Posts by Laura Yurs
About 15yrs ago, I bought a bike at the urging of some friends. I was just out of college and hadn’t been on a bike since I was 12yrs old. I felt foolish. I felt giddy. I felt really out of shape. I did it anyway. The first time out I felt awkward. I felt pain in my ass from the seat. I felt silly. I felt exhilarated. I proceeded to fall in love with my bike. I learned to trail ride and jump logs. I learned to ride down stairs. I rode in the mud…I fell in said mud. I laughed. I bought toe clips and biking gloves…handle bar extensions. I rode everyday. I loved it. I once tried to jump a curb at a busy intersection in our city and missed. I landed, quite painfully, on my side…my legs dangling in the street…my bike in peril with oncoming traffic. I tore the muscles in my side, knocked the wind out of myself, and all I could whisper to my frantic husband was, “bike. grab bike. grab bike.”
Fast forward a few years (new puppy, house, marriage, new baby) and I found myself riding less and less. I put the bike in storage. Looking back on it, I should have known that was a gigantic red flag waving in my face, but I didn’t see it then. Or perhaps I chose not to see it. Either way, the bike remained in storage for years until my son began wanting to ride his bike beyond our neighborhood street. With my daughter big enough to ride in a Burley, we pulled our bikes out of storage and started a new family tradition. That was four years ago and the tradition continues. In warmer months, we’re out every weekend on our bikes. Downtown, college campuses, the art museum, our neighborhood, city trails….always in search of a new place. For Christmas this past year, I bought my son riding gloves because he kept stealing mine last summer. He’s eager to hit some wooded trails this year and I’m eager to join him. It’s been an awesome way to bond as a family and I’m hoping for bigger biking adventures as they get older. I’ve always wanted to go to Moab. I still love to pedal on my own, too. It’s good therapy.
Been on a bike lately? Give it a go. Create a new tradition. Find a new way to clear your mind. Feel silly. Feel exhilarated. The pain in your ass from the seat doesn’t last long, I promise. Don’t have a bike? Rent one. Don’t feel like riding alone? Find a tour. Live in the Indianapolis area? Check ActiveIndy out!
Cleaning. Deep cleaning. The kind of cleaning normally attributed to a pregnant woman two weeks out from her due date. Top to bottom. Every room, closet, drawer, and shelf purged with great intensity. I’m not preggers…just a woman transforming.
Truthfully, it began a few weeks ago. With the exception of my iPhone, I stopped shooting. No digital. No film. Nada. No desire to lift a camera. That’s when I knew something was shifting within me….changing. Glancing at my film camera, I honestly couldn’t recall what I’d loaded. Portra or Fuji? Hmm…. I almost never leave the house without a camera. More often than not, I have two cameras with me in addition to the iPhone because …why not? More options people!
I’ve felt quiet lately. Still. Maybe a little lost. Inspired by others, but no urge to hold a camera in my hands. A handful of project ideas, but nothing from the soul. Years ago, I would have forced it. I would have obsessed. I would have searched for a deeper meaning. Not this time around. No, this time I stayed with the silence. This time I let go. I let my mind wander. ….And then came the overwhelming urge to clean and organize every square inch of our home. A turning point. Change. For me, it always begins like this…transforming a physical space. And then the answers gradually surface….slowly….
I’ve been thinking about self portraits lately, which is really saying something because I loathe taking them. I’ve been thinking about multiple exposures. I’ve been thinking about the Lensbaby that’s buried deep in my photography bag. I’ve been thinking about rigging some lighting in my basement to play with. Change. I can feel something beginning to bend and shift within…a transformation. Stay tuned.
This past week I finished that roll of film in my Pentax. I guessed Portra 400. Turns out it was Fuji 200. Somehow, I think it’ll be just fine. It felt good to be shooting with it again.
I received this in the mail from a very dear friend a few weeks ago. I love it. I love her. I keep it on my nightstand. It’s a reminder every morning that I am loved….that I have my own individual beauty….that I am enough. Today (err..tonight) I’m sharing that love with all of you.
