We had the good fortune of connecting with Cassie Green and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cassie, if you are a parent, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve done as a parent in terms of the impact on your children?
This is a topic that is so close to my heart. It feels like my life’s work, which I’m not sure I would have ever delved so deeply into had I never become a parent. The most important thing I have done as a parent for my children has been to study and practice emotional intelligence and self compassion. I have thought a lot about my past as a child and what effected me, what parts of my life have brought suffering into my adult life relationships, what parts have brought me ease? I have been very sensitive and perceptive from a young age. I pick up on subtle nuances of human interactions, the things that go unspoken. Children are like this too. They are observant, they ask questions that adults inhibit themselves from asking. They want to know why the world makes the rules it does, and they don’t adhere to them all yet. They are curious little sponges. We have to take to heart the weight of being a parent. I think it’s one of the most important jobs in the entire world. We are creating people. We are part of the future and evolution. I personally would love to see the human race evolve out of primal mind thinking into more compassionate, and accepting thinking. That is something that has to be modeled. So, as a parent, I believe it’s my responsibility to be the model. I have to be a model of love, compassion, forgiveness, apology, strength, weakness, self acceptance, maturity, open mindedness, persistence, effort, grief, anger, playfulness, self care, and on and on. I had to apply practice to stop living only in concern for myself and start living in the service of being here for another being, my child. Children experience the world through their internal experience of everything. They don’t know the first agreement from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements: “Don’t take anything personally”. They take EVERYTHING personally. Instinctively they feel happy or afraid, instinctively they think it must be their fault if we don’t tell them differently. It didn’t dawn on me until I had this little innocent face staring back at me when I was having a reaction to life saying, with nothing but a look, what does this reaction mean? I’ve found in all my studies on child development and in my experience in being a parent, that saying out-loud what is happening and acknowledging how they might be feeling is the difference between creating trauma and creating emotional intelligence. For example, I’ve said to my kids, (more times than I would like to admit;) “Mommy is (angry, sad, frustrated, etc.) and it must be scary to see me like this. I’m so sorry that I scared you. I’m not mad at you, even though it might have seemed like it. I need some time to take some deep breaths and calm down. I will try harder to notice my anger rising before it surprises everyone. And it’s not ok for me to take it out on you. Can you forgive me? What can we do now that would feel relaxing and help us feel better? Let’s do that.” I know I’m doing my job because I hear my daughters voice parrot back to me the things I have taught her over the years . When she is with me in a moment I have realized I’ve let someone down, I hear. “We all mess up, mom, good friends will understand and forgive, you meant no harm, beating yourself up won’t make it go away, it just makes it feel bigger. Forgive yourself. It will all be ok soon.” These are the words taught to me by an important mentor in my life who learned them from an important mentor in her life and so goes the chain of health and wellness. That’s what we want to pass on, and we want to break the chains of blame, hate, jealously, competition, or anything else that causes suffering. Not to say that we won’t still experience suffering not matter how much we practice, in the end we are human, but it’s so much easier to get up after a fall if you have planted the seeds of soft protection for where you will land. Self compassion. Positivity. Authenticity. Some of my mentors that are also available to you: Tara Brach, Silvia Boorstien, Howard Cohn, Kristen Neff, Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Mark Nepo, Pema Chodren, Alanon Family Groups, Spirit Rock Meditation Center “The advance of photo portraiture has given humanity an elaborate and reliable mirror that gives the individual a powerful tool of self- analysis. It also gives the individual a dangerous, highly refined mechanism for narcissism. If Freud and Jung gave us a set of tools to explore the self from the inside out, photography gave us the means to explore the self from the outside in.”
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think one thing that sets me apart from other family photographers is my extensive education in early childhood development and counseling psychology. I think I have a natural way of creating a comfortable, causal environment for everyone involved. I’m good at keeping things positive and helpful when it comes to getting kids involved in a natural genuine way. This all comes from a love for what children offer us and remind us, and years of studying how to work with them in a classroom and therapeutic environment. I think the most significant thing I’ve learned along the way has been to trust myself. It took me a long time to trust that I had a gift in this form of art. It came so easily to me that I never had to work hard to produce it. This caused me to charge pennies for my sessions initially, and to not value my work as I compared it to others. As hard as comparison can be on us as artists, it DID play a useful part in my growth. It pushed me. It made me want more for myself, for my art. It’s one of the reasons I began shooting film again. It was more of a challenge. I thought this is “real” photography, even though I don’t believe that now. It’s all real. It’s all art. I challenged myself to shoot film in order to feel validated as a photographer, no one asked me to do that. Challenges are great because they keep our minds busy and focused. We can feel a sense of mastery as well, but there is a balance between appreciating what you create and pushing yourself to a point of believing you’re never good enough. I pushed myself to that point up until about a year ago. I thought my work should look like so and so’s work, but I could never make it so, and that made me feel even worse. The funny thing was that the work I thought my work should look like was trending, it was being created by so many people it became unattached to any one name. That’s never been who I am, but I thought that was the way I could make myself known. Amazing how the mind can deceive us sometimes! Once I began to let go of allowing instagram to determine if I am a good photographer or not, things got easier for me. First, I unfollowed anyone who I compared myself to. I made sure I only saw things that inspired or interested me in my feed. It could be based on a picture or what was written as a caption. I spent hours looking through MY feed and admiring MY images, curating them to compliment each other. And I don’t go on instagram unless I intend to post something or I have a message. If I go on to fill time, I find it fills my mind with thoughts of worthiness. No likes means not good? Well, that’s not actually true! So try not to fall into that thinking trap. Some of my most admired images from clients or people who look at my work have the least likes on instagram and Facebook. When I truly embraced my vision, my photography got easier and better. I used to be scared to even suggest something to clients in fear of them thinking I was weird or making them feel uncomfortable. Now, I am most proud of the work I created on purpose. A moment I saw and asked to recreate. After so much practice too, it doesn’t feel so hard to put my ideas out there. I care less what people think. You have to be dynamic to relate to all the different kinds of people you meet. Practice makes things easier, so keep shooting and keep listening to your artists voice. It is your art talking. It is your brand. It is your story.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was in town I would take her hiking all over Sonoma County. We would eat breakfast at The Tea room Cafe, Lunch to go from Ray’s Deli, picnic in the park, eat dinner at Wild Goat Bistro and get ice cream at Lala’s in Petaluma. We would go to a restorative yoga class ideally in the park. We would walk down B and D street admiring the old historical homes. And we’d have to fit in a trip out to the beach. Heart’s Desire is my favorite up here and if we’re out there we might as well stop and get raw oysters and a yummy drink at Salt Water in Inverness. Long drives though the country scape, good music and talks, feeling the sun on my back and eating good food is my idea of the perfect day.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
They are mentioned at the end of my writing piece.
Image Credit of my Headshot is Tanja Lippert.