deeply people connected with this little poem, which I composed in about ten minutes of tinkering in front of the screen.  I received some truly touching e-mails from readers after posting it, and it’s my pleasure to share it again.

3.  On Shadow & Light, Sunshine & Silhouettes… & Seeing My Own Magic

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Sometimes, it’s the little moments…  This post is small, but it’s important.

4.  Sleepless, Under Shooting Stars

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I circle back to this diary entry once in awhile, if only to let its magic rub off on me all over again.  Here’s to sparkle, spirit, and everyday wonder… Raise a glass of stardust with me, friends.

5.  When Eating a Peach is an Act of Transcendence 

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I won’t say another word.  Just read.

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And last but not least: If you’re a woman and you’ve ever struggled with insecurity and negative self-image, please, please, please, check out my photography series Same Body, Second Glance:  A Body-Image Project.  The forty days I spent compiling these images changed my life, in deep and profound ways… And then, when I shared them on my blog last spring, they changed my life all over again.

Who knows?  Maybe they’ll change you, too.

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*

Thank you — sincerely — to all the sweet loyal readers who helped make my 2015 so beautiful in the midst of the hardship. I’m believing we all have some very special days ahead. ❤    

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What Happens Next

The truth behind the quiet …

If you’ve been reading my words for awhile, you may have noticed a quiet here, building.  It’s not that I haven’t been posting; it’s just that I haven’t been saying very much.

This is a tell:  it’s something I always do before I’m about to speak.  

… A little intake of breath, I suppose.

*

Tomorrow, I’m going to reveal a new project to you.  It’s a simple one, but like all of my projects, it’s going to require some vulnerability from me.

Honest words?  Sharing myself in this space — my body and my story — has always been hard for me, but it’s been a little harder than usual lately.  There are more readers here than there used to be, and in recent months, a few of them have paid me more attention than I was entirely comfortable with.  It’s taken me a little while to get my head around that, to figure out how to manage it, and to decide, at last, not to let it silence me.

Because if I’ve learned anything from my little blog, it’s this:

The place just outside of my comfort zone?  That’s where the magic happens.

*

So.  If you stop by tomorrow night, I’ll be talking about what’s next and about why it’s so important to me.

And maybe we can make a little magic together…

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See you then. ❤

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Thoughts in Progress

Let’s talk …

Last week, quietly and without much fanfare, alpha // whiskey // foxtrot surpassed a milestone that still blows my mind a little bit:  by my latest check, I’ve got 1,066 followers and counting.

I’ll be honest:  this is both wonderful and a little unsettling.  Most days, I envision myself writing to about as many friends as I can fit around my dining room table. There’s a cozy envelope of good wine and candlelight-gleam and flickering shadow, and if I decide to tell a story, I’m leaning on some friend’s shoulder while my favorite jazz fills up all the empty space in the background … Safe.

All that to say:  if this space feels intimate to you, it’s at least partially because I view the writing process as intimate.  And so I’m still getting my head around what it means to be intimate in a space that feels a little bit less intimate all the time.

Which isn’t a bad thing — just different.

But maybe we can make this space feel more personal, even if there’s slightly less elbow room at the table than there used to be.  Which is why I thought I’d share a few basic things about myself that are important for you to know, if you’re new here:

 1.  I’m all about the beauty — and I mean that.

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Most humans need food, water, shelter and warmth.   I need those things, too … And I need beauty.

I need green leaves, moonwashed night skies, the electric hum of the city sparking to life in the dark.

I need photographs and paintings, dancing slippers and drawing pads.

And I guess I don’t need a vintage Victrola, but I sure would like one. (Anybody?)

All that to say:  keeping a blog offers me the space to make beauty, even — and especially — when it’s hard for me to find it out in the world.

2.  I’ve been married for more than nine years to this guy:

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T is the stable voice of reason to my gushy creative chatter:  the guy who pulls me out of the middle of the street when I’m standing there transfixed with my camera, shooting birds on rooftops while a car threatens to run me down.  (And yes, that’s actually happened.)

