Summer and its unforeseen events demanded I take a hiatus. From a lot of things. In both the personal and professional realms. And my blog suffered because of it. But autumn and all its golden glory blew in this past week – the temperatures dropped, the aspens peaked, and the hot air balloons are aloft each day, floating above Albuquerque. It feels good to be moving into a new season, and I welcome it.
But on the fall equinox, we received news a place very special to our hearts will also be experiencing a transition: Cow Creek Ranch, which I filmed for New Mexico True Television (and whose episode just earned us our third Regional Emmy® Award!) is up for sale. Lanier and Mike, who managed the ranch, are looking to the next chapter of their lives. This husband and wife duo guided us through a range of activities the ranch provided – horseback riding, fly fishing, archery, skeet shooting, and games of horseshoes at the water’s edge. It was like summer camp - but better. And after featuring Cow Creek in NM True, it instantly found its place on my bucket list of locations to return to when not working.
I booked the owner’s cabin at Cow Creek Ranch for my partner Steve’s 50th birthday last year. He was not in the mood to celebrate his milestone year with the masses, so we went fully off grid where we could indulge in peace and quiet, and he could do nothing but fly fish for hours on end. Along with a book and my mountain bike, I took my video camera to keep myself occupied while he fished the multiple ponds and streams that run through this mountain valley. All in all, it was pretty dreamy.
After reading Lanier’s email disclosing the news, I sat down at my computer and began to edit the footage I filmed last summer, creating a sort of video diary of our weekend at Cow Creek (click the thumbnail to your left to play). This video is quite a contrast from Cow Creek’s segment in our television program. It shows how differently you can experience a place. In filming for NM True, we had a fun, lively, and activity-filled weekend. When I returned with Steve, I was able to immerse myself in its quiet beauty, and nature spoke to me in a different way.
A little more than a year later, it saddens me to think it may have been our last time there, though I really hope this is not the case. While I do not know what awaits this magical property nestled deep within the Pecos Wilderness, I feel grateful to have experienced it while Lanier and Mike had it under their care.
And it serves as a reminder – a lesson – to prioritize the bucket list. Give it the sense of urgency it deserves.
Here it is, the day before my birthday, and as I move into another year around the sun, I find myself learning how to ride the ebb and flow of aging – and having my own business – with a little more grace.
Although spring allergies and an overabundance of decadent food (and sugar) on Easter have me feeling sluggish, the overwhelming sentiment I am experiencing today is gratitude. The pace of work has been slower over the last few weeks, which can cause a tinge of anxiety (if I let it), but with the right perspective, I recognize how a slower schedule allows for prolonged quiet mornings on the patio in which I am able to savor my French Roast before attending to emails, versus gulping it down and frantically typing at the same time. I can appreciate the break in the middle of the day when I can take the dogs for a walk around the neighborhood, instead of scarfing down my lunch at my desk while plowing through an edit.
Time feels more manageable and relaxed. Experience has taught me to enjoy this while it lasts. And not let the anxiety of the quiet override the joy that accompanies it.
Over the last couple of months I have been planting seeds – literally and metaphorically. My partner and I have San Marzano tomatoes, artichokes, and sugar snap peas sprouting through the soil in our greenhouse in back, while projects I have been developing for work are also taking root. Ideas that spent the winter months percolating are now materializing on camera. Things are taking shape. And although some projects are still struggling to find their footing, they have momentum. We just need to keep plugging away. Do the work. Stay the course.
It’s all part of the process. It is the nature of the ebb and flow. And I am embracing it. Because spring is in the air, and optimism not only feels seasonally appropriate – it feels right.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I took a cue from an inspiring artist (and friend) I had the pleasure of filming – Nina Elder – who drew up a brilliant “incomplete” list of her many loves for Valentine’s Day. So here’s the start to my list, but for the purposes of this blog, it is dedicated to the things I love about my chosen field:
The people. The content. Prospects. Collaborating. Listening. Drafting interview questions. Filming in a stunning location. Getting a great shot. Beauty. Inspiring subjects. Working with a great crew. Friendships. Wrapping a shoot. Process. Getting lost in the edit. Finding my way in the edit. Shop talk. Sharing. Research. Spending an immense amount of time in my own head. Creativity. Storytelling. Working under pressure. Overcoming writer’s block. Meeting deadlines. The exhale once they’ve been met. The balance of planning and improvisation. Making my own schedule. Turning out a great product. Feedback. Troubleshooting. Funding. Making it work. Executing. Pleasing clients. Return clients. Learning curves. Constant stimulation. Affirmation. The words “thank you.” All the emotions.
Having my mind blown all the time.
The moment when everything falls into place.
Not being able to imagine doing anything else.
With the beginning of a new year, it’s the season for setting resolutions. I have steered away from resolutions in the past for several reasons. For one, what may seem like a priority in January may not feel as relevant further into the year. Not to mention the possibility for failure, or disappointment with oneself rather, for not upholding to the goals set in a New Year’s plan. But there’s no escaping my annual internal dilemma of whether or not to set a resolution, and what visualizing an intention could mean in facing the prospects of a new year.
