Podcast: Transition

Here's a quick check-in about the transition I'm in going from the Portfolio Project game into the next stage of my work this year, and what I see now--looking back--about balance.  I remember that someone once told me that balance isn't doing it all, all the time, but it is often doing one thing for a time, then doing another and creating balance in this turn-taking fashion over the course of a month or a season or a year.  I can see now that for me the Portfolio Project game was an experiment in balance through turn-taking, and for me I think this will be a very helpful model for my future work.

To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Podcast: Finishing

Photo: Bridge in the sky, Central Park. Diana F+ with Velvia 50 film.

We're in the finishing season of the Portfolio Project game, and depending on your personality you may be cheering or perishing.  Today's podcast is for you!  I am sad that it is a dry day here in the apartment, so I'm gulping my tea again, but if you can persevere through it you will take away a nice portion of inspiration for your finish. If you have questions or any other topics you'd like me to cover in these podcasts, leave them below.  I can't promise anything, but if you have a topic about which I have something to say--I'll do it.  I'll take requests.  In the meantime, I'll be uploading Diana shots to my flickr stream.

To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Restoration, Inspiration, Celebration

Photo: Bicycle cabs outside of Central Park

Restoration, inspiration, celebration.  Before playing the Portfolio Project game, I didn't feel particularly clear or strong in any of these areas, and yet these are among the gems I am taking away from this experience.  Listen below to find out how I traded in cracking the whip for a kinder, gentler way of working.  Tell us in the comments about how these things have shown up so far in your game, or which one(s) you are inviting into your strong finish.

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Portfolio Project Midpoint Gallery Show

Photo by Karyn Kelbaugh, who says, "The process has certainly been about highs and lows, or more so about plenty and drought.  When I have inspired ideas, like I did today, they come in a flood and usually at the most inconvenient times, and then when I desperately need inspiration, it hides from me.  I have found however that even if I have no ideas, if I just start shooting, the ideas start to come anyway."  Karyn blogs at Mundane Details. wwaddell By photographer Whitney Waddell. You must see her entire Night Portfolio Project.

#5 by Laura Healy
Stepping out into early evening
it is fifteen seconds at most
of standing in the moist air
looking up at the
almost full moon
as the clouds blow past
time to take
maybe one breath
and back into
the beating heart of the house
with its dinner, its child,
a basket of socks.

Laura/TheOtherLaura blogs at One of Three andFor the Time Being

fromchristiane Artwork by Christiane Froehlich, a peace and conflict researcher who is finishing her doctoral thesis during the Portfolio Project.


Photo by Gem, who blogs at Droplets of Devotion. rowena Flying Girl and The Seventh Wave, or Perspective by Rowena Murillo Painting by Jen Lemen. Read more about What 100 Paintings Will Teach You.

I want to thank all the artists who shared their work with us in this Midpoint Gallery Show. Many of them sent me multiple pieces, and it was excruciating to pick just one. I wanted to do a fancy slideshow, but I was getting mired down in the details and had to ditch that idea to keep it fast and dirty. Maybe at the end I'll figure that out. I am so fortunate to be creating alongside each one of you.

Please contact me if you have any corrections to make regarding your credits and links, or if you sent me work and don't see it here. I want to share everything you send me, but with my travels it's possible something may have fallen through the cracks.

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.

our most honest work yet

Photo: My new blue journal, with the first poem inside on the first morning of the year.

The good news in my Portfolio Project game these last few days has been the opportunity to read some of my new work--in person--to some dear friends.  The bad news came this morning, when a little one beat me awake and unrolled my latest roll of film all over the floor.  Mourning all those shots I'll never get again.

