A Fierce Life Ended: My Grandma

Art, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Fierce Life

Hi Fiercelings,

My paternal grandmother, Dorothy, passed away on March 4th, 2017. She had been declining pretty drastically since Christmas and in the long run for the past 2 years. She would’ve been 97 years old this year if she had lived to her birthday this year in August.

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Usually adorned with rings, but not here.

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In her 20s she did modeling – still beautiful!

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My grandma always lamented about her wrinkly old hands

 

I shared this on my personal facebook page.

Many of you know that my grandma has been declining for quite awhile. She mercifully went to heaven this past Saturday very early. I say mercifully because the last week she was in a very bad way. The last time I saw her was Monday night before her death. I made a point to take some pictures of her hands about 2 weeks before she passed. For as long as I can remember I would admire my grandmother’s hands, primarily because she was always wearing a beautiful ring or bracelet. Anytime she would catch me looking at her hands she would lament about how wrinkly they were. She would lament about one of her thumbs that were bent out of shape. She would then admire my hands with my long fingers and any rings that I was wearing, which was and is generally at least 1 ring on every finger – haha! I always claim that I inherited my love of sparkly things from my grandma. As I got older and we would repeat this conversation at family gatherings I would think when she would lament about her wrinkly hands that they are an outward sign of having lived for a long time. Not everyone lives long enough to gain wrinkly hands, afterall. I know the world seems obsessed with this age cream or lotion, which is fine, I want to look my best too but wrinkles are a sign of living and not everyone gets to live a long time. My grandma had a very full life. She was born in 1920. She lived through the Great Depression, through World War II to the War on Terror, she lost her first husband to WWII but because of that went on to marry my grandfather, she beat breast cancer, she was kind and generous, she loved her family, particularly all of her grandchildren. She once lamented to me that me and my younger siblings didn’t know her as the “fun” grandma. She would always tell me that her oldest grandchild, Amy, knew her as the “fun” grandma but though I tried to tell her she was plenty fun whether she felt that way or not I will cherish the memories I have of her. I mourn her earthly death but I celebrate the life that she had here. I mourn having to answer my 2 year old’s question, “grandma die?” but I celebrate that she lived long enough that one of my children will hopefully have memory of her. And like her, I hope to live long enough to lament wrinkly hands. Dorothy Dunn 1920-2017.

There is something about death that makes you contemplate life. My grandma lived 96 years. She always said how inside she still felt like she was 20 years old. Her life went by fast as all lives do. My grandma’s graveside service had a small, intimate group of family and extended family. Many of her peers have already passed or are in ill health and were unable to attend. Thinking about her I think of my mantra word, fierce. She was a very fierce lady indeed. And she will be missed. I rejoice that she is no longer in physical pain.

fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

 

 

 

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Being Brave

Art, Creative Process, Fierce Photography, Personal, Philosophy of Life, Photography

Hi Fiercelings,

No one likes to give bad news. Unless you have something good to say you’d rather just keep your mouth shut. I have avoided blogging or writing because I don’t really have anything new or interesting to say. It’s not writer’s block, it’s more like just not wanting to say anything unless it is good. I immersed myself in the idea of being an artist. I read books about it and was constantly thinking about it but I wasn’t having success. I wasn’t getting commissions or jobs so I have avoided writing anything. And then I realized that is fear.

Fear.

standing-driftwood-watermarked

 

I hate the thought of living out of fear. And so I was thinking about the concept of being brave and what it really means. Another way of describing bravery is to live fearlessly. In other words, making choices about your life not based out of fear.

Be brave.

Even when you’re not sure what the reward is.

Fiercely,

alexndria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

Walking On Water Review

Art, Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Fierce Photography, God, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

I finally finished reading Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle. There is a lot of material in this little book. The tag line of the book is “Reflections on Faith and Art” it’s a fabulous little book about well, faith and art. To kind of give you a general idea about what the book’s thesis I am going to share the excerpt that is on the back of the book:

” And as I listen to the silence, I learn that my feelings about art and my feelings about the Creator of the Universe are inseparable. To try to talk about art and about Christianity is for me one and the same thing, and it means attempting to share the meaning of my life, what gives it, for me, its tragedy and its glory. It is what makes me respond to the death of an apple tree, the birth of a puppy, northern lights shaking the sky, by writing stories.”

