White on Black


Feather on Block Island State Beach: Photo by Noelle

I am enthralled with light. The right sort of light is the hunger at the heart of my black and white photography. That moment when the piece I am working with suddenly strikes this perfect balance of white on black. As if a piece of me suddenly solidifies out of the ether, into this very potent now, that did not exist before.

Possibly it did not exist.

Maybe we are all manifesting ourselves, moment to moment, by what we create and connect within our lives. Versions of ourselves no different than photography filters. Each choice, each passion, each belief, steadily constructing this moment’s version of ourselves, that could change with the next decision.

It’s said that the distance between molecules is so great within us, that we are really made up of more nothing than something. That at a subatomic level what we think we are is ether, nothingness, vast empty landscapes of potentiality waiting to erupt into existence. Dynamic vapors each of us, winking into existence over and over again at such high speeds, we appear like something out of nothing. I am a snapshot, then another, and another after that. Each a version of myself I am in existence for the briefest of times before I wink out and become something new and fresh again.


Visit From My Old, Atlantic Friend: Photo by Noelle

In photography, I can pull out light and deepen shadows, dramatically altering the quality of an image. I can tweak the shades of gray and imbue a scene with opalescent highlights.  I can do this in character and perspective, too. Change who I am, drawing out more of one quality over another. I need only change my mind, make a new decision, intend something I have never intended so powerfully before.

These days I lean toward more light, less darkness, but it’s there – my shadow side. She is, in every sense an old, if not often a deluded friend. But her delusions about how the world works, have just become the backdrop for seeing my way into more profound truths. My darker side is not an aberration, but part of my artistry.  A necessary depth in the dimensional me I come to learn anew each day.  She lurks in the dark spots of the wave, the dense parts of mountainsides, the vanishing portion of a blade of grass. My shadow is what sets the stage for my light.


Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

It’s clear there is always some focal point or object at the center of my search in each image. Yet, it can only come by its contrast to structures around it that are darker. The contrast of white on black shows me something I came to see. When I slip into my imperfections, my ugliness, my sense of brokenness I am then, as with the photography, really looking for the light in the center of that now moment.  My ego can confuse me into thinking it’s the darkness I have come to wallow in, but that is a delusion, too. I am walking in the dark, allowing it to show me where my lights are.  I am feeling my way, rather than thinking my way to my edges or lack of any sometimes.

Look at any of these images and the sea of darkness far outweighs the light. In fact, at a qualitative level, the intensity of the light is in direct proportion to the amount of darkness that surrounds it. The greater the sea of darkness the more intense the bits of light.


Old Harbor, Block Island, RI: Photo by Noelle

Dark matter in the Universe, in a sense, seems to work this way, too. We can not see it with any known measuring scale or technique because it interacts with nothing known to us. We know it exists, however, by its gravitational pull on the objects we do see. It is the force that surrounds the things illuminated to us.

I feel this inside of me. The more I turn into what disturbs me, darkens my doorway, makes me want to pull away from myself, only accents how powerfully light the other parts of me are. They go hand and hand, this white on black.  I am more complex by my awareness of all sides of my nature, not diminished by this awareness.


Wildflowers in a dark wood: Photo by Noelle

All of this is really to say we do not understand the darkness.

We do not appreciate its value, weight, and importance in understanding what we deeply wish to see. That each goes hand and hand with the other. We have such fear of pain and suffering we can not perceive what part darkness plays in our lives, inside our psyche, or in how things are unfolding all around us. We break things down into good or bad, right or wrong, but this really robs us of a larger context and meaning to the people, places, and things we interact with.


Wild on the trail, Colorado: Photo by Noelle

I look upon the shadows cast by these mountain trail wildflowers. They are of the flowers, of course, and yet they have a beauty unto themselves that changes throughout the day, as the sun moves across a boundless sky. The beauty of the flowers is bolder against the dark shadows that dance around them all day long. Even more delicious, the darkness of the shadow can only be experienced by the white sand that rests beneath the shadows themselves. White on black, black on white.

When I look at how my own goodness has come to me, or maybe it is better to say floated to the surface and shown itself, it’s on its arrival in my darkest moments. Its weight and quality are not understood exclusively alone, but by how I perceived the darkness around these pieces of luminescence within me. Or how it seems the darkness itself refracts back to me a light, I could’ve only seen by the very darkness I dreaded to face inside of myself.

I look at the image below and feel a deep sense of peace as the light of small leaves rises out of the dark forest floor. I understand the balance I feel inside myself, as the image finds its right balance of white on black.