Once upon a time, I was a task master. I was a vigilant list maker. I set goals and held tight. I was a warrior with a spreadsheet. I was relentless. Also? I missed out on a good portion of my life. I was so busy placing check marks in my daily planner that I missed out on living and connecting with the people IN my life. It’s taken me years to unwind and let go. I worried I’d fall off the edge…shrivel up…fade into nothing. Do you know what happened? I came to life. Color came back into the world…I reconnected. And do you know something else? My personal growth continued in a much more meaningful way. It’s been, undoubtedly, my most important life work. I still have multiple projects going on, I still make lists (just not as rigid and much more realistic), and I still have goals. The difference? I now see these goals as simply guideposts. I remember to leave room for change, for tweaking, for the unexpected beauty that life sends our way.
Shortly after New Year’s Day, I pulled out my iPhone to take note of some project ideas rumbling around inside my head. Additionally, I added a few practical tasks that need attention. ie: clean up external hard drive, update software, catch up on Getty paperwork (I can hear the collective groan of waiver release forms). I jotted down some new things I’d like to try: The Color Run and, most importantly, I left room for life.
What are your guideposts/goals? Are you adding a little adventure in 2013? I’d love to hear about it…
….you’ll find joyful smiles like this to light your way….
I hope you find a few of your own traditions to keep. Ours is reading this before bed….
And above all, I hope you have the happiest of holidays!!
by Laura Yurs
“Tell me about yourself.” My whole life I never know what to say to that statement. I usually stammer, “I…I….” and look down at the floor. Then I mutter, “uh, well….” and then I feel it coming on…heat rising to my face….blushing ensues. My mind goes completely blank and I can barely remember my name. I’m an introvert through and through. ”Still waters run deep.” This describes my mind perfectly. One of the reasons I said yes to the O+U ladies was that I knew it would push me WAY BEYOND my comfort level and that’s exactly where I needed to go.
This month we’re talking ME, ME, ME. Like most of these posts, I’ve avoided it until the last minute because it scares the hell out of me. ”Tell me about yourself.” I’ve been stammering and staring at the floor for days. Yesterday, I pulled out the camera and started shooting randomly around the house and, thus, I’m giving you a random assortment of things about me. Don’t judge. Or rather, do! I don’t care. That’s something new for me. I’m an incredibly sensitive soul. However, the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed a shift deep within my core. I’m still a sensitive soul…I’ll go to my grave a sensitive soul, but I don’t care so much about being judged. If you need to criticize to feel better about yourself, go right ahead. No matter. These days I’m making choices that I feel strongly about and I don’t need to justify them to anyone.
I like Yo Yo Ma. I do. Butterfly’s Day Out is my fave. Also? I feel a tremendous sense of nostalgia for this theme song. I’m curious…oh so curious. I’ve a million things I want to do, learn, see, hear, travel to, etc. I have endless projects underway and feel panicky sometimes that there won’t be enough time to experience all of these things. Next week I turn 37! Woot! I wear very little (if any) make up. Lip gloss. MAYBE mascara. My hair is nearly grown out. I’ll be honest…these days I’m noticing the fine lines and gray hairs in the mirror, but my smile is still the same. And you know what? I’m at peace with the fine lines and gray hairs, really. Signs of a life well lived. I’ve decided not to color my hair, but to wear it like a badge of honor! Hell yes!
I recently became a great auntie!! I’m the last of five children…an “oops!” baby, if you will. My oldest brother is 20yrs older than me and I was 5 when his first child (my niece) was born. I adored her when I was five and I adore her even more today. This little guy is blessed to have such an amazing mama.
I need to mourn this train table and then find another home for it. The kids have not played with it in years. And yet, I feel weepy at the thought of parting with it. At Halloween this year, I made giant spiders out of styrofoam balls and pipe cleaners and pretended like they were attacking the town. See below. The kids laughed really hard and then just sort of stood their looking at me. It was awkward.
