About jessicafeis

Jessica Lamirand strives to make art not only part of her daily life but to live her life artfully. As a writer, photographer, artist, and art educator, Jessica shares her inner and outer worlds through images and words.

Breaking the Rubber Band – Equestrienne

Me and my new friend Kojack

In 2011, I decided to do one thing per month that scares, challenges, and pushes me past my self-imposed limits. You can read about it here and here and here. And I did this . . . for three months. Then life happened. I stopped with the experiment, I just got busy and lazy, and a couple of years later, I stopped trying to push myself entirely. I convinced myself over time that I should work on acceptance instead of change, that I should not be Type A but Zen instead, that I was too obsessed with results and my own rigid ideals of success. I needed to learn how to accept myself as I was, a person with limitations. But at the same time, I also convinced myself that was a failure. I’ve spent my whole life ensuring my perfectionism. I have years of report cards covered in As to prove it. I’ve failed in many ways over the past several years, and it has silenced me, drawn me into my shadow, and also dammed my creativity. But my path has been the right one. Letting go of my expectations was the right trajectory for my growth; I had much inner work to do over the past few years. I’ve faced tragedies, I’ve faced the darkness and mystery of my inner incubation, “I’ve been one acquainted with the night,” as Robert Frost might say, and it’s made me stronger.

I’m back. I have a new relationship with anxiety, with myself, and with the realities of life. I’m more willing to allow discomfort and uncertainty to exist. I’m getting old, and I’m tired of feeling sentenced to smallness. So I decided to try the experiment again. 2019 will be a year of trying new things, of sitting alongside my fears rather than fighting and feeding them, of ignoring their voices but expecting that they will be present, of living and not just dreaming of a someday, a magical day when everything falls into place perfectly. There is no someday; life starts now. I have twelve months to push myself and to create new neuropathways. And I don’t know where I’ll wind up in a year. I hope beyond my wildest dreams. But maybe not as far as I’d like. Maybe right back where I started. Maybe I’ll fail and stop playing in another three months. But hopefully, if so, I’ll start it up again. Maybe the experiment will take me three years, or thirty. It doesn’t matter. I want to keep trying. I can find both ends of the spectrum—give it all I’ve got, and then let go of the results, or for you yogis out there, abhyasa and vairagya.

Before 2019 officially starts, I did face one small fear on Christmas Eve. I really couldn’t wait until 2019 to get started, so I jumped. It wasn’t something that actively terrified me, but rather something unsettled for the past thirty years that I never got around to doing. Let’s take a trip back to 1987, where I, as a mere girl of eleven, took my first horseback ride. My dad had a friend with horses, and so my brother and I went along with him to the small nearby town of Penrose where the man’s teenage daughter, my brother, and I saddled up their three horses and began to ride down the dirt road. I don’t remember many details. I doubt that this teenage girl gave me much instruction on handling a horse, and I was meek and small anyway. I was also a brat. Not far into the ride, I got scared and claimed that the horse was walking too close to the trees and trying to scrape me off. I got off the horse and walked back to the house, content to play with the family’s litter of kittens and convincing myself that I preferred cute, fluffy animals to large, powerful ones.

Fast forward two years to a traumatizing two weeks I spent at Girl Scout Camp. The homesickness I endured made me an emotional, anxiety-ridden mess. When it was my group’s turn to go horseback riding, I refused to go. I stayed behind and sulked while my group rode horses. The lady working at the stables showed me compassion and encouraged me to pet the horse Tweed, whom I would have been riding. I brushed him and totally fell for him—Tweed was the sweetest horse and had the kindest eyes. She even convinced me to climb up on the saddle, and she proclaimed, “You’re a natural.” With that, my heart swelled with regret that I hadn’t been out there riding Tweed with all the other kids. I longed to ride him but missed my opportunity as my group came back soon after. I had just needed a little more time and encouragement (the story of my life). I spent the rest of camp being jealous of the girls in the horse classes. After camp ended, I even told my mom that I might consider going back to camp the next summer to be in the horse program. By the next summer, I had no desire to repeat camp. I forgot about all of the positive experiences and how I had survived the whole two weeks, how I grew to love Tweed, and instead I zeroed in only on the negativity, how hard it had been, how much I had suffered. And for years, I forgot about ever wanting to ride. Mostly I remembered the fear and my own failure, that is what stuck. I never had another opportunity to ride horses, and it all faded away with the passage of time.

