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AT LOOSE ENDS

Cindy Maddera

Michael asked me the other day how I felt about not doing a 365 day project any more. I told him that it feels a little bit strange. Every single day for the last year, I took a moment out of my day to photograph myself. During the week, those moments usually happened in the mornings while I was out on my morning coffee walk. My backdrop was either a stairwell or some place outside. On most days I did not have an elaborate plan or idea; I just took a picture. Sometimes these were pictures of my hands. Sometimes these were pictures of my feet. My favorite one of the set is the one I took of just my leg and boot against the gray background of the stairwell. One could assume that I was doing a karate kick or a dance step. It has a simple minimalist aesthetic quality that appeals to me for some reason.

Some time around late October, I got really tired of the daily self portrait. I had not gained any insight into myself or built creativity. My eyes still went to the places on my body that I felt needs improvement instead of just seeing myself as beautiful. I mean, it wasn’t a complete bust. There were photos where I’d look at myself and think “wow, I’ve gotten skinny!” or “I really like how the gray streaks through my hair like highlights.” But I soon grew tired of myself and the day to day of it wore on me so much so that I did not want to continue with a 365 day project for this year. I didn’t even think about the project the day after taking the final picture until I was almost done with my morning coffee walk. I paused for a moment thinking I’d missed a turn or something before I remembered that this was my usual time of day for taking a photo.

I kind of don’t know what to do with myself.

I entered 2019 with out any sort of plan or intention. This might sound freeing to some people. The year is just one big open blank book to be filled with what ever fantastical idea I decide to fill it up with. A big blank open page. I am not the kind of person who thinks any of this sounds freeing. I don’t make up a detailed weekly meal plan every week because I’m being budget minded and trying to prevent food waste. I do it because if I don’t plan out the meals, dinner time will be chaos. Like tuna straight out of the can on saltines chaos. Though being budget minded and reducing food waste is also a good reason for the meal plan. If I don’t have some idea of a plan, my life tumbles into chaos and disorder. Which again, some people may thrive from chaos and disorder. I can tell you that this is the worst time of year for me to not have a creative project to distract myself from all the yuck that bubbles up inside me during the winter months. The winter is also when I feel the least motivated to do anything but curl up in a blanket while wearing my heated unicorn slippers.

I’m doing my best not to rush something. Recently, I sat down and wrote an outline for a book idea. I have the same story half written in a half a different ways floating around in various formats on my computer. I thought maybe writing an outline would give me focus and help to start pulling things together. It is giving me some direction and I have even spent a couple of hours writing on this project this week. I don’t want to set myself up for failure by saying this will be the year I write a book, but maybe this will be the year I get closer to writing that book. Maybe this year I focus more on writing and just a little bit on photography. I have started a new photography project, but it’s a photo a week. I’m calling it Project Zen. Michael gave me a desk top Zen garden and once a week I spend some time smoothing out the sand. Then I drag the rake through to make a design and carefully drop in the tiny rocks. Once I’ve finished, I take a photo. It’s a much more relaxed photo project, more like photo meditation.

I recognize that having some free time might not be so bad either; that facing the yuck instead of distracting myself from it would be a more mentally healthy approach to life. Maybe this year I can do a little of both.