So much of me is light petals on dark, earthy mulch.


In a wood near Allenspark, CO: Photo by Noelle

If you enjoyed this piece, I would be honored if you checked out my book, Into Your Meditation available by clicking on this link or the one on the upper right  hand sided of this post.

Welcome Ravished Guests

State Beach, Block Island

Low Tide, Block Island, photo by Noelle

The surf comes slow and steady, lapping quietly only a few feet away, and never desists. She seems a persistent child, playfully pulling me ever further away from my thoughts. I match my breathe to her comings and goings, at first a difficult task. I am full of the busyness of life at work and the chaos of travel. Yet, after a time, she in her great depths and I in my shallowness upon the beach become one. My muscles sink deeply into the sand, as I rest motionless upon the towel.

Tide's Arrival

State Beach, Block Island photo by Noelle

At mid-morning, the beach is not yet busy, and the gull’s calls are distinct from the din that comes with afternoon beach goers. I open one eye and see a large gray-breasted gull inching toward me. He is surveying for any booty to steal, pirate thief that he is. His beak nods dismissively, as he finds nothing and walks on down the beach. I find a sudden longing that he stay awhile longer. He speaks to me of sea and sky, salt and sand.

The ocean laps, my eye closes and the meditation drops deeper still.


Beach Access, photo by Noelle

There is no effort in this sort of meditation.

The Earth and sea work on me, as they have on the driftwood that litters the beach around me. Softening my edges, tempering my life force, wearing away abrasiveness, leaching from me all that is no longer essential to my purpose and form. Clues are there – tasty salt upon my lips, a breeze lifting my hair – that unseen forces work steadily at this disassembly. An effortless altering of my biochemistry. We think it’s back to some baseline peaceful state, but I think it’s to a new version of me at peace that is forming. I am not the same, as I was before. The same as other peaceful times. The quality I know as peace, changes as I change. Each return to me, from a wound up person in the throes of life, shows me a me I have yet to meet.


State Beach, Block Island photo by Noelle

Thoughts barely rise, before the sun evaporates them off my mind blurring my sense of where I end and the sand begins. This feels essential. A kind of reset where I am wiped totally clean before rebooting to my new form. It is hard to remember when I used to lie here and pull my other life with me onto the beach towel. Endless, frenzied thoughts about life elsewhere, hardly noticing the call of the sea and the gulls. Somewhere inside of me, I think I have always known my troubles only existed if I kept thinking about them. That they would evaporate if I wasn’t there tending to them and where would that leave me? If I gave up thinking about them, then I might not exist anymore either, for who was I without them?

What a tragedy, not being me, once seemed.

Malingering at the Lagoon

Block Island, photo by Noelle

Now I call the wind and the sea to me, ravish guests to an abundant feast. There is nothing I won’t give them. There is nothing they can’t have. This ship has beached here and has lost all defenses. Pirate gulls and marauding wind, my treasures, such as they are, are yours for the taking.

If you enjoyed this piece, you can find more in my book of meditations called “Into Your Meditation” available on Lulu.com, Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Reflection on Water


Reflection on Water. Vancouver, BC by Lionel Phillippe

A softness opens within me
Mirrored deftly by a wind that
Envelopes my skirt and
Lifts a hair off my brow

The more I let go
The subtler I become
Welcomed joyously as a child
Dashes to the surf

No resistance to the careful way
Spirt rearranges my soul
Look how pliable and
Permeable I am!

I grow upwards a great seaweed forest
Blooming beneath summer waves
So porous that light – refracts
Passing through and pooling in my hands
Dhyana Mudra

Laughter reverberates off every wall
Yet a warm dark nothingness is plain and
So deep it can’t be touched
Love ever present

I skid across its quiet, mysterious surface
A reflection, a flicker
A precious nugget of time
A single tick on an infinite clock

See my light dance
Wave to wind
Wind to wave
I am this for only a second

Time passes, I grow softer still
Till one day I am so gentled
I slip back into the deep
A shaft of light
Embraced fully, richly
By a more loving tide

Double-U Trifecta

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

I stand in the parking lot and let the wind and snow penetrate my clothes. I think of standing at bus stops as a kid waiting on the bus for school or trudging home from after-school jobs because my mother forgot to pick me up. She wasn’t mean, just a little ADD and most certainly not on time for a single event in her life. She’d always say, “There you are!” as if she’d been looking for me a good while or naturally expected me to arrive out of thin air.
Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