 

Recently it occurred to me that I’d like to try to ride a horse again, that it would be a small and manageable symbolic way of moving on from one of my childhood fears. I settled on Christmas Eve because it looked like it would be the warmest day of my Winter Break. My dad agreed to come along with me because he hadn’t been on a horse in years. I made reservations at Academy Riding Stables for a ride in Garden of the Gods. This was happening; I couldn’t back out of it. Leading up to the ride, I only felt mild apprehension, wishing that the experience were over. More than anything, I worried that riding might bring on my sciatica, although brief images of me falling off the horse and becoming paralyzed, or of my horse galloping off with me unable to stop him did sneak in. I was paired up with an Appaloosa named Kojack. Stepping up into the saddle, I felt a swell of freedom and love, just as I did with Tweed so long ago. Dad was paired with a beautiful, big, white horse named Silver. As our horses walked in a row with me behind Dad, the very last in our group, all my fears disappeared as one of the staff told me, “I would trust my five-year-old with Kojack.” Right away, I loved riding Kojack. I loved the rhythmic clomp-clomp of the horses’ hooves on the cement as we made our way down the street to the Garden of the Gods. I loved people in cars waving and smiling at us. I loved being in the very back and unable to hear much of what our leader was saying so I could just be present with this horse. I loved the rhythm of the movement, and at times, I even wished that I could go just a little faster. I challenged myself throughout the ride by riding one-handed so I could take pictures along the way. The whole experience was a meditative one; I felt perfectly calm and at peace, enjoying the warm (for December) weather, the beautiful surroundings, and the joy of bonding with this powerful and loving being.

After the ride, I felt a wave of confidence and freedom, a release of old fears holding me back and a welcoming of new adventure, new energy. I loved horseback riding and regret not going back to camp thirty years ago to learn all about horses. But I remind myself what George Eliot once said: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

As it stands now, I’m sure that I’ll never own horses, I’ll never be a hot-shot wrangler, but I can’t wait to go horseback riding again! I already found another stable in town that I want to try and another in Estes Park, which I visit at least every year. I can’t wait to ride horses through Rocky Mountain National Park—what a beautiful way to see the scenery! I have this surge of success now, and there’s no going back. As I move forward and confront bigger fears, I am determined to remember the joy and peace I felt riding Kojack, how I not only freed myself an entanglement of the past, but I found space in my heart for a new love.

Advertisements

My Favorite Art Places: Meow Wolf

I visited Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe in March 2018, and I really have no words to describe it, so I will just let the pictures do the talking. I will say that it is now one of my favorite art places in the world, truly exemplar in the participatory arts experience. The day earlier I visited a lovely, traditional and albeit a little boring art museum with few visitors. For Meow Wolf, I stood in line for 45 minutes, paid over twice as much and didn’t regret a single moment or dollar. This immersive arts experience is truly a beacon of the future; accessible, technologically rich, quirky, multi-layered. . . you know, when Teddy Roosevelt rode the Cripple Creek Short Line, he claimed that the scenery “bankrupts the English language.” Now I’m in no way comparing Meow Wolf to the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, but in a very different way, Meow Wolf bankrupts the English language. Even the pictures do it no justice. It is something that must be experienced.

For more pictures, see my New Mexico Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/flowercat/albums/72157667257387328

May 2017

May was lovely with so many little adventures and projects, and, of course, the arrival of light and warmth and freedom from work for the next two months. Here are a few of our adventures:

Adventure #1

We started out for a hike up Red Mountain in Manitou Springs in early May. As the day looked warm and sunny without any chance of rain, we didn’t even bother to bring sweatshirts.