He’s the patient one who just sighs and turns over in his sleep when I get out of bed to get an idea on paper — again.

I’m crazy-lucky.

3.  I’ve been recovered from anorexia for more than a decade, and I feel crazy-lucky about that, too.

I’m long past the days when I worked to stay healthy.  Now, I get to work to be happy:  to live joyfully in my own skin.  To go easy on myself.  To love well.

It’s still hard sometimes.  But mostly, it’s kinda beautiful.

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4.  I’m an ENFP, and an Enneagram Type 4... a deeply creative, meditative and introspective person with a surprisingly sparkly social persona.  If you really want to know me better, go ahead and click those links — In spite of the tension that seems to exist between these descriptions, I’m about as textbook as they come.

So.  If you’re new here — what about you?  What makes you hum and glow?  Who keeps you grounded — or pushes you out from the dock?

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I’d love to get to know you better, too. ❤

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Confessional

I am going to tell you a secret now …

At least once a week, some kind, well-meaning person asks me when I am going to write a book.  And inside, where you can’t see it, I flinch.

Now, the Current Me, the one you can see standing in front of you — she doesn’t flinch.  She stands there with her smooth face and her smile, and she says thank you, she is flattered, and it’s true … I am.

But the Old Me — the smaller, hollow-eyed version of myself who still lives inside me someplace — that version cringes and looks away, and mumbles something nobody can understand.

I don’t always like to talk about the reason why, but I’m going to.  And I’m going to do it now.

*

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A few years ago, I wrote a book — or at least a draft of one.  It was a book about my recovery from anorexia — which is the subject most people want me to say I’m writing about, when they ask me if I’m writing a book.

Like most good first drafts, this one was messy and imperfect, but it was truthful.  It was truthful enough to be the kind of thing that would make you sit up, startled, and shut your mouth.

And then I started editing the draft.

And suddenly it felt like I’d opened up a box of darkness inside my house, and the darkness filled up all the rooms and smeared its gray over the windows so I couldn’t see out.  I’d thought that the darkness was something I’d managed to contain a long time ago, but there it was, That Old Darkness, crashing around the bedroom in the middle of the night.

So I cut out words.

I cut out paragraphs, pages, chapters.

I scribbled the outline onto index cards and laid them all over the tables and floor, trying to figure out where the darkness was lurking so that I might excise it from the text.

And eventually, I figured out that the darkness was everywhere — in the editing process itself.

The same perfectionism that once had driven me to starve myself was now sitting there at the desk with me, wielding the red pencil — only the pencil looked like a knife.

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I threw the book away.

*

If you’ve ever been in a 100-level creative writing class, you’ve probably heard some adjunct professor tell you to “write what you know.”

Which is good advice, to a point.

But I’ll tell you something that smart writers understand — something they know but don’t like to talk about.

Writing about the past, and especially any part of the past that’s deeply important to you?  I mean deeply, viscerally important? That is a dangerous business.

*

I told you last week that during the month of November, I was going to begin writing once again about my body — its frailty and strength.  Its astounding possibilities.

I was serious about that.

But you know what I won’t be writing about?

My eating disorder.

There are a lot of excellent anorexia memoirs out there, chronicling all the reasons why women (and men) make themselves small.  Why they choose for themselves that strange and deft disappearing act: now you see her, now you don’t.

As for me, though, I don’t want to go back to that old subject right now — the darkness and starvation and drought.

But you know what I do want to write about?

I want to write about the joy of living in this fragile suit of skin.  I want to go out and feel the wind in my hair and the chill on my cheeks — all the small capillaries blooming into a blush — and I want to tell you what that feels like.

I want to photograph myself half-asleep in the sun, drowsing, the yellow light warm on my eyelids.

I want to show you what it looks like to curl my fingers around a smooth river stone, or to touch a birch leaf to my lips, its skin speckled with autumn red.

I want to celebrate myself and sing myself — this Body Electric.  And if that’s something you’d like to read about … well, then, you’ll know where to find me.

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Let’s celebrate something beautiful together.

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