On Photography and Energy Work

I am currently working diligently to practice moderating the flow of energy in and out of my being. My container.

Of course, we all regulate energy on a consistent basis in the physical form. We eat, digest and eliminate daily. If we listen to the messages our bodies are sending to us, we notice when we are hungry or full, or when our body needs to rest or move. If we pay attention to the more subtle signals, we notice that certain foods go through us cleanly while others get stuck in varieties of ways that are more or less optimal for our body’s makeup. For me, gluten and sugar are “sticky” foods that gum up my system, slow me down, or make me feel dependent or addicted. I can have a little bit of them, but I need to be mindful about moderation them in order to feel my best.

Our metaphysical energy also needs to be noticed and regulated in a similar way, though our culture is far less educated on the matter. Modern Western culture in particular, struggles with high levels of energy consumption, and low levels of energy release, or letting go. Our energetic imbalances have manifested in the physical world, and are evident in our culture’s struggles with obesity, obsession with the appearance of youth, attempts to prolong life, a lack of tools to effectively handle death, grief and loss, a culture of shame surrounding bodily release functions, and an unchecked addiction to the purchasing and consumption of products in general.

I have become conscious of my own struggles with energetic balances throughout my life. For years I struggled with an eating disorder – bulimia. I constantly over-consumed and then rejected my consumption as I did not know how to listen to and honor my body’s signals, or to balance my energy intake in a healthy way.

My role as a photographer has also helped me increase my awareness of energy consumption, transmutation and release. The act of witnessing life, making images, and then editing, curating and publicly releasing them into the world has made me acutely aware of my role in this process. What moments am I choosing to photograph? Which images am I choosing to share, and how? What messages or tones or feelings am I highlighting? What am I focusing on in my life and how do I feel about that?  

My photographic process has helped bring consciousness to the places in me where things get sticky when I become triggered by a person or an idea or an encounter. I have learned that it is up to me to be able to do an internal check and recognize where the energy is getting stuck in my body – Is my chest tight? Am I carrying tension in my shoulders, or clenching my jaw? Once I become aware of the stagnant energy, it is up to me to disentangle myself from it and compassionately release it from my system. This is an ongoing practice and it isn’t always easy.

I struggled a great deal at points on my journey. Humans of Portland (a photography project in which I met, photographed and interviewed strangers on the streets of Portland), represented 2 years of my life where, through my camera, I opened my being up to the energies of hundreds of people that I encountered. I had no idea what I was getting myself into as sometimes people shared stories about the more intense and difficult aspects of their lives.  Over time, and through sometimes painful learning processes, I learned more about creating energetic and physical boundaries with people to make conscious choices about what I let into my system.

After Humans of Portland, I began working more intimately and for longer periods of time with individual people. I became close with some of my creative collaborators, and was given more opportunities to set emotional, physical, spiritual and energetic boundaries. Recognizing this was an unanticipated and needed skill set in my photographic process, I enrolled in a two-year program, completing three levels of schooling in energy medicine practices. I also created my own tools to compassionately release toxic and sticky energies that make their way into my emotional being. I am still exploring and developing creative ways to help with this process.

After years of experience and education, I now feel confident creating safe spaces for others to enter in which they can practice the compassionate release of energies that are no longer serving them. I enjoy assisting in the creation of personal ritual, which can be both a fun creative process, and an emotional experience. Both are valuable and necessary and I enjoy sharing tools and processes for facilitating both. It is my intent that this work can help individuals to bring their own energy intake and release into a state of balance and flow and that this will lead to restored feelings of vitality health, and wellness to people’s lives.

an ongoing story

For three years now, Varied Thrushes have been visiting me in January, marking significant points along the way in the journey of my life and the evolution of my spirit. This is the story as it has unfolded thus far. 


December 31, 2015

“I woke on this year’s very last morning, early and with purpose.
I sat by the fire before dawn and scrawled a list.
Reflections on achievements, lessons, releases. It’s good to see how I’ve grown.

I put my pen down for a moment and wandered toward the back door to peer at the morning unfolding. There, in the center of my view, lay a tangerine-breasted bird, placed neatly on the ground, claws unclutched toward the open sky. His plump body prepared for a busy spring it would never find.

My lungs brought in air and I got to work.”

After making images of this beauty, I placed the bird into a paper box along with lavender, sage, and other natural objects and wrapped it as beautifully as I could.


On the first day of 2016, I went to an intentional New Year’s Day ceremony put on by members of my shamanic community. I carefully placed the decorated box on the gratitude fire among the flowers, fruits, and other objects and gave thanks for the lessons this Varied Thrush had offered me. I watched as its energy returned to the world in flames.


In reflection, 2015 marks the year I learned to transform grief into gift.


The New Year’s Day ceremony marked the first of many for me in 2016. I attended many ceremonies and learned a great deal about healing, living with intention, and taking personal responsibility for my own life. I shifted much of the energy I had previously invested in my art into healing myself and my relationships. Many things fell apart and many things came together during the course of the year. I grew stronger, reclaiming power and vitality from the many places in my life where I had unnecessarily given it away.


In reflection, 2016 marked the year I learned to release victimization and embrace empowerment.


January 1, 2017

“I have seen a great variety of birds in my yard and neighborhood in the seven years my family has lived in outer Northeast Portland. The stand of fir trees towering over my family’s house has been home to hawks, crows and jays, and my garden has welcomed hummingbirds, eagles, herons, finches, gulls, and many other winged-ones I can’t name. But I have never seen another Varied Thrush before or since the day this one gave itself to me on the last day of 2015. Until today.

My morning was quite full, in preparation for what would be my second New Year’s Day ceremony. I glanced out the window and caught a glimpse of a tangerine color. This time there were three Varied Thrushes. The one female and two male orange-breasted birds hopped about my garden, just inches from where these photographs were made exactly one year before.

I cannot say yet what I will learn in 2017.  But I can set into motion what I intend to experience.

My intentions are simple: to give love, to receive love, and to be love.


In reflection  on 2017, I fulfilled my intentions to give love, to receive love, and to be love. I learned to give and receive beautiful, powerful, intensely passionate, magical, fiery, spiritual love. I learned to give and receive challenging, shadow facing, forgiving, pride swallowing, ego dying, compassionate, listening love. Most importantly, I learned self-love. I learned truth-speaking, boundary-setting, self-honoring love for ME.

It was the hardest year of my life.

I’m still learning. Some day, I will tell you all about it.


January 29, 2018

“The Varied Thrush came to me again today, alone and alive, and carrying about what it needs to do to survive and thrive and create. It arrived late in the month this time, but appropriately so, as it has been waiting for me to be ready. This is the Varied Thrush’s 3rd annual appearance in my life as a clear and powerful marker to me on my path.

My intentions for 2018 are: to value myself and to honor my value with actions that consistently affirm the truth of my value to the universe.

I do wonder how long this bird will visit me. I’m grateful for the gifts and teachings and reminders it has brought to me. Life, here I come!

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