There were lilacs blooming everywhere in Manitou!

This was our goal—Red Mountain.

Okay, so something very strange happened. The storm clouds started moving in. With them looking serious, we decided to pass by the trail up the mountain and instead headed down Intemann Trail towards Ruxton Avenue. As we hit Ruxton, the farthest point from our car, the rains began. We had to run from awning to awning down Ruxton and Manitou Avenue, sometimes stopping in shops to dry off a bit. But two magical things happened: 1. We discovered the coolest market with organic food and Colorado-made products, Lu Style Local Goods. We had smoothies while trying to wait out the rain. The rain never let up. 2. We stopped in a shop with Latin American imports and found an Amate Bark painting for super cheap that we fell in love with. So now the challenge became getting not only us, but our painting, back to the car in one piece.

We stopped for a while at the arcade to wait out the storm. The rain never let up, so we dashed several blocks back to the car, running harder than we had run in a long time, stopping under awnings and trees here and there to catch our breath. The painting arrived safe. We arrived safe. As soon as we drove out of Manitou, the rain stopped. It was still sunny in Colorado Springs.

Adventure #2

(There should be mountains out there but it was so dusty that you couldn’t see them.)

We set out for the Great Sand Dunes the day that my summer vacation started. Worried about the wind, I checked my weather app, and it told me that the wind was blowing at 10mph. We arrived to find a dust storm. Knowing that the Sand Dunes can be horrible with just the slightest amount of wind, we decided to play in other parts of the Sand Luis Valley, like the UFO Watchtower.

And Colorado Gators!

I also held the alligator after Billy did. But there is no picture to prove it.

Some of our friends at the alligator farm.

Then we stopped in La Veta on the way home where we bought pie and batiks and had insightful conversations with the super friendly locals.

Adventure #3

Gardening. The adventure continues on into June.

We are replacing the vegetable gardens with flowers, mulch with rock, lawn with rock, rotting logs with large rocks that we are gathering from the hill behind my family home. It is expensive and time-consuming and tiring, but well on its way to looking super nice!

Adventure #4

Building Castle Boogers. We built a tower for our cat, Boogers from Styrofoam insulation, carpet remnants, vinyl adhesive floors, and linoleum floor sample tiles. So far, she absolutely loves it! She sleeps on the top level and looks out the window. She sleeps and sulks like a melancholy teenager on the ground floor in the dark. She emerges from her castle to eat and to rub against our dog Emma.

It took us 12 hours and cost three times the amount we thought it would, but we love our creation.

Adventure #5

Alexander Calder and floral lovelies at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

More random photos from May.

Our snowball bush was gorgeous this year!

A puppy in our neighborhood named Belle. She looks so much like our dear, sweet Winnie that we always stop and pet her when we see her.

Good old Emma is just about 13 years old.

 

April 2017

April was wracked with grief for me because of the recent loss of my dog Winnie. Also work was stressful and busy with preparations for a big event that is now, thankfully, over. Precious and few were the moments that I had to myself. But at least it was starting to look and feel more like spring.

We took a hike in memory of Winnie and left flowers for her at the top of Mount Muscoco. She never took that hike but would have loved in when she was in her hiking prime. I’m so happy that it’s starting to be hiking season again.

I’m grateful for my two surviving pets, Emma and Boogers.

Boogers suffers in the spring and summer. We just had an allergy test done on her and are waiting for the results. I may have to give her allergy injections soon. Fun!

Doña Emma is nearly 13 years old now.

My dad and my mom both celebrated birthdays this month. Yes, I have two headstrong Aries parents.

And then there were the flowers (and the year’s first ladybug sighting) . . .

Happy spring!

March 2017

Just two days before she left us.

