2009 was The Year of Doing Things That Scare Me, and I certainly did plenty of scary things. I spent the year running through an evolving and unordered list of challenges that helped me confront and conquer a lot of fear that I've held on to for much too long.

I started a daily photo project. I didn't finish it, but that's ok because I got what I needed out of the exercise.

I took bellydancing lessons, which helped me love my curves.

I also started exploring some other aspects of my personality:

different sides of myself

I became a platinum blonde:


changed my hair color

I read at Mortified:

read in front of a crowd

I traveled. San Diego in January. North Adams in May with my Mom. Then San Francisco in August, where I ran semi-topless through a vineyard in Napa:

running topless through wine country

I also skinny-dipped in Walden Pond at midnight. But pictures of this exist solely in my memory.

I saw a lot of live music, not the least of which was Amanda Palmer in Northampton. I offered a ride to two perfect strangers and drove out there for an amazing show (and now I have two new friends). Ms. Palmer's fearlessness and energy continues to inspire and move me.

Creatively, I tried new photo techniques, like TTV:

Salvation Mountain. Photo hobby

...and digital pinhole; Lensbaby; Diana F+ with Instamax:


As they say in yoga, find your edge and go deeper. I took portraits.

I gave myself "field assignments" and dammit I completed them even though I was nervous or lazy.

taking photos for fun creative photography for fun


I truly found my art again and realized how vital it is to my existence. I accepted that my work is dark and imperfect and not to everyone's taste. But it doesn't matter. I do it for me.

While I accomplished many wonderfully gratifying things, I had to face something that wasn't on the list. Something I couldn't plan for, the scariest thing of all: separating from my partner of 10 years.

going into the unknown. conquering fears overcoming the unknown. sleeping alone


I moved. I bought a new car. I spent many warm nights driving around with my windows down and music turned up really loud. Just thinking. Breathing. I dated (and yes, it was too soon but I met some really lovely people and learned a lot about myself).

rebuilding your life liberation from fear. taking the scenic route


I also found a hunger for meeting people, going places and seeing things. I gave up trying so hard to be perfect. I confronted assumptions and let go of worrying about what other people thought of me. I became determined to break out of the bubble I've kept myself in all my life and I opened up my mind, my heart to new experiences. I took some chances — gestures that would seem small and insignificant to some but were huge steps forward for me. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn't. But I came out stronger and wiser.

The list of challenges will continue to evolve and grow. So, in January, I declared 2010 to be The Year of Saying Yes. Because all my life I've said 'no' too many times for the wrong reasons.

I have said yes to more life and more love. More art and more music. More laughter and more heartache. More edges and more depth.