After making it through the mayhem of the holidays, and settling back into my day-to-day routine, I find myself warming up to the notion of this ritual, though. Yesterday, as I pulled out my new 2018 annual planner and set about making color-coded lists and appointments for upcoming projects, I began to think about the tasks I would assign myself under the mission “Resolution.” I do love making checklists and accomplishing the tasks that comprise them, so shouldn’t I find the same satisfaction in completing tasks associated with my New Years’ resolution? What would be a fitting resolution for FRAME+WORK? What needs attention? What could use more of my time? Where could I do better?
If there is an area of my business which has slid through the cracks, it would be this blog. After all, it is not a necessary item of business. There are no clients, deadlines, or tangible demands – other than to myself – that need to be met. Which is why it has fallen to the bottom of the priority pile. In considering this, it becomes apparently clear to me the blog is representative of other areas of my personal life, reflecting the myriad of ways I put my self-care on the back burner when I become overwhelmed with work. The blog is akin to the walks I have not taken at the end of the workday, or the books still waiting to be read as I settle into bed at a reasonable hour. It is the mental exercise of which I have deprived myself, just as I have the physical visits to the gym or hikes in the foothills when things get hectic. It is one more thing I need to fit into the 24hr day, if only for me alone. And sometimes – let’s face it, oftentimes – I forget myself in the scheme of things.
I also put unrealistic expectations on the blog – the same way I am too ambitious when I finally get back on my bike. Not every entry is going to be eloquent and poetic, just as every ride will not be my strongest and fastest. And I need to be okay with that. It is meant to be an exercise. An outlet. Not a published piece of prose. I need to remind myself it’s not just about the end product, but the process. And I love process, so why not honor that in the blog as I would in my other work?
After a fair amount of pondering these questions and too much time on the fence, I am resolute in my decision to set my intention for 2018. Given it is a commitment to the process, it feels like one I can get on board with and genuinely feel excited about: so, here’s to more blogging, more walking, more reading, and carving out more time in the day. And here’s to feeling happier because of it.
Today is the birthday of someone whom I only met recently. She is one of those people you know from the moment you meet them, they are going to have an impact on your life. Where the encounter holds the promise of transforming your mind and soul. This was my experience with Judy Tuwaletstiwa.
Judy is one of the artists I am profiling for a video series for Tamarind Institute, and we met prior to filming back in December. For me, those winter months were the eve of a major life transition – I would be leaving my job to embark on a new path in revamping my company. Change was afoot. But not just for me. We were being ushered into a time of somber uncertainty in a political climate causing great unrest and distress. But in talking with Judy, a flicker of possibility and the warmth of assurance made its way through the shadows.
Our meeting, in Judy’s words, felt very auspicious.
You cannot have a casual conversation with Judy. You are immediately pulled into the depths of a meaningful and enlightening exchange, where multiple portals are opened. Her wisdom is illuminating and nurturing. She is a sage, and in her presence, you have hope.
All of this, and she is an incredible artist. I am fascinated by her work, her process. Filming her has been the highest honor. Having her show enthusiasm for my process would probably be the second highest honor. To be enveloped by so much positivity and support should be more commonplace. We would all be better off. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by it now.
Every now and then, people enter your life, and you get the sense bigger forces are at play. That is how it feels with Judy. But then again, Judy is a powerful force all on her own. And today I celebrate her.
A time of transition, while starting anew, is also a time for reflection. And with the excitement of re-launching my business, also comes nostalgia for what came before. As a freelancer, I've had the privilege of working with a wide range of people in countless scenarios. Regardless of the team, the client, the network, at the heart of the work were the people who shared their stories with us, and the places that embraced us as brief visitors, often accepting us as family.
At the end of the day, that which made it into the final cut of video – while certainly the best content serving the mission of the project – was by no means the whole story. Lingering memories and life lessons, not to mention new friendships, were the unforeseen takeaways. These moments and individuals left as much an imprint on me as what was captured on camera.
Anyone who works in documentary will tell you, the work allows you to be a virtual tourist, acquiring insight into an array of topics and becoming the ear to many stories. And for the last three years, in producing the series New Mexico True Television, I also became a tourist in the literal sense, traveling to destinations throughout my home state. The work, accompanied by the travel, was a journey in every sense of the word.
A very dear, and incredibly wise, family friend once said – quite adamantly – that I should write a book recounting my experiences on the road, so that I may share the stories of the people and places I had come to know in my travels here in New Mexico. The untold, off-camera material. My personal take. And while I may not feel ambitious enough to take on that pursuit, I thought a blog would be a decent attempt at writing some of these memories down and preserving them.
So this blog is in honor of those moments, those people, those lessons. A time to reflect and wax poetic a bit, and glean even more perspective as I enter this new chapter of FRAME+WORK.
In doing so, I hope to honor the memory of my beloved friend, who inspired me to put it all in black and white.