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Archive for January, 2009

New website!

I finally bit the bullet and built a real website. Yes, this involved paying real money and not just hosting on “whatthehoodle” dot com or whatever’s free. It’s pretty great. I’ve spent most of the past two days working on it, and while I’m still futzing to improve functionality as much as possible, I have gone “live” with it. I’m no web-genius, so this is being created using iWeb which is both awesome and somewhat limiting, in that since it’s made for idiots, there’s no real way to “over-ride” a lot of the features. I’m doing my best to maximize its potential because I enjoy the simplicity, but I do imagine that it may take a little while to perfect it.

I haven’t yet been able to figure out how to integrate this wordpress account (namely, its archives) into the new site, so all new updates will be made over there and the archives will remain here, hanging out. The new site does have RSS capabilities, which I think should even work! I think. There’s a button.

Any feedback you’d care to offer about function, readability, etc. would be welcome. I hope you like it and come back to visit it, y’know, more than just once!

sonjaengdahl.com

(Yeah, it’s my name. Professional isn’t always original.)

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Buddha-full Commodities.

As I prepare to make my own collection of Buddha photos for my Etsy shop, I thought I’d browse and see some of the handmade Buddha items already for sale. As I’ve said before, whatever qualms I may have with the commodification of Buddhism as a “trend,” I’m not above beautiful objects.

buddhaearringsbuddhaonesiebuddhabraceletbuddhaintree

buddhasoapbuddhacollageil_75x7550789802namaste

buddhabuttonsbuddhaprintbuddhabuddhacufflink

Silver/Swarovski Crystal Earrings by celestial autumn | Buddha onesie by WrenWillow | Happy Buddha & Turquoise Bracelet by DornickDesigns |Buddha in Tree Photographic Print by Ann Wilkinson | Buddha Glycerin Soap by dreamy1 | Mini Buddha Collage by collagecreations | Buddha Blossom Tea by good4you | Namaste Print by lindawoods | Buddha Buttons by glittergirlgalleries | Buddha Screen Print by kazmattsas | Tian Tan Buddha No. 6 by RandomNotions |Buddha Cuff Links by Bellamodaartist

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I found this via MetaFilter, it’s a great monologue about death. Part of what has always attracted me to Buddhist philosophy is the sort of existential belief that death is what makes life meaningful; that in order to live well, we need to meditate on dying well. Our lives are meaningful because they are transitory – every moment is precious and living in the moment is the only way to “escape” the future. By which I mean, that when we truly live in the moment and cherish every breath that we take, death is no longer a force to be feared. When I realize that I had no knowledge of the world before I was born, and when I die, I will return to the same unconsciousness, my life itself feels eternal because it’s the only life I will ever know – it lasts “forever” because when it’s gone, I won’t know that it was gone or that it ever existed. Every moment that I know is right now and since I won’t be aware that it’s over, it never truly “ends.” One of my favorite quotes is by Ray Charles: “Live each day as if it was your last because someday, you’re going to be right.”

I’m probably not making a whit of sense to anyone but myself, but this video is pretty fantastic anyway. Best part is that it’s narrated by performance artist Vito Acconci.

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Etsy.

I’ve had some requests for prints of my photos. (No, really. I have! I always feel like I have to defend this lest people feel I’m getting uppity or self-important. Honestly, I’m just as shocked as you are.) So, I’m finally getting my act together and putting some up on my Etsy shop. In case you didn’t know, I do indeed have an Etsy shop of my collage works.

And yes, in case you didn’t know, I’m primarily a collage artist. Photography is a wholehearted passion of mine, but my artistic training is in collage/multi-media work. I’ve had a few shows in actual real galleries and whatnot. Again, not to get uppity, just sayin’. I am indeed the real deal in this department, much as I am often loathe to admit it. I’m self-effacing to a fault where art is concerned, perhaps due to unrealistic expectations as to what an “artist” is. Whatever. I live, breathe, and would even eat art. I guess that’s close enough.

So, anyhow. Etsy. It costs me a small fee to list photos, so I’m choosing a sort of “best-of” selection. I will try to post between one and five new images each week, probably on Thursdays. In addition to whatever is listed, all photos shown on this blog (which are usually in my Shoot the Buddha set on Flickr as well) are available in print form. Really, I’m willing to negotiate on any photo I’ve taken, as long as I have a hi-res format available. The only caveat is that I won’t sell a portrait without the express permission of its subject. So, you can request one, but I give no guarantee how long it would take me to obtain permission or even that said permission would even happen – though I can’t imagine too many of my subjects really objecting too much, seeing as they’re all aware that the photos are online. (I never take photos of anyone who indicates that they don’t want pictures taken, and I never post photos online of anyone who specifically tells me that they don’t want their photos published – it’s part of why I do very, very little street photography, mostly limited to documenting street art in progress. It’s not a legal issue for me, just a respect issue that I feel strongly about – not for other photographers, mind, just me.)