It’s occurred to me, of late, that my problems as they relate to the notion of waiting really do stem from this. Years of waiting for my mother to be ready to leave or to show up. I’m not blaming her now. Just aware where this whole crazy waiting bus got started.
Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

Christianity, as a rule, teaches a lot of waiting, too. Waiting to be worthy for things, waiting on God’s good graces to slide your way. Not knocking the Christians either. Like my mother who got her “waiting” from somewhere else, then passed it on to me, the Christians have been passing it along, too. The rolling wave of work hard, worthiness and waiting. A ‘Double-U” trifecta that forms the worst sort of box. Always feeling like you have to prove yourself somehow. Push more, demonstrate more, work harder, than wait for that tipping scale when your worthiness reaches some magical goodness quotient and all that you strive for will arrive.
Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

As I stand and feel the snow beginning to cover my lashes it occurs to me I shall let this wind take these old notions out to sea. They no longer serve me. The whip has cracked long enough at my back. The old beggar woman inside of me is finally turning to dust on this gale. How absolutely lovely to know that. Really know it down deep somewhere near my solar plexus. Like a winter sun suddenly pulsating into a white wind.

Now… ah, now, to live it.

Photo by Noelle

Photo by Noelle

Peace of Snow

Bird Eagle Snowfall

Bird Eagle Snowfall

The silence pulls me and I offer no resistance. The flakes swirl past the window and I could fall forward, Alice down the rabbit hole. I was born in winter. My name conjures up winter, my colors are winter, my very nose smells the scent of it a month before it arrives. Everything about it fuels my engines and releases me from a thousand worries. I cannot explain it. Winter heals me. Snow invigorates everything I love within myself.

I sit watching the snow fall now, thick and dense. The world of human chaos comes down with it. The streets empty and the store fronts close. Mother Nature calls all to home, soup to the stove and a fire burning steadily into the night.



This is the peace of snow.

Yellow Submarine

Electrical lines, South Valley Park, Ken Caryl, CO

Electrical lines, South Valley Park, Ken Caryl, CO

As I look upon the post-processed images I often feel I have stepped into another life. A life separate from the hike that actually took place. As if I have been given a second life laid on top of the first where art, light, and shadow burst into life and I get to live the experience in some other fashion. I see the blues and blacks or deep yellows inside the photographs as if through Yellow Submarine glasses. Glasses that alter the reality of the land into patterns of shapes and highlights. Nothing is really the same in the image as it was on the trail. The other senses are suddenly shut down and my inner eye is the only thing firing on all cylinders.

I am also different, curled up under a blanket, nose deep into my smartphone. I am pouring back out within a very tight focus, what the trail poured in.

South Valley Park, Ken Caryl, CO: Photo by Noelle

South Valley Park, Ken Caryl, CO: Photo by Noelle

South Valley Park, Ken Caryl, CO: Photo by Noelle

South Valley Park, Ken Caryl, CO: Photo by Noelle

I see the four Beatles long-legged images from the Yellow Submarine poster flash through my mind. The psychedelic movie and madcap song that have nothing to do with dirt trails, but in my artistic mind they seem connected. I am distorting the image, the way their music often distorted our minds. A little Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds again. Nothing is as it seems.

Electrical lines, South Valley Park, Ken Caryl, CO

Electrical lines, South Valley Park, Ken Caryl, CO

I am there in the image, as I was when I took it, but I am also not there now, as the image has a life of its own separate from the hike. I am hearing birds and feeling the frost, but as I tweak the image I hear Ringo Starr’s throatier voice proclaiming that we all do live in a yellow submarine.

The beauty of all creative endeavors is they shift our focus, even if only briefly, from what we believe is real, to what is also real, but must be powered by our psycho-emotive-spiritual energy. My creative world is no less real to me than the feeling of cliff face beneath my hand.

Bear Lake Valley Park, Morrison, CO: photo by Noelle

Bear Lake Valley Park, Morrison, CO: photo by Noelle

A few years back my friend, Juan Crocco in Chile turned me onto photography. Up until then photography was for me just people standing by monuments taking pictures of themselves or photo albums filled with images of children opening up Christmas presents. I didn’t even own a camera and hadn’t taken an a photograph in over a decade. I’m not particularly nostalgic, so have never spent much time looking at photo albums. In my last couple of house moves I had, in fact, jettisoned ninety percent of my photographs and albums.