L’Engle was the writer of over some 60 books most notably, A Wrinkle In Time. I have not read that but I intend to. I only became interested in reading Walking On Water because it was referenced and quoted a myriad of times in The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer.

sea shells

 

Let’s dive in.

The first chapter. L’Engle said something beautiful,

 “Why is it that I, who have spent my life writing, struggling to be a better artist, and struggling also to be a better Christian, should feel rebellious when I am called a Christian artist? Why should I feel reluctant to think or write about Christian creativity?”

I thought these rhetorical questions showed strongly how to a large extent we Christians have taken the push from society to leave our faith and religion at home. God has been pushed out of our schools and higher institutions. A Christian scientist for example seems to be an impossibility. The arts used to be largely a religious affair. I think of Michelangelo and Da Vinci. They were THE artists of their time and their works are primarily religious in nature. However, as I say that L’Engle claims something in the next chapter that I found interesting. She says that,

 “…to serve music, or painting, or words is a religious activity, whether or not the conscious mind is willing to accept that fact. Basically there can be no categories such as “religious” art and “secular” art, because all true art is incarnational, and therefore “religious.”

My first thought when she claimed that was that I take issue with it because there is a lot of “Christian” art out there that I do not like. But L’Engle explains this two pages over by saying,

“This confusion comes about because much so-called religious art is in fact bad art, and therefore bad religion.”

That made complete sense to me. Much of the so called “Christian” art that I dislike, I dislike it because I consider it to be very shallow and empty of real religious value. The art has no depth. It is bad religion. L’Engle is saying it is bad art because it is bad religion. Of course, in order to even engage is this type of categorization you have to go along with L’Engle by agreeing that all art is religious. Whether knowingly or unknowingly to the artist all art is a reflection of the Creator. This turns the whole idea of “beauty  is in the eye of the beholder” upside down because now, “good” art brings glory to God and has nothing to do with personal preferences or opinions.

wet seashell

 

I don’t think L’Engle was trying to answer the question “What is art?” but she did. Art is religious. Good art is good religion and vice versa. Agree or disagree? I’m leaning toward agreeing.

Overall: Fantastic book that really gets you thinking and pondering. Worth reading. Must read if you consider yourself to be an artist regardless of religious views.

This is one of four posts about Walking On Water. Click on the link for part 2, 3, and 4.

Fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

 

Anti-Niche

Art, Fierce, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

One thing I have noticed while being in the creative world is that everyone encourages you to find your “niche” to the point that I hate that word! Seriously, everytime I’m reading some creative forum, blog, group post or listening to a podcast everyone is niche, niche, niche. So I have something slightly shocking to those that worship at the ground of the niche:

I am anti-niche.

Did I just say that? Oh no. I guess in order to be more specific (no pun intended) I think I am anti niche. Here’s why; when it comes to photography I love shooting weddings, couples, children, babies, seniors, heck I’d probably enjoy shooting a funeral. I love fashion photography and I love fine art photography. I love it all. And that’s just photography. When it comes to paining, I’m all over Monet but then the next moment I’m looking at a Warhol. I’m currently working on an art piece myself that is definitely more abstract and modern but I’m just as likely to start a still life landscape next week. One could argue that I am testing and experimenting with my artistic whims and I just haven’t found the thing that I’m great at…but I don’t take that view. I think I genuinely love it all. And I don’t think I need to apologize for wanting to dabble in or pursue art in 100 different directions.

Moi feet

The beach we were at had millions upon millions of tiny seashells like these that you had to walk over to get to the water. Walking on eggshells takes on a whole new meaning!

 

You may remember that a few posts ago I wrote about Leonardo Da Vinci here and here. Since those posts I have thought of the Renaissance man some more. I won’t pretend to be a know it all about who Da Vinci was because I’m not, I know about as much as anyone who’s watched The Da Vinci Code knows. I know he painted the Mona Lisa which is one of the most recognizable paintings in the world, I know he painted the Last Supper which is also very recognizable. I think most people would recognize the drawing of the Vitruvian Man. All this to say was Da Vinci just a painter? Of course not! He was THE Renaissance man afterall. He was fascinated by human anatomy as the drawing of the Vitruvian Man shows, he also studied the fetus’ heart and was very much a scientist in his own right. Wikipedia actually titles him as an engineer which I think is both fitting and surprising. He was interested in flying and created lots of blue prints for machines to fly, I believe there is one in particular that we would recognize today as a parachute. My goal in sharing this is not to give you a summary of the works of Da Vinci, although the historian in me is loving this! But to simply show that artists have never been niche oriented. I’m not necessarily saying that’s bad. I mean Margaret Mitchell only wrote one novel but it was Gone With The Wind. Did she need to do anything else? Nope. In Da Vinci’s case though did he need to do anything after painting the Mona or the Last Supper? Probably not. Are we glad he did go on to do more though? Absolutely. He’s a fascinating person in history, his work is proof of that and generations after him are happy to be able to study him and enjoy his works of art.

