Baggage Check

We all have complicated histories. When was the last time your past experiences informed a major decision you made?

You may call it baggage, as if it’s unnecessary junk. But we are who we are because of what we’ve done. Where we’ve been. What we’ve learned — or failed to learn.


It shapes us, gives us character and makes us interesting. Experience is life.

A better question would have been when have past experiences not influenced major decisions? Presumably the point of experience is to apply it and avoid past mistakes. Use it to make better choices as we trudge along our paths.

If not that, life is just random chance. I’d prefer to think our experience make us smarter. Better able to deal with whatever life throws at us.

We don’t have to haul all our angst with us, but we ought to learn from it. At the very least.



Welcomed by a singing bird. I think it’s an Eastern Kingbird. Can anyone confirm this or otherwise identify this guy? I managed to grab a pretty good shot of him before he flew away.

It was good to be back at the pond.


It was our first trip to the pond in 2014. I was wondering how the swans fared through this terrible winter. I don’t have a complete answer, but there are swans on Whitins Pond. And they are nesting. We saw two swans today.


One was sitting on the nest. The other came right up to us. I wished I’d remembered to bring some bread. He was clearly hoping for a handout!


Hard winters — like this one that seems to have finally passed — take a toll on water fowl. The pond freezes for long periods of time and there is little or nothing to eat. The heavy snow makes it difficult to hide from the weather.


I’m glad we still have some swans. A few of my pictures today and I’ll try to process some of Garry’s tomorrow.



A friend asked me how I can show parts of my life that a lot of people think are too personal to share. I write about my life and I picture my home — office, kitchen, bedroom, etc. I hadn’t thought about it much. I was focused on words, pictures and light. For me, it was a writing or visual challenge. What it revealed about me was part of the deal. That’s what artists do, right? Reveal bits of themselves through their art, whatever it may be.

Still, it was a good question and got me thinking.

Marilyn Herself 9

The willingness to stand naked in front of strangers, in front of the world, is at the core of being any kind of artist. If you can’t let the world really see you, you won’t create things that feel “true.” Honesty is an essential ingredient in connecting with people through any medium.

Years ago when I was just starting to write, my work was flat. I never understood what was wrong exactly, but I knew it wasn’t good. I persisted, endlessly submitting material to editors hoping someone would like one of my stories enough to publish it. One day, an editor took the time to tell me what she felt was wrong with my writing.

“You write,” she said, “As if you’re afraid your mother is going to read it.”

She had hit the nail on the head. I really was afraid my mother would read it. Literally. Moreover, I was afraid I’d hurt someone’s feelings or reveal a secret about myself I didn’t want known. My fear of emotional exposure completely blocked my writing, It was only after my mother and brother passed I finally wrote something honest.

When people tell you to write about what you know, they don’t mean merely you should write about familiar places and situations. They mean you should draw on your life experiences and feelings.

I’ll never be a world-class artist, but I know my best work — photographic or literary — has all come from someplace pretty deep inside me.

You can’t fake art. You’ve got to feel it.