I have put off posting pictures about March because it has been too painful. On March 28th, we lost our Winnie. She was sick and old, but we loved her like our child. We had her for nearly twelve years, ever since she was little more than a puppy. I’m not able to write much about her, about the experience, but her loss has left such a big hole in our lives and our hearts. Losing her has caused a marked shift in my life that I still cannot comprehend. I don’t know what is going to happen, but everything seems dark, and it feels like there is little left to lose. Here are a couple of the last pictures I have of her:

That came at the end of the month, the rest of the month brought walks and hikes and bike rides and flowers. Here are a few highlights:

We rode our bikes around the Deaf and Blind School. Although I have driven by it probably thousands of times, I had never set foot on campus before. Such beautiful, old buildings.

A snowy hike in Mueller State Park

Mueller State Park

A friendly neighborhood turtle

A walk around my old alma mater

A walk near Cheyenne Canon

It got dreary and rainy at the very end of the month, much to match my mood.

I loved all the spring flowers in the rain. New beginnings yet still draped in the tears that come with the ending of chapters.

February 2017

February has been an interesting month—life-changing in many ways. It came in like a lion with this snowy, foggy day (in an otherwise dry, dry winter):

20170202_152914 20170202_155045 20170202_155520 20170202_155800 20170202_160948

Within a day or two, our temperatures climbed to unseasonably warm weather and stayed that way for most of the month. Here are some shots of our hike in Red Rock Canyon Open Space:l1170723 l1170739 l1170742 l1170750 l1170758

I had two life-changing weekends in Denver. One was a module for my 300-hour teacher training, during which I took these pictures during a lunch break in City Park. The other was a Level 1 Reiki Training. Just how they changed my life would not be interesting to anyone else, but I am entering March feeling more powerful, directed, conscious, and open and trusting to life.

img_20170211_131303 img_20170211_130746

February was very much about family. I am so proud of my grandma for being named resident of the month at the retirement home where she lives!

20170204_161207 20170204_162900

It has been hard to clear out the home where my grandparents lived for over sixty years, to let go of items that I have seen for my entire life. So many memories, so many emotions that I haven’t been able to begin to process. Especially hard since my grandpa built this house, every inch of it is him. But life is change, and all we can do is keep moving forward. Here are some shots I took in and around the house last weekend:

img_20170219_135251-2 img_20170225_134322 img_20170225_134349 img_20170225_134429 img_20170225_134814

And lastly, on this same day I took these pictures, we lost my uncle Doc. I wanted so much to be in Arizona for my family and for the funeral today, but I had too many work obligations to go out of state. I ache to be around my kin in their grief and to honor this incredible man.

January 2017

January has been a hard month. It has been a struggle every day to keep up faith and hope and not let myself drown in despair. I haven’t been taking a daily picture, but I thought this year I’d post some pictures from the highlights of the month. This month had few highlights. All work and no play. Then the cold and extreme wind. But it’s now February and things are starting to look up. This month, we are learning the hard way the true meaning of this quote:

“By your stumbling, the world is perfected.” -Sri Aurobindo

20170107_112133

We saw spurts of snow, extreme cold, and hurricane-speed winds this month.

20170107_115424_hdr

Winnie had a rough spot earlier this month but is on some new medication and is doing well.

20170107_115429_hdr

Boogers is still cute.

20170107_115436

Emma has been slowing down a lot (she is so pokey on our walks), but she still seems to feel pretty good.

20170112_185612

All of my babies at home on Billy’s birthday.

20170113_161919

Even though the dogs have slowed down, we still walk them most days. But we are starting to take ourselves on more walks because we need more exercise than our dog walks can provide.

20170115_1134121

Foggy, cold.

20170121_142134

I’m proud to have participated in the historic Women’s March on January 21st. In Colorado Springs

20170121_145007

At the Women’s March, riding the powerful wave of energy and change.

20170123_170533

I finally sold my Saturn, my car of 15 years, this month. Working on letting go of many things and trusting the path forward.

l1170705

The last weekend of the month was warm, and the four of us enjoyed a long walk.

l1170707

I made a new hat.

l1170710

So excited to see a touch of green.

l1170715

Goodbye to January. I’m so anticipating spring’s arrival.