Another person who is proof that artists do not have to settle or focus on one thing is…drum roll! Michelangelo. A contemporary of Da Vinci’s, Michelangelo is of course best known for the Pieta, David and for painting the Sistine Chapel. Thank the Lord that there wasn’t anyone during the Renaissance whispering in Michelangelo’s ear saying “You can’t be a painter and a sculptor, you need to find your niche.” You can see how preposterous the whole “niche” concept is when you apply it to great artists. However, Michelangelo wasn’t just a painter and a sculptor he was also an architect and poet. I find it fascinating that Da Vinci was messing around studying human anatomy and Michelangelo was designing buildings, most famously St. Peter’s Basilica. Anatomy and architecture are more commonly seen today as science subjects or at least not very artistic pursuits which angers me to no end. I love art and I also love learning science stuff. One thing I am really looking forward to is when I am homeschooling my daughter is all the science experiments we can do!

Izze doing yoga

Izze doing yoga on the beach! 

I am anti niche because I want to be a photographer, painter, musician and writer and chances are I’ll add pottery someday! I look to great artists like Da Vinci and Michelangelo, who were accomplished in multiple arts and get inspired. I understand that the niche speakers are attempting to encourage people to focus on something specific but I don’t want to focus on just one art medium, I want to pursue them all. That’s fierce to me. I want to be a triple threat. Heck, I want to be an octruple threat!

Be fierce!

alexandria

 

 

I am an Artist

Being an Artist, Philosophy of Life, Photography, Quotes, The Artist Life

As a creative person seeking to make a way in the world as said creative person one of the challenges that I believe you must overcome is thinking of yourself as an artist. When you think of the term “artist” what comes to your mind? Leonardo Da Vinci? Monet? Van Gogh? Maybe starving? That’s what I think of when I think of Van Gogh anyway, he is the definition of a starving artist. Do you think of the person playing the guitar that you pass on your way to the subway? Do you think of some eccentric character? Whatever you think of when you think of the title “artist” can you apply that title to yourself? Recently, I have.

sea shells

For awhile now I have been tagging blog posts “The Artist Life” because ultimately, I believe that’s what this blog is about. I express thoughts and opinions on various things but the main idea connecting all of them is art, being an artist and living life as an artsy/creative person. However, I am taking that even a step further by saying ‘artist’ now. I have always thought of myself as an artsy person. From a young age I was always interested in music, acting, primarily the performing arts but eventually that led into painting (which I am not very good at) which then of course led me to photography because even though I may not be able to paint what I see/want I can attempt to capture it in photography. Which is wonderful. Ahh….I love photography. But all of those could be considered hobbies. But they’re more than that for me, they’re apart of who I am…I am an artist you see.

Driftwood -full

I don’t like the idea of identifying yourself by your occupation or job. What you do is not necessarily who you are. Perhaps, I put the term “artist” up on a pedestal because at one time I didn’t feel worthy of calling myself an artist. But that is what I believe I am. A person is a lot of things and I don’t like the idea of putting all your identity into one thing but I guess it’s different when you’re an artist. Creative people see the world differently and by claiming that I am an artist I think it’s a sign to everyone that hey I don’t think like you do. This sounds like a mystical thing which on one side maybe it is – afterall, why do artists see the world differently? But I don’t actually think it is. I think it makes perfect sense. To help clarify this, I of course turned to a quote! Surprise.

“I think the definition of an artist is not necessarily tied into excellence or talent; an artist is somebody who, if you took away their freedom to make art, would lose their mind.” ~ Richard Price

Oh. My. Gosh. I think I can just end this blog post right here and now! I think I’m fairly talented, but there are people more talented than me for sure and I love this quote because it says hey, someone who is extremely talented, that’s not what makes them an artist. What makes someone an artist is that they would go crazy if they didn’t make art. I think that is actually why artists are viewed as eccentric or crazy in general, they have this insatiable desire to make art and so they’re viewed as odd because art is always on their mind, creating is always running in the background. It can be aggravating sometimes because you can’t turn it off. It can be frustrating sometimes because you don’t have time to pursue art as much as you’d like to. So, let me step on my tiny soap box and say if any of this rings a bell in your mind firstly, call yourself an artist. And then, once you’ve done that, don’t lose your mind, go create art. Afterall, you’re an artist and how fierce is that.

Driftwood

Fiercely,

alexandria

Life, Simplified

Fierce, Fierce Photography, Philosophy of Life, Photography, Quotes, The Artist Life

I have been pouring and drooling over Lenonardo Da Vinci quotes. I have long loved the original Renaissance man.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Having moved from an apartment to a condo to halfway across the country I definitely have had opportunities to go through all of my stuff. There is something about moving that makes you go “why do I have this?” “I don’t want or need this anymore but I don’t want to throw it away” “Do I give this away?” and then when you go to Goodwill to give it away you see everyone else who has given away their junk. I remember when I dropped off some clothes at Goodwill how the room was fillllllled with stuff. Pointless stuff. I hate stuff. I love it when I go to someones house that seems a little sparse. This is one of those things that living in American culture that just seems to happen. I don’t think anyone really intends to accumulate so much stuff but if we’re not intentional about what we have we end up having an absurd amount of stuff.

multi colored flower 2

You may have heard of the idea of a “capsule” wardrobe. It’s an idea about dressing that has floated around the blogopshere. The main idea is that you have a small amount of clothing that you absolutely love and makes you feel great. How many times have you walked into your closet or opened your drawers and lamented “I have nothing to wear!” A capsule wardrobe let’s you wear your favorite pieces over and over again but in a different way. It’s about simplifying your life right down to what you wear.

When I read Leonardo’s words on simplicity I think of our homes and what we have in them, I think of what we put on our backs and keeping these things simple. It’s ultimately one of the most sophisticated ways for us to live according to Da Vinci. And it’s fierce =D

When you think of living simply what do you think of?

Fiercely,

alexandria

P.S. More Da Vinci quotes coming!

 

 

Change & Create

Personal, The Artist Life

It seems 2015 is a year of change for me. Changing and creating. While I was visiting my sister and her family in Maryland my husband calls me and is emphatic about moving to Florida to be with his dad. I tell him, I’m game – I can pursue my photography, art and creative identity near the beach =D plus I really want to learn to surf. The “good” job that my husband had just landed at the beginning of the summer turned out to be a a “good” job for the summer and not much else so our thought process is that if we want to pursue our own businesses (because we really don’t like bosses) we can easily do that in Florida, once again near the beach. My daughter has yet to meet her Papa so this is a great opportunity for us to spend some much due quality time with my husband’s family and be near the beach. Hehe are you getting the beach theme yet? So I’m happy to state we are moving in less than 2 weeks now (gulp!).

Here are some shots I took in DC while on the Metro. I REALLY want to create more photographs like this. They feel so moody and pensive. I keep feeling drawn to fine art photography versus being a family photographer/ wedding photographer. I am…evolving in my taste as a photographer and becoming more precise with what I like, don’t like, consider good/bad photography. I’ve always been an opinionated person and I am happy that what I want my style to be as a photographer is becoming more defined. Changing and creating. every. single. day.

Rain window sepia rain window Train reflection 2 Train reflection

Fiercely,

alexandria

“Day by day nothing changes but pretty soon everything is different.” ~ Bill Watterson

Life & Death 

Philosophy of Life

You know that joke that people die in threes? Well, I guess it is true, and then some. In the last month I’ve known 3 people directly that have passed away. And then I know about 5 people by one degree of separation that have passed. I feel like it’s a season of death. But it’s Spring and since I was gardening the other day I feel like this isn’t right. I planted a few tulips and lilies and geraniums so in my mind it is officially Spring – it even felt hot a few days ago! Spring is supposed to be a time of life and blooming. Not death. A few posts ago I stated I wanted change but I didn’t mean I wanted someone to die. 

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Two weeks and a day ago I got one of those dreaded phone calls. The one where someone asks you what you’re doing? This person has died. I need you to meet me at their house. My husband called to tell me that his mom was dead and he needed me to meet him at her house. One of those phone calls. So I get to her house and find police cars and a medical examiner truck outside. The least I can say is I’ve had a bad 2 weeks life wise (business wise I am doing well!) and I’m trying to recover, reflect and make sense of what’s occurred. I’m trying to make peace with this change. I am trying to find a way to be in the land of the living with some levity while dealing with death which can be weighty. I wasn’t close with my mother in law and my husband wasn’t close with her either so it’s not as if I just lost my best friend but you don’t realize the importance of someone’s role in your life, regardless of their level of significance they play, until they are gone. My daughter has lost her grandmother. I have both of my grandmothers living as of now and I adore them and the relationship I have with them. So I’m making peace with the fact that the possibility of that relationship with my daughter is gone. No more. I like change, I desire change. But I didn’t mean it like this.

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Have you ever put your hands in a spinning fan? Like this windmill I feel like I have gotten spun in one of life’s wheel that it spins you through and hopefully it’s done spinning me because I am dizzy but things are getting clearer.

Fiercely reflecting and rejoining the land of the living,

Alexandria

“Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone”

Philosophy of Life, Photography

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I found this fantastically fierce quote on a card in one of my friends’ office. It really speaks to my creative mood as of late. I have decided in light of my word for the year being create, that I am increasingly looking for ways to do something new. Something different. Change. Change is good. What is our comfort zone as humans? The thing that keeps popping into my head is routine. Sameness. Therefore, I am always choosing to do something differently as of late. For example, my husband and I may be moving into a new apartment. We like where we are living now, there is nothing wrong with where we are living now. Although, some may argue that we need a second bedroom for our daughter. My main objective in moving besides the extra space is that I want to be somewhere different and new. Plus the complex we are looking at has a tennis court and basketball court which pretty much has me sold! We shall see.

The weather has been in the 50s the past day so naturally I grabbed my daughter late afternoon/ sunset and took a bunch of photos. She just keeps getting cuter! Somehow, she knows that I am using her as a model and she growled at me toward the end of our shoot. Haha. Anyway, I met an old friend today for lunch today and informed her that I am pursing photography and she told me that she could see me doing that! It is always delightful to have positive feedback especially when you’re doing something out of your comfort zone, but hey, that’s where life really happens.

Fiercely,

Alexandria

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I love my happy little girl 🙂

The Settle Trap

Matrimony, Parenthood, & Family

When you talk about relationships in our society somebody will always say something to the effect of “you don’t want to settle,” “make sure you don’t settle,” “don’t settle,” “you don’t want to feel like you’ve settled,”  et cetera, et cetera. Now, I will make a disclaimer before anybody freaks out by what I am about to claim. If you are in an abusive relationship of any kind this does not apply to you. With that out of the way let me continue my thought process. I won’t pretend to be an expert on marriage by any means. My husband and I have only been married a measly year and a half. Honestly, we have not any major conflicts in our short marriage, but then to be completely honest, most major conflicts we dealt with before we walked down the aisle(err, sandy beach. Hehe.)  But here’s a thought: The whole fear of settling in a relationship is an idea straight from the pit of hell to sabotage your marriage. Or, if you don’t like my colorful language it is a trap. [Sidenote: I am actually really proud of myself for thinking of this because this is truly an original idea! I have never heard anyone speak of this before.]

Allow me to elaborate; When you are constantly filtering your relationship through the lens of “Have I settled?” you are always on the lookout for “Have I settled?” therefore guess what you will think when you are upset at your spouse? That’s right. Here’s the thing; if you leave it up to your spouse to make you happy you will at some point feel like you settled. Let me explain my thinking, here. I believe that marriage is a picture of God’s love for His Church as the Bible states. The awesome thing about God’s love is that it is perfect. Completely and utterly perfect. But you didn’t marry God. You married a human. A flawed being. Therefore you don’t get perfect love; you get a picture of perfect love. And if human marriage is a picture of God’s love it is a picture drawn by people with no paintings skills. That is why the whole “don’t settle” jargon is a trap. You have already settled. At some point, in a relationship you want to be in, the thought of “have I settled?” will cross your mind. You may not agree with the thought, to which you should push the thought away, for it can only breed dissatisfaction. I think that is why I dislike this concept so much, it breeds dissatisfaction, it encourages you to think there is something better out there. The grass is greener on the other side and all that. No, it’s green where you water it. Dude, just build a pool and a hot tub – who cares what the grass looks like?

Fiercely,
Alexandria