These Pantone journals make my heart skip a beat! I’m hoping to have my Christmas stockings stuffed full of these. I started keeping a gratitude journal at the beginning of the year. Do I write in it every day? Child, please. No. I do not. I have written quite a bit, though. Nothing deep or detailed…just little things. When my husband’s grandmother died, we went home for the funeral and found she’d made each of the grandchildren a package: photo album, letter to them, various assortment of things she’d kept for them over the years… All of us sat around her bedroom reading and laughing…crying…remembering and I thought it was the most brilliant idea of hers….a gift to all of us. I vowed to do the same for my children. Years and years from now, I want my kids to have boxes of brightly colored Pantone journals sharing how much I loved them and important things to remember: “Today, while walking in the woods, you held my hand and it made my day.”
Now your turn. Tell me something about yourself! One thing…I’m all ears and an open heart.
by Laura Yurs
This month at O+U, we’re jumping on the “You Are Awesome” train and sharing/celebrating a little bit about ourselves. Perfect timing as I’ve recently (as in, yesterday) accomplished a goal that I’ve been successfully avoiding for two years. Yesterday, with the help of my very good friend Kelley, I spent the afternoon hanging several of my photographs at a local coffee shop.
I am a genuinely introverted, sensitive soul and so much better at encouraging others than I am of heeding my own advice. It is HARD to put yourself out there. I’ve loved the IDEA of having a show. I’ve loved TALKING about having my work on display. Actually doing it? Scary as all hell. Truthfully, walking into that VERY FULL coffee shop yesterday with all of my photos felt like the equivalent of walking in there naked. VULNERABLE. ”what will people say? what will they think? is my work good enough? am i good enough?”….the usual dark questions that keep us from doing what we need to do. I’ve been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and have loved it. He speaks about the importance of doing the work that you are most terrified of. Yesterday, for me, was terrifying and also, much needed self growth.
I love this coffee shop. It’s close to my alma mater and each month they feature a different local artist. Over the summer, I took a deep breath while ordering my coffee and blurted out that I was interested in displaying my photography. I was not eloquent. I blushed. BUT, I did it. And the barista was kind and gave me the email address of the manager. A few days later, I emailed my request with a link to some of my work. A few days after that, I received an email indicating that I was on the schedule for November! Super excited and super nervous at the prospect.
A few people have asked how I chose the images, etc. and I wanted to share that it was a process for me. I knew I wanted it to be b&w street photography and so I began by going through all of those images. I narrowed it down and shared with a small group of friends. I considered those perspectives….narrowed it down again. I set it aside for a few days and then came back to it. I’d try to visualize it while sitting in the coffee shop. I narrowed it down again and then ordered the prints. I don’t order prints very often and, when I do, I always kick myself for not doing it more frequently. There really is something about holding them in your hands…truly. I bought frames and mats at a local art store and assembled everything. I signed the prints front & back. And in the middle of doing all of this, there was a lot of panicking and praying and thoughts of canceling all of it and emailing friends and conversations about why this is important to me and excitement and happiness and vulnerability and wine/bourbon/beer/coffee/cupcakes and swearing and crying and joy and….you get the idea.
My friend and I worked for a couple of hours hanging everything. She was an amazing source of support and I can’t thank her enough for holding my hand through it. I would highly recommend having someone help you hang your work. Shared experiences are good and I love knowing that when I look back on this day, I’ll think of her. As it worked out, I wound up not displaying two of the images. Once I saw everything up on the walls, I felt that two of the photographs didn’t work as I’d imagined. So, I wound up using eight images and feeling AMAZING when I stepped back to take it all in….
Displayed in the afternoon light, my muse. I photographed this woman on the Brown Line in Chicago. I don’t know her name or anything about her…except that I adore her. There is a quiet beauty in her face that drew me to her….an unspoken strength. When I considered displaying my work, this was the first image that came to mind.