So, this is a pretty rambly post to announce that I’ve updated my Etsy shop. I’m also going to add another section today or tomorrow of Buddha photos, since I have  ton of them and that’s the sort of “theme” of this blog, and yeah, there will be another (probably also rambly) post about that when it happens.

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Photo by Flickr user Argos (Old Dog Photography)

Photo by Flickr user Argos (Old Dog Photography)

Aspiration for Culture and Knowledge

By His Holiness the Seveteenth Gyalwang Karmapa

The most excellent virtue is the brilliant and calm flow of culture:

Those with fine minds play in a clear lotus lake:

Through this excellent path, a song line sweet like the pollen’s honey,

May they sip the fragrant dew of glorious knowledge.

Over the expanse of the treasured earth in this whole world,

May benefit for beings appear like infinite moons’ reflections

Whose refreshing presence brings lasting welfare and happiness

To open a lovely array of night-blooming lilies, signs of peace and joy.

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The Cost of Enlightenment.

I guess this is sort of a corollary to yesterday’s post about commodification; talking about the “trend” of “enlightenment” (which is nearly as obnoxious as the trend of “using excessive quote marks,” I apologize). I had tea with a good friend of mine today – we’ve been yoga buddies for a while; first back in Providence at Eyes of the World, which is a very “let the white light enter your navel” kind of place and then here in Boston at Exhale.

I’ve fallen off the wagon with my yoga practice since moving to Boston. And I’ll admit that the main reason for it is my own hang-ups regarding taking classes. Of course, this has no bearing on the fact that I’m not doing any kind of practice at home – other than it’s harder to get into a routine without any sort of accountability and taking classes gets the ball rolling to continue working at home. Anyhow. My hang-ups around yoga in my neighborhood are a bit ridiculous.

Eyes of the World is a yoga studio in a sort of basement type space in an office building. There’s one eensy changing room with hand drawn posterboard signs about your karma and whatnot. It’s just one large-ish room that’s superheated. That’s it. And yet, somehow homey. The vibe is very much about moving your prana around as well as stretching your legs to places where you never imagined a leg could go. I really dig the greater vibrations of the universe, man.

There are many fewer vibrations at Exhale, and part of this is that it caters to a totally different crowd. Nowhere to be seen are the die-hard hippies who haven’t eaten red meat or shaved their body hair since the Reagan administration. No one is going to tell you that their chi feels blocked today, and they really need to work that out with some inverted poses. No, this is the designer yoga mat crowd who shut off their Blackberries two minutes before class begins and whisper about their children’s private school tuitions – sometimes leaving class early to get to a meeting. (PS: HOW CAN YOU DO THIS? Shavasana is just as important as the standing pose flow, if not more so. You have to commit to the class. This is not a drop-in experience.)

And what it ultimately comes down to is this: I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Boston, making it one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the US.  It is possible to walk past Cartier on the way from the T to my house (though I usually take a different route which is all of thirty seconds faster).  I see dog walkers and nannies, and very few actual residents. It is not uncommon for me to see hordes of women wearing $20,000 fur coats waiting for someone to pull the Benz around. It boggles my mind. Before living here, I lived in front of a crack den in Providence. Literally. My partner works in finance, and this location is awesome for him as he can walk to work (in the John Hancock Tower, of course). Our apartment is homey and not at all fancy or pretentious, but that is certainly the exception in this neighborhood.

I grew up in a lower middle class family going to a UU Church where I went to Sunday School in a shed. Seriously. I have a really, really hard time putting myself into a spiritual situation with people who earn millions of dollars. I can empathize with the truly poor and remind myself that the screaming Hispanic mothers on the bus to the grocery store back in my working-class neighborhood have Buddha-nature and are on the same cosmic journey and we’re all the same, we’re all floating in the same void.

I can’t seem to do this with the wealthy. I feel an involuntary knee-jerk kind of contempt for people who make regular appointments for spa treatments. I shudder when I see real fur in any situation. Anytime I see a luxury car, my first thought is to how much gas it wastes. And yet, these people are just people. While their problems are “First World Problems,” they’re working through their own karma just as much as everybody else. And I truly, truly have issues with this. That having money somehow inauthenticates the human experience. What kind of effed up reasoning is that?

I suppose it all comes down to the idea of the ascetic as holy and therefore, the inverse must be unholy. And certainly, greed is a corrupting force. But we’ve all got our issues. Just because I’m not greedy doesn’t mean I’m not judgmental and shallow (obviously). My lack of a savings account does not make me any spiritually better than someone with off-shore investments. I may choose to live by the seat of my pants, but the choice to seek a financially secure life is just as valid.

So says I living in an apartment that no way could I afford on my own taking pictures with a camera that also, no way could I have bought it for myself, blogging on a computer that is probably worth more than I am. Oh, I slay me.

Anyhow. I hope to get back into yoga practice this year. I’m looking for a studio in Boston with fewer Blackberry addicts and more white light entering my navel – or at least, some sort of balance.

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