McCook Point, Niantic, CT: Photo by Noelle

McCook Point, Niantic, CT: Photo by Noelle

McCook Point, Niantic, CT: Photo by Noelle

McCook Point, Niantic, CT: Photo by Noelle

Juan encouraged me to take photographs while hiking as a mindfulness exercise. I was going through a rough patch and he thought this might help. Wise man. It did more than help. It healed me.

I interact with images taken not as an observer to what had been there, but what I might find now. I am on a treasure hunt. Seeking shadows and reflected light. There’s a conversation going on between myself and the image. I am not cataloging my hikes. I’m talking to myself in symbols and abstractions that affect me deeply at an emotional level. Thus, for me, photography isn’t about what was there, so much as it is about what is now inside me being viewed through the effected image. An inner art I am not aware of until I begin to work with the image. It’s this crazy blending of photography and my own personal mojo that creates something else entirely in the end. I live the joy of the hike and then I live the joy of the art.

Winter Prairie at Day Break: Image II: Photo by Noelle

Winter Prairie at Day Break: Image I: Photo by Noelle

Winter Prairie at Day Break: Image III: Photo by Noelle

Winter Prairie at Day Break: Image II: Photo by Noelle

This pattern, now rooted in me, has become a pattern of living and altering, experiencing and awakening. It has been growing like prairie weeds out of the images and into my day to day life. There is what is here in this moment, physically and then there is what is in this moment more abstractly. The things in my life that live as highlights on the edges of things. Shadows that create contrast not darkness or fear. I want to alter my vision. Don my Yellow Submarine glasses and see that world from some other angle entirely. To live with a little psychedelic energy in my soul. Not through drugs or other altering substances but through the spirit in me. The bigger eye that sees so deeply into things the things I look at deeply change.

“In the town where I was born
Lived a man who sailed to sea
And he told us of his life
In the land of submarines

So we sailed up to the sun
Till we found the sea of green
And we lived beneath the waves
In our yellow submarine”


“Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, album cover art by George Martin

Moon Prayer

From: thejournal.ie

From: thejournal.ie

When I was younger my following of new age spirituality was, if I’m wholly honest, more about novelty than any meaningful appreciation for the ideas. I was looking for an out from what I grew up with. Not that there was anything wrong with what I grew up with, other than it was what I grew up with. Now, as I grow older, I find myself revisiting many new age thoughts. More from the heart, rather than my typical brain level. As I dig deeper a richness that was apparently lost on me before unfold from my center.

I watched the eclipse last night in all its blood moon glory. As she came out of her dark phase and her sliver of light fell upon me it seemed not only right, but very powerful to contemplate a prayer to such an opalescent moon. Kneeling on the lawn in my urban neighborhood I found myself immediately connected to millions of native tribes around the world. Each attuned to the earth and the skies. Humble and grateful for the very pulse of the heavens. I find an appreciation, not only my life, but all life naturally fills me the moment my feet touched the grass. The intimacy of Source Energy comes up through the earth and rises up my legs, as it pours down upon my head and wraps itself around my arms with the subtlest breeze. There is no waiting when your skin touches the earth. Love is poured into you, as cool water into a great urn.

How strange it seems to me that we have, in many of the world’s religions, forsaken this extraordinary intimacy. An intimacy that feels more natural than any pew or scripture, but can only be known at a level that seems to lack any description. Maybe to the human brain, this is its offense. That we can know you and yet not describe or confirm any boundary or limit or specificity to you. Maybe all religion is, is the outward manifestation of our inner madness at this affront. We cannot wholly know you, so we will stomp our feet and defy you and say that we can. We are, as a species, nothing if not stubborn. I smile, realizing I am also talking of my own stubbornness.

The crickets creek, the tall grasses rustle and the owl hoots in the marsh. It is clear we are all ready to pray.

May your luminescence fill me. Fill every pour of my being and ignite every cell. May your wisdom and gentle balancing of the earth and the tides, be a balancing within me, as well. May I cast this gift of light I take from you tonight, everywhere I go. May I be a full moon in the dark night of others that I, too, become a beautiful celestial body floating in this Universe. Not only on this night, but in all the days of my life.

Namaste, my dear friend.

From: Earthsky.org

From: Earthsky.org



Seed: Photo by Noelle

As the night’s cool, even if the days have not, my mind ponders the autumn. A sacredness for transition points has settled into my soul of late. The awareness that one thing is ending and something else has not yet bloomed. I feel that inner toggle switch laying idle in my hand, as there is no clear direction yet to take. One season eases out slowly in the daylight hours, while another is tiptoeing in at night. I find myself embracing, more and more, in-between spaces and allowing the peace it brings to sink deeply into me. Intuitively, I see the power in their lack of direction or action.