After the work was completed, I sat with my coffee and watched people come and go…while my photographs hung on the walls. Sublime. I listened to a father and his kids talk about what they liked about a few of the photos. I used my camera to document the moment. I chatted with people. After my husband and kids arrived, I overheard my son saying to a table of women, “My mom took those!!”
I’m certain there are 999 different ways to go about displaying your work at a location/gallery. Each decision is personal. Each decision feels monumental. This is how I went about facing my fears and walking into the light. This is how I managed to do the thing that terrified me the most. I hope it helps those of you who had questions. If not, message me. Thank you a million times over to those of you who encouraged and inspired me! I hold you in my heart.
Yesterday, I arrived with 10 prints framed and ready to go. I arrived with butterflies in my stomach. I arrived feeling compelled to face my fears. And I left there a stronger woman….a rebirth.
by Laura Yurs
I’m not good at bullshitting. That’s one of my truths.
Would you like to hear another one?
It’s taken me a long time (the better part of 36yrs) to embrace being a woman. I’ve fumbled with finding my voice and with accepting myself as worthy of friendship/love/respect/(fill in the blank). It’s difficult for me to connect with other women sometimes. I feel awkward and/or intimidated. It’s taken me time…so much time ….to step into the light and to allow myself to be seen. It’s taken me days, weeks, months, years to recognize the power of being a woman. To stake my claim. To acknowledge my life’s passion. To be vulnerable. To speak confidently. To stop apologizing for my opinions. To take control of my life. To find courage. I grew up in a family dominated by men with strong personalities. As a woman, there are definite pros and cons to that fact.
Five years ago, I gave birth to my daughter. Hours after her birth, my husband, holding her, nervously confessed, “I have no idea what to do with a little girl.” I sat quietly beside him thinking the same thing…and feeling enormously ashamed for feeling that way. How could I possibly be able to help her find her way as a woman when I felt so utterly lost myself? Ultimately, I accepted my daughter’s lead and embraced the idea of simply helping her become who she was intended to be. Nothing more. Nothing less. Her birth changed me. It made me consider what it means to be a woman and what I want for her as a woman and what she might want for herself someday. ….and slowly, I began the journey of looking inward and contemplating those vulnerable & complicated questions.
On that journey, I’ve been fortunate enough to gather a tribe of women. I love that phrase: “Tribe of Women”. And I believe in it’s power. Don’t misunderstand. I’ve also been blessed with a handful of wonderful, self assured men who’ve supported & encouraged me to live boldly. As a woman struggling to embrace her identity, though, the power of other women’s support has been compelling. I’ve been so generously welcomed into a community of other women searching for similar truths. And in that community, I’ve slowly discovered my voice. There’s strength in unconditional love. There’s power in self-portraits. There’s insane joy in wearing glittery shoes because you love them and they make you feel beautiful. It doesn’t mean you’re silly. You can still kick ass in glittery shoes!! Trust me. I believe playfulness is important. And so is collaborating and holding each other accountable and celebrating each other and pushing each other to reach further and witnessing each other’s struggles/accomplishments and fighting for our gender and sometimes…sometimes it’s about creating a space that allows that woman to simply be. To rest. Without judgement. I love my tribe of female souls….each and every one of you. Some of you I’ve known for years and some of you I’ve yet to meet face to face. We’re a varied group and together we’re a force.
My hope for my daughter is that realizes the power of a tribe as she grows older. I hope she realizes her inner strength and how amazing it is to be a woman. I hope she shares that with me : ) I hope I’m able to help her spread her wings and take flight. I hope the women in my life know how much I love them….
by Laura Yurs
Sometimes it’s the little things that cause the greatest irritation. Ever hopeful, I will hold onto this puzzle for years believing that I’ll actually find this missing piece. Time will pass. I’ll forget. And then one day we’ll pull it out again to work on it….only to find that one piece still missing. (slaps forehead!!) DOH!!! UGH….the frustration of missing puzzle pieces.