Literary merit completely aside, I know I'm doing my soul work over here, and the writing I've done ever since I wrote all the way to the fence has been deeply satisfying.  I'm traveling around with the little journal I started on New Year's Day at Jen's house, and completed just last week.  I was laughing with friends yesterday about the truly deep things that will be found someday in its pages like, "I'm ready for some toast now, or maybe an omelette." (More on my journal-writing philosophy here.)  But it also feels sacred to me, and when I read to my dear ones it becomes my prayer book, and we stand witness together as the mysteries of human wounds and human healing break through the plain-jane words and touch us with unknowable fingers. 

This is my most honest work yet.

Maybe this is the next round of the Portfolio Project game--to relinquish concern and consideration for the perceived quality of our work and to dig deep until we excavate a truer version of ourselves than we've known until now.  To abandon ourselves to our most honest work yet, and to let our dear ones bear witness to our path. (Keep sending me your gems for the Midpoint Gallery Show--jen at jenlee dot net.)

Podcast: Lessons from Month 2

Photo: Greenwich Village, Diana+ with Telephoto Lens

I'm prepping for my storytelling event tonight, so I'm going to just slam this one up this morning and get back to work.

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Bits and Pieces

Photo: Proof that we had at least a couple blue sky days here in my neighborhood. Diana F+ with 55mm Wide-Angle Lens

I felt a small collective panic going around after the last post.  I'll take a moment to add a couple more thoughts about creative companions.  First, with only a couple exceptions, the people in my life who are friends of my work live far away, and like most of you I use blogs and flickr and email and the phone to stay in touch.  Out of the three women I met with last fall, now I'm only meeting with one of them.  These things change and flow. 

I'm flexible--I take what I can get, and I'm not picky, in that you don't have to be "a writer" to be my creative friend.  If Jen and I weren't having technical issues, we could share work via video chat, or just exchange digital images and files.  I've done some really nice phone readings of my new work.  But there's something particularly comforting about seeing someone in the flesh, something about being able to look her in the eyes and see she's dead serious when she says you're doing well, that I cherish.  Scoop this up if you can, but don't let it trip you up.  If an internet creative community is what you have, work it.  Find a way to deepen a connection.

Here's a random knitting update.  After completing the sweater, I made myself these (toast) and one of these (more yarn is on the way). I am honestly wearing all of them right now--even the one boot.  And I feel like magic. For those of you who have been waiting patiently for a Portfolio Project button to display on your own site, I wish I could say your patience paid off with something super beautiful and artsy and fabulous.  But this is the Portfolio Project, where we're keeping it fast and dirty and getting our work done without getting lost down rabbit holes, so it seemed fitting that the button turned out like this: To embed the button on your own site, copy and paste this code:

<a href="http://jenlee.net/index.php/the-portfolio-project/"><img src="http://jenlee.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/button.jpg" alt="" /></a>. 

Many thanks to Justin for building that little cutie for us. The first issue of Voca Femina is live.  Go visit!  You can read my piece, A Voice, Untamed and submit some work of your own. Finally, a little gift to carry you into the weekend.  Here's a piece I wrote about the journey I've been on this last month.

Mini Deadlines and Creative Companions

Photo: Scarves at the Tibetan store, Diana F+ with 55mm Wide-Angle Lens Today's podcast is a special double-issue (hooray) about working with mini deadlines and cultivating creative companions or communities.  I'm off to write write write, but please give us your best tips in the comments below, or leave us links to any updates on your work you have on your own sites.

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Podcast: My Creative Winter

Photo: Prospect Park at dawn, Diana F+ with 55mm Wide-Angle Lens

The Portfolio Project has launched me into a season that I try to avoid hanging out in too long--one that feels like winter to my spring-lovin' soul.  How about you?  Are you walking  a leg of the creative journey that you wish you could just turn away from already?  What part pushes your buttons?  What part is an invitation to expand your capacity? And how, oh how are you guarding your sanity in the meantime?  (If you're just joining the Portfolio Project and have no idea what I'm talking about--don't worry.  Give it a month, then re-listen.)

