Welcome to my blog! I love to write as well as capture life in photographic images. I use this space for whatever comes to mind... random ideas, wobbly ruminations, haikus, imperfect poetry, rants, and various projects. I hope that some of these words resonate with you in some small way.
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
I love this image of one of many cement street barriers, placed early in 2020, as borders for restaurants to create "parklets" to serve their customers outside during the different distancing phases of the Covid-19 pandemic. This "barrier" in Escondido, CA (north San Diego county) is one of many placed all along their historic center on Grand Avenue and painted by local artists and community members. I put barrier in quotes because it's ironic that we use a barrier to help bring people back together.
This one is also very symbolic, in particular, for it's message, "Creativity Takes Courage" combined with it's placement on a cement barrier. For me, "courage," requires the will to place what you want to do above your fear of doing it. Sometimes that is a simple leap of faith, sometimes that is an agonizing jump off of a cliff. Either way, the barriers we create for ourselves often seem impenetrable like a block of cement.
Common barriers... do any of these sound familiar to you?
Yep, I'm pretty good friends with all of these demons on different levels. You can't make them go away, and that's ok. It's way more fun and interesting to have gentle conversations with them and let them hang out in the fringe... and say "So what! I'll do it anyway!"
One of the most impactful things my creativity coaches have taught me is how to use these negative influences to better my work, to motivate (aka nudge) instead of paralyze, to identify the really good parts and celebrate my successes.
The most important thing is small steps.
Nourish and Flourish Magazine caught up with Katherine Zimmer, one of our favorite creative contributors located in Napa, California, to see how folks on the West Coast are managing and staying positive during this challenging time. She is a photographic artist, writer, and successful corporate marketing professional with decades of experience in tourism, nonprofit, and digital information industries. She has intertwined her training as a personal brand strategist and creativity coach throughout her marketing career to enhance the teams behind the brands. In the face of the pandemic, she has also had to refocus her career path to follow her dream of creativity coaching and helping people realize their inspired paths. We asked her to share her thoughts on mindful gift giving for the holidays and other occasions. Here is what she had to say.
The Art of Mindful Gift Giving
I think we can all agree that this year has been remarkable, devastating in some areas and bringing gifts in others. Our lives have been significantly altered, no doubt, mine included. I have always been a creative soul and have known that I need to express myself creatively and consistently to keep my sanity. When I don’t, I flounder and move toward mindless spaces that are closer to existing than thriving. My artistic outlet is primarily photography with occasional spurts of writing. I also poured a lot of creativity into the corporate marketing jobs I’ve held for decades, but my life in the working world was transformed in March along with so many others.
Most of you have told yourselves that you don’t have a creative bone in your bodies. Luckily, this gift is not contained in our bones. Our expressive “bones” are in our senses: our hearts, eyes, ears, noses, stomachs, and touch–where we feel things.
One of the amazing gifts that 2020 has brought to me is watching so many people discover creative ways to cope with the chaos and their life-altering decisions, many of which we have no control over. After going down the rabbit holes of Netflix, Amazon, and Zoom, we came up for air, slowed down, and looked around. What we saw was inspiration! The idea of taking small steps toward change grabbed our attention.
You are crafting, cooking, baking, photographing, painting, building things, and redecorating your homes. You’re learning a lot about interesting things like astronomy, mixology, gardening, butterflies, music, and reinventing who you are. And you’re getting to know your kids (and pets!) by exploring the world through their eyes. Exercise found renewed meaning. It’s fun again to bicycle and stroll and do yoga when you have time to be aware of your environment.
Then the completely unexpected started happening. Your friends across town brought you vegetables from their gardens, and you reciprocated with a favorite bottle of wine and fresh baked cookies. The kids up the street left painted rocks on your steps, and you delighted them with big smiles and waves from a distance. Your brother found his calling playing the ukulele from the neighbor’s yard sale; you collaged its vintage case. Our porches, stoops, and mailboxes are now gift receptacles for magical things that warm our hearts.
I hope you didn’t think I was going to just offer up a shopping list of mindful gifts to buy for this holiday season! I’m very confident that you have a new awareness of what your loved ones are doing and needing. They’ve been finding their inner artists over these crazy months as well.
Being present and engaged with their creative spirits will give you insightful ideas. It’s okay if you don’t make the gift yourself. Giving a thoughtful gift, one that connects you to their heart’s inspiration, is just as wonderful. Looking for gifts in smaller, unique places will give you the gift of being the conduit from the artisan’s creative spirit to your gift recipient’s heart.
Bringing appreciation to the personal artisan creations all around us is what this beautiful magazine issue is all about. Seek out a maker’s market, small local art gallery, bakery, vintage shop, a garden store, or the neighbor’s seed exchange stand. Discover treasures that make you smile while thinking of the person you’re shopping for. Or simply thumb through our pages and go shopping online through the maker’s eCommerce stores and have that special gift delivered directly to your loved one’s front door. It’s that easy.
I’ll leave you to ponder a favorite quote from Lewis Hyde’s book The Gift: “The spirit of an artist’s gifts can wake our own.” Whether that gift is the creative talent or the result of it in the form of an object to give, if it resonates, it will wake your spirit.
• • •
I’ve recently had the amazing opportunity to write a couple articles for the national magazine, Nourish & Flourish, which believes that locally sourced food and products matter to our health, quality of life and communities. The Fall issue is out now and will be in most Barnes & Noble’s and many Whole Foods.
In this issue they feature "Main Street Mercantile" an artisanal gift guide featuring carefully selected participants who use ecologically sustainable methods and produce the highest quality of goods made in America.
I’ve written a feature article called “The Art of Mindful Gift Giving: Finding creativity and inspiration during remarkable times” and also contributed to the feature on my dear friends at Stone & Glass Gallery & Studio.
Order your copy today for direct and safe delivery!
Links to more info and sharing!
Nourish and Flourish is a 112 page coffee-table quality publication featuring original photography and award-winning design and art direction produced by experienced creative professionals.
The Tuscan night is chilly in November as she briskly strolls, balancing on her heels, almost hovering above the ancient cobblestones. She loves fresh flowers.
The chrysanthemums this year are bright pink. Beautiful, but in Italy they are still associated with funerals...like the Lily she is named after. She hates being named after a death flower.
Rosa, at the flower stand often commiserates with her about their organically ornate names, but right now it’s 3am and she is too preoccupied setting up for the early business shoppers to engage in idle repetitive chit chat no matter how Italian that daily social task is.
Lily’s not really in a hurry, it’s more the chill that pushes her. She only has an orange tabby named Figaro and an espresso ahead of her. Maybe a little sleep, if her neighbors across the hall in the tiny piazza apartment can soothe their newborn.
Her hat blocks the harsh light cascading down from the randomly placed, bizarrely Art Deco poles. She’s still wearing it. She knows it’s the middle of the night, but it shields her from the prying eyes of other nocturnal dwellers. Her life is none of their business.
“Red is the color of a harlot,” her married lover had the nerve to say the night after the day that she bought the coat. Lily told him that red was the color of a woman with power.
These five images and short descriptions were entered into a juried competition at The Photographer's Eye Gallery in Escondido, CA. None of them made the exhibition, but I really enjoyed this process. Imagery places a visual on our thoughts and feelings that we otherwise couldn't express.
"Living and Photographing in the Time of Covid-19"
Image #1: Gnome
Image #2: Cat
Image #3: Tree
Image #4: Quail On The Fence
Image #5: Tom’s Chair
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© 2021 Katherine Zimmer