There was a time when everything in my life had to have some clear direction. Some plan, clear outcome, a certainty provided on the front end that all would be well. I realize our entire culture has built this need for safeguards and assurances in. We have insurance polices for every possible eventuality. Contracts to ensure everything goes according to plan or someone else will be at fault if it doesn’t. We have schedules and calendars and smartphones that offer alerts so nothing can be forgotten. We are all so afraid of the unknown, the unexpected, the misdirection, which, in the end is never a misdirection. Spiritually speaking, we are always going in the right direction. It can only be the wrong direction by our reaction and resistance to where we are.

I’ve come to understand the weakness in the constant hunger to know where things are going. A hunger that is always driven by fear. Given how little we can predict ahead, I was surprised when it dawned on me how much of my life I’d lived with a low-grade anxiety. Constantly seeking ways to know the future or like some boy scout, be prepared for every possibility. For a woman who would never describe herself as anxious, it was a revelation.

Now I watch the leaves turn as a summer wind lifts the edges of my skirt. I sense myself leaving a number of things, but also feel no clear planting of my feet into something else. An older version of me wants to pull out the notepad and make lists so something can be accomplished to get it all moving to somewhere. I smile and breathe down her fear. She’s worried nothing will get done. She’ll end up wallowing in no man’s land without a life. She’ll miss the boat, she’ll be left behind. Oh, the calamity of no plan!

Today, I’ll just enjoy being nowhere. The sun is up and there are hours left to play. As a destination, nowhere is a grossly underrated place to be. If I possess any doubt about this all I need do is stop and listen. Ah, see, starlings have filled the cattail beds.

Bare Feet

Bare Feet: Photo by Noelle

Bare Feet: Photo by Noelle

I remember Wayne Dyer speaking of walking on grass in bare feet whenever he couldn’t sleep. He traveled so much that he’d learned to do this whenever it was possible and found he slept well, with little jet lag. He believed the body finds rhythm when it touches, intimately, the earth.

Sleep, for this menopausal woman, is an art form I am determined to master. So sandals in hand I stepped onto the grass. The sprinkler system had run earlier and the grounds were all wet. The water was cold, but the air warm enough it wasn’t unpleasant. I began walking the lawn planning on a tour or two before donning my shoes and finishing my walk. I found the cool, soft feeling of the grass so pleasant though, that I lingered.

After a time, I stepped out onto the cement sidewalk, and then the hard-packed dirt and scrub grass of the further path. Each sensation registered in my feet with acute awareness. Seeds stuck to my soles, some hard and older, many soft and fuzzy. I felt the ragged edge of a stone and the cushioned step of a bed of dandelions. A burr in my little toe stopped me short and was remedied just as quickly. Without shoes each step registered clearly in my mind. The weight and length of each stride became a mantra of sorts. Surfaces were rough or soft, warm or cold, hard or permeable and the impression of each experience kept me keenly aware of where I was. Not merely lost in thought, but lost in sensation.

I walked without shoes for almost an hour.

When I was a child I spent all summer free of shoes. My soles would be tough as shoe leather by summer’s end. I traveled woods and lakes, streams and bogs. I loved adventures that involved climbing trees and hopping stones. Huck Finn had nothin’ on this tom boy knee-deep in lake muck looking to catch a painted turtle. As I walked I thought a lot about her, skin tanned, shins scabbed and dirt under every single fingernail.

After a day in front of computers, breathing canned air and pondering life under fluorescent, I find she is a welcome visitor to my mind and my feet. She pushes out a sterility that has settled in on the shirt tail of professional attire, heels and security badges. The walk has turned from an exercise in sleeping to one of being awake.

If anyone’s interested I slept seven hours straight. Thank you, Wayne….

Northwest Wind

Tall grasses, South Valley Park: Photo by Noelle

Tall grasses, South Valley Park: Photo by Noelle

Seductive and enticing, my consummate lover calls me out. The northwest wind blows warm and wraps about my legs and runs his fingers through my hair. The trees lean and the leaves turn their bellies up, silver and ribbed. He whispers to me of summer, but I am old and wise and know he really is the harbinger of autumn. All of this stroking of my skin, as if he had all night to love me, is but an allure away from the cooler temps that come behind his bold heat. I smile and let myself be seduced. That is what northwest winds are for – to be deliciously deceived, if but for a moment.