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Podcast: Focus, and Creating a Life

Photo: 7th Ave. hat stand, Diana F+ with wide-angle lens

When I turned on the microphone this morning, I had no idea how hoarse I was.  I edited out some coughs in an effort to prevent hearing damage for any ear bud-wearers, and it is so hard for me not to edit it all the way.  I just have to remember:  humility.  A slow death for perfectionism. Today I'm thinking about the ways in which the Portfolio Project may be shaping up differently than we imagined, and how we can roll with it and keep going.  I'm realizing that the Portfolio Project is just the latest way I'm choosing to create my life. Listen below.

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Podcast: Let Your Community Hold You

Photo: Daddy Love, Diana F+

I want to thank all of you who have sent me words of encouragement or called to check in, or even sent good wishes for last night's live storytelling event.  The event itself was good, just a little anti-climatic in that it's a "draw the name out of the hat" gig and my name wasn't drawn.  Maybe Monday. I'm letting my community hold me this week, which is the topic of today's podcast.  How do you give or receive support?  What are the little acts of love that keep you going along the way?

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Podcast: In a Funk

Photo: Morning Sky--the heart of Brooklyn in January, Diana F+

How do you manage when you fall into a funk?  Here's my self-care recipe for the week, along with a few thoughts about what got me here.  This isn't at all easy for me--to feel or to talk about, but here it is, just the same.

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Podcast: Gimme a Refill, Please

Photo: Cousin John's, Diana F+ on 35mm How's your work going?  Are you feeling tired or depleted?  Do you think the time you're taking for yourself is indulgent?  If so, today's podcast is just for you.  Give it a listen.

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Can You Stand in the Storm?

Flatbush: A double exposure on the Diana F+.  The B41 bus and One Plaza Street.  Shot on 35mm film. When I first started talking about writing, my husband came home from a business trip with a couple gifts for me:  Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and Stephen King's On Writing. These are now two of my favorite books, but something really stood out to me when I read Bird by Bird for the first time. 

Lamott describes her writing process and the writing life so vividly that it is painful at times.  Her honesty provoked this thought: I've felt and thought those same things, and I thought it meant that I hated writing, but if everyone (or many enough others) feel and think that way and they are Writers, maybe I don't hate it.  Maybe I'm just a writer.

Okay, typing it out like that makes it look pretty lame, but it felt very profound to me at the time. Reading Jen's post this morning reminds me of the ways we fantasize about people who we think are Really Doing It, and how they are probably more together, more mentally stable, more endowed with natural talent and confidence than ourselves.  How life probably leaves them alone, and doesn't disturb their precious concentration with troubles at their kids' school, or relatives who are angry with them, or lay-offs. The part that really got me was when she wrote, "It’s okay to have serious doubts about your talents and abilities. Do your work anyway." 

It's so obvious to me, I think because it's the water I swim in, that it's something I forget to say out loud.  But then I remembered that I used to think and feel these same things and I thought it meant I hated writing--I thought everyone was floating on some cloud of bliss while their hands floated across the page in perfect script. 

So let me just underscore this point today.  I am plagued with serious doubts about my talents and abilities.  Luckily I have safe friends with whom I can speak of these things--people who understand that these get stirred up when you take risks and practice vulnerability.  If they didn't understand this, they would be convinced that I was mentally unwell. I swear it.

Here's another one: every day I sit down without A CLUE about what I'm going to write or to say.  I stare out my window at the light or the dark or the snow or the sidewalk and try to start there somehow, but I'm sure I do the same avoid-that-blank-page shuffle that you do.  Having young kids, I probably just do it for a shorter amount of time than some, viewing it now as a luxury and not a necessity.

Whatever storm you are standing in today, whether it's a storm of circumstances or one of doubt or confusion or fear, see if you can just stand in it.  Watch how it touches you and how it joins you.  See if by receiving it, you can see it transform.  Not one of us is immune to the distraction of circumstances or the grating voice of doubt, but we can choose to see it as part of the package.

