Love Fiercely

loving-fiercely

I have a few swirling thoughts to blog about. You’ll have to bear with me while I meander about and sort of figure out what I want to say as I say it. And let me preamble by saying that I’m going to say something shocking below but I have no intention of breaking up with Payam nor have I ever. It’s just an example.

Ahem.

I’ve always identified with being moody. I was one of those kids who would get their feelings hurt easily and go hide in a closet or under a table to cry. The adults in my family would dismiss my behavior.  I had an artist’s temperament they would say and go on with their lively conversations, ignoring me until I got bored enough of my hiding place and came out in a better mood. Of course I would wish they would come to comfort me and I think occasionally an Aunt or my dad would do that but for the most part, I just felt like my moods were too much trouble for the rest of the world to deal with and nobody really understood me.

This moodiness has followed me for the rest of my life. I’ve come to realize that I cycle through up days and down days regularly, almost like clockwork. My moods often have very little to do with my actual situation or surroundings.  So I’ve come to not trust my moods. It’s a tricky place to be.

I have really great up days so I’ve come to accept that my down days are the price I pay. Usually the down days have something to do with hormones. I can pretty much look back at any conflict I have ever had and blame it on hormones. Of course some hardships I’ve gone through are not my “artists temperament’s” fault but I definitely know that I could deal with them better if I wasn’t the “moody artist” that I am. Or at least that is what I’ve always told myself.

The other day I was in a mood. It was one of those moods where you see everything negatively, even down to the dust on the floorboards.  I was reflecting on my relationship with Payam (poor Payam) and things were coming up short.  I am pretty critical by nature. It can be a terribly negative trait but it also helps me with my creativity and my work. I can be discerning in design, knowing with strong feelings what colors or fonts to discard in favor of others. Where to put something on a page and not. I know my own mind and I can easily visualize what I want things to look like and what exactly is wrong if they do not. I can curate a photoshoot, cropping out this offending detail in order to focus in on something else to tell a story… It’s a blessing and a curse and definitely part of being an artist!

This is all great for work but not so great when you are on a team or in a relationship and you find yourself curating the people around you. Just picture me finding Payam taking a nap on the couch while watching soccer. Maybe he’s snoring with some leftover snack sitting on the coffee table. It’s an innocent enough thing to do. But of course I am all excited about getting my steps in for the day (I’m type A) and listening to podcasts about health and wellness so I launch right into a full-blown lecture on how we should walk everyday and his napping is not aligning with my big picture.

It’s an innocent request but what if Payam doesn’t feel like walking every day? What if he has back trouble and foot trouble and me nagging him really puts a damper on his mood? He doesn’t like being judged by me. Who would? He doesn’t want me to think he’s lazy but walking everyday can actually be painful for him.  This is just a silly example and Payam does actually walk with me quite a bit but you get the picture.   You can imagine how my criticizing can not really work out so great for me and our relationship. I know this so I might keep my criticism to myself and fester inside every time I catch him napping on the couch. If I let things go too far, I start to day dream about what life might be like if I had an athletic boyfriend. Can you imagine what I’d look like if I was with someone who liked to get up early in the morning and run?!!  Maybe I start blaming my flabby body on Payam…I mean, that’s extreme but I could start to think that way if I let this sort of “moodiness” go on for too long.

You know the last thing I want to do is break up with Payam. I love him!  I love us. He loves me, flabby body and all! How am I going to force him to fit into my idea of what life should be like? I can’t! I’ve tried that with previous relationships and they’ve failed miserably and caused me great pain.

So I caught myself.   I decided I was going to stop myself every time I started judging and replace those critical thoughts with LOVING FIERCLY instead. At first it was just an experiment but it worked like magic. You should see the smile on Payam’s face when I come in from a dog walk and I am so happy to see him instead of low-level pissed. I try to make emoji hearts come out of my eyes and I think they really do and then he responds with even bigger emoji hearts coming out of his eyes!  I linger in hugs and tell him how much I love him. He hugs me back with even bigger hugs.

I find myself wondering why I ever was having negative thoughts in the first place. He is the best team member ever!

It’s a crazy fact and I think the real secret why arranged marriages work. If you make up your mind to make something work instead of break it down every day, it WILL work. The more you love, the more you find your partner loving you back. It’s amazing how much we can love. It really is our super power. We can infinitely love. Just think about that for a second. Infinitely. It is the basis for all religions. It must be a truth that centers us.

It really was an epiphany for me. I think I should go make some t-shirts or something. Just kidding! But try it!

LOVE FIERCELY!

It’s so hard to write this stuff. I keep judging myself in every different light I can think of. But I still want to say it.

So I had a crazy idea.

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I don’t know what came over me. I was walking my dogs over the footbridge that I always do on my way to the fake lake and I suddenly came up with a thought: What if I had a dance party on the footbridge? I know this is a crazy idea because what if we caused an accident on the freeway below when all the cars were distracted by a bunch of weirdos dancing above them. But I didn’t think about that until later when I ran my crazy idea by Payam and he pointed out the danger. So I moved my idea to the beginning of the footbridge where some trees overgrow and the bridge is hidden from the cars below. But still, what a crazy idea, right? The more I thought about it, the more I was in love with it.

I’ve had a few setbacks lately with my creative ideas and I just wanted to do something really fun and cheap. That narrows your options by a lot but photography and dancing are FREE! I was supposed to throw a make-up party at our local hoity-toity mall and it fell through when I realized it would cost me more than it was worth. And the management at the mall kept making me jump through more and more hoops. It just turned into a headache and I had to cancel it even though a lot of people were excited about coming. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. It still might happen but if I’ve learned anything this tax season it’s that I need to stop spending money I don’t have. I always put myself in these ridiculous situations and I need to get better at saying no.

Long story short I had a vision in my mind. We have this portable boombox amp thing that can play music really loud AND it’s cordless. It’s really cool.  It’s made quite a difference in the ambiance of our parties. Why not cart that thing out to the middle of the bridge, I thought? We can bring the dance party with us!

I’ve always loved the footbridge. It’s kind of my own slice of urbanity in the middle of boring snoresville suburbia. I always love walking over the ocean of traffic on my way to a peaceful lake on the other side.  It’s just a really unique spot. When the sun shines across the horizon at sunset it can turn magical. So I strung up some battery operated lights, emailed all my close crazy friends who do silly things like this for me and we set out.

Only problem was I was the only one who could really make this work and that meant I had to be model AND photographer. I wanted to be behind the camera, capturing my vision but nobody was really into dancing like a crazy fool like I was. So I set up my tripod, asked Payam to take a few pictures and then danced my head off. I waved and shouted and kicked my furry unicorn leg warmers (that I borrowed from Joon) in the air and everybody thought I was a big fool.

And I was. I was a big fat sweaty dancing fool. But thankfully the ones who are near and dear to me love me for being a big fool. Even though Bug was probably the most embarrassed of me (purely because of her age and not because we are not kindred spirits in weirdness) she danced with me too. She kept trying to pull me to the side when people walked by, like it pained her to have the general public see me acting this way. I know it was hard for her with her friends being there too. But at the same time who’s going to make her crazy memories if not me? I think kids need to be embarrassed of their parents once in a while. It makes for good stories.

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It IS a good story. But mostly it was a good lesson for me. I did a hard thing and I learned a ton. I organized a spontaneous dance party and really put myself out there. It wasn’t a complete win. I see lots of failure when I look at the photos (the 200 I am not sharing with you.) I see awkwardness. I see myself being vulnerable. I see parts of myself I don’t like seeing. I see others looking at me.

My energy was at a 200 while theirs is barely getting up to 80 which in itself is really cool because they are there and not sitting at home on their couches. I see love. I see my close friends putting themselves out there for me because they love me even when I am silly and weird. I see the light. I see how I didn’t have my camera set properly to catch the light… I have so much to learn. I would love to do it again and apply what I have learned but I’m not sure I could wrangle another crowd together. It’s hard to get people to dance in public!

One of the coolest things that happened was when a woman walked by and started dancing with us. That warmed my heart and made me so happy. A lot of people walked by us and smiled. Some people bobbed their shoulders but this woman woman raised her arms and sashayed in a circle as she walked by us. She even came back for another round and told us that our party made her feel like she was in New Orleans! golden-hour-dance-party-5We were a small bunch. But what a bunch! These are the people who will probably come visit me when I am dying in the hospital. (Well maybe not Bug’s friends but who knows!) These are the people who would come rescue me if I had a flat tire on the side of the road in a rainstorm. These are the people who wear unicorn suits and totally understand me when I have panic attacks.sandra-at-the-golden-hour-dance-party-photographerThese are the people I met when I moved to the apartment complex. That apartment complex is kind of known for being a transitional place where people move to when they are in between stage in their life. Lots of single moms. Lots of divorcees. Lots of people who couldn’t afford to live in big houses but it was the nicest place they could afford near a really good school. My heart runs deep for these friends.

maria-and-the-dragon-hunter-at-the-golden-hour-dance-party-photographerMy dragon-hunter model who poses for me when I do craft posts for Alphamom now that Bug is too big for little kid crafts…golden-hour-dance-party-photographer

And Neilochka! Neil isn’t from my apartment complex but he was in town and as a fellow photographer (who’s work I adore) I knew he’d be down.

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Bug and her crew of school friends. They think I’m nuts but not too nuts to completely shun. I think they reluctantly admit I have a good idea or two when nothing else better is going on. Emphasis on the latter.

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We danced for forty-five minutes, counting down the last minutes zealously. And then we packed up and went home happy and tired.

I felt insecure about it for days. But now I’m putting it down in the books as a learning curve to help me through the next big idea. I wonder what it will be?!