Here's a piece from yesterday, when I had nothing to say and only a gentle storm of snow outside my window.  Happy Friday, everyone.


Podcast: The Rabbit Hole

Photo: A perfectly FINE scan from my new Diana F+ camera. Grand Army Plaza and Lion: a double exposure.   Shot on 35 mm film with a fish-eye lens.

Okay, here's a little confession about the rabbit hole I got lost down.  But I am back, reining myself in like a spooked horse.  Whew--that was close.  I almost lost a TON of time, instead of a day or two.  What rabbit holes do you get lost down?

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Podcast: Checking In/Keeping Score

Go ahead.  Pour yourself a cup of your favorite drink and snuggle up for a little check-in about how the Portfolio Project is going for us.  Heaven knows I'm comfortable enough with you to do so--you can hear me sipping away on my tea as I talk! Here is some pure raw material, in the hopes you can mine something useful for yourself.

**Update** Photo shop in Manhattan says they can do the service I'm looking for, for only a minimum of $25 PER FRAME.  Looks like it's going to be one of THOSE days. You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Distract and Derail

Photo by Devan


Collusion, by Jen Lee
It is working in collusion with her body--that part of her that is afraid. Most people want to know their greatness, but those who get a glimpse know: it can be debilitating.
The chorus of inner voices takes a deep breath and crescendos: "From she who is given much, much is required." She sees her own chest of treasures and slumps. Much. Much. Much. That pounding you hear is the construction of her coffin. The voices of her fears have already finished this story, speckled with words like "unfulfilled promise" and "great potential". The tragedy of her failure, dripping with her own guilt and culpability. She must not be the villain of this tale, but she cannot see herself as the heroine.
She will have to settle for victim.
No one can blame the victim. Nothing is her fault. And so the part of her that is afraid makes a deal with her body--with or without the rest of her knowing. If her body will help her avoid responsibility, will prevent her from ever having to step into her greatness (and failing), she will make it the center of her world.
Her body is happy to oblige.
Soon her days and hours are filled with feeling poorly, with looking diligent as she hunts down the source of her ailments with endless appointments and tests and experts. No one can blame her--she has tried it all.
The outcome of the story is the same as the voices of her fears prophesied, with one exception. She has achieved one success. She has shifted the blame. No longer the villain, she is the doe-eyed victim of Unseen Forces. No one would ever guess--including the part of herself that likes not to know better--that the Unseen Force is a suicidal poison.
What hope has she? Only this: to wake up. To touch that snake called Responsibility and wrap it around her neck. Her one last hope is to be the heroine. To pull back the curtain on her little scheme--to let her body and her fears know the jig is up.
She can save herself.

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.




Podcast: The Future You Are Building

Photo: Amelia sporting vintage Jen Lemen, and a tiara. According to my tracking information, today is my lucky day.  My new camera is scheduled to arrive.  I can hardly think of anything else.  I am excited to add a visual piece to my Portfolio Project (behind schedule as it is), and to be a blind beginner in one of the forms I'm practicing during the game. So maybe today, there are some of you who are only just now warming up to the idea of this game, but you're certain it's too late now for you to play with the rest of us.  No such thing!  I am only beginning my photography this weekend (given I'll probably be swimming in the manual today).  Latecomers, consider this an official invitation to join the game.

I'd love to hear about what future you are building with your Portfolio Project--please tell us in the comments, or link back if you post about this on your own site. You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.


Podcast: Other Things We're Not Doing

As promised, here's the rest of my conversation with Jen on New Year's Day, since you all have a far greater tolerance for hearing us go on than we ever imagined.  In this segment, we talk about things we're NOT doing while we play the Portfolio Project game, and a few efficiency ideas we're kicking around. So, how about you?  What are you NOT doing?  How are you streamlining your routines--while you're working, or to make time to work?  Share them in the comments section below, and we'll grow our collective wisdom.

You can subscribe to the Portfolio Project podcast here. To start at